Regina Thunder celebrates ‘storybook’ victory over Saskatoon Hilltops

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A late TD pass from backup quarterback Zenon Orobko to Isaiah Woodley was the difference Saturday as the Thunder edged the Hilltops 30-27.

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Rob Vanstone Rylan Sokul of the Regina Thunder makes a spectacular, 42-yard catch despite tight coverage from Jared Giddings of the Saskatoon Hilltops in Prairie Football Conference action Saturday at Mosaic Stadium. Sokul's big play set up the game-winning touchdown. Wanda Harron Photography. Rylan Sokul of the Regina Thunder makes a spectacular, 42-yard catch despite tight coverage from Jared Giddings of the Saskatoon Hilltops in Prairie Football Conference action Saturday at Mosaic Stadium. Sokul’s big play set up the game-winning touchdown. Wanda Harron Photography. Photo by Wanda Harron Photography

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Despite an injury to starting quarterback Carter Shewchuk, the Regina Thunder stormed back for a down-to-the-wire victory that greatly enhanced its chances of dethroning the Saskatoon Hilltops and finishing first in the PFC.

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A 36-yard touchdown pass from No. 2 signal-caller Zenon Orobko to Isaiah Woodley with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as the Thunder registered a dramatic, three-point victory over the arch-rival Hilltops for the second successive Saturday.

One week earlier, Eric Maximuik‘s 51-yard field goal on the final play had given Regina a 16-13 road victory and snapped Saskatoon’s winning streak at 33 games. Then Orobko and Woodley performed their heroics as Regina won 30-27 at Mosaic Stadium and improved its record to 4-4. Saskatoon, winner of the past six PFC and CJFL titles, dropped to 2-2.

“It’s a storybook — it really is,” said Orobko, whose father Pat is an ex-Hilltop. “You can’t draw up anything better than that.”

Orobko took over behind centre after Shewchuk suffered a right shoulder injury, which is not thought to be serious, late in the third quarter. Regina led 23-20 at the time.

Saskatoon soon went ahead 27-23 when Damon Dutton found Ethan Godson for a 38-yard touchdown pass.

Without Shewchuk, the Thunder’s offence sputtered until its final possession — a seven-play, 89-yard scoring march.

Regina was in a first-and-25 predicament when Rylan Sokul made a spectacular catch along the right sideline for a 42-yard advance. Woodley scored three plays later.

“I don’t think I scored a touchdown,” Woodley said. “I think we, as a team, scored a touchdown.”

Hutton then moved the Hilltops 52 yards in eight plays before being intercepted in the end zone by Justin Mckerracher with seven seconds remaining, punctuating a classic contest.

“These two teams love playing against each other,” Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant said, “and they bring out the best in each other.”

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