Thursday, October 30, 2008

Riders top Argos in thriller to wrap up regular season finale

The Saskatchewan Roughriders pulled off another one of their amazing 4th quarter comebacks Thursday night, scoring 28 points in the final frame, for an exciting 45-38 win over the Toronto Argonauts in front of 28,654 fans at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Toronto opened the scoring in the first quarter, as Kerry Joseph threw a 42 yard touchdown passs to Arland Bruce III. Mike Vanderjagt's convert with 1:11 gone put the Argos up 7-0. Saskatchewan tied the game as Michael Bishop scored on an 11 yard run and Loca Congi converted 3:04 later. Toronto went back on top with a 20 yard scoring strike from Joseph to Andre Talbot and a Vanderjagt convert with 8:48 remaining, then a Joseph 9 yard touchdown pass to P. K. Sam and another Vanderjagt convert with 3:20 remaining, putting the Argonauts up 21-7.

Congi kicked a 9 yard field goal for the Riders 1:36 into the second quarter to cut the gap to 21-10, but Toronto responded with a 14 yard field goal from Vanderjagt with 8:04 remaining in the half, restoring the 14 point lead at 24-10. Bishop's second rushing touchdown of the game, this one from 20 yards out, plus the Congi convert with 2:29 remaining for Saskatchewan, reduced the Argos lead to 24-17. Toronto gave the ball away, but took it right back on an interception in their own endzone late in the half, and the score stayed 24-17 into halftime.

The Argos regained the two-score lead 4:57 into the third. Joseph threw his fourth scoring pass of the night, finding Talbot again, this time from 12 yards away. Vanderjagt's convert put Toronto on top 31-17 after three quarters.

The Argos punted from their own goal line on the final play of the third, setting the Riders up with good field position to open the final quarter. Saskatchewan took advantage, driving deep into Toronto territory, scoring on a 20 yard dash by Stu Foord. Congi's convert with 13:08 remaining in regulation time, drew the green-and-white to within 7, at 31-24. The Riders' Anton McKenzie knocked the ball loose on the ensuing kickoff with James Patrick recovering, giving Saskatchewan first and 10 at the Argos' 19. Neil Hughes scored two plays later on a six yard run. That score, combined with the Congi convert, tied the game 31-31 with 11:57 remaining. To their credit, Toronto drove from their own 35 yard line for the go ahead score on their next possession. Joseph threaded a pass through the arms of the Riders' Omarr Morgan to Reggie McNeal from 12 yards out. Joseph's fifth touchdown pass of the night capped a 10 play, 75 yard drive. Vanderjagt's convert with 6:23 to go, putting the Argos back on top, 38-31. Congi missed a 42 yard field goal with just under three minutes remaining, but Toronto went two and out, giving Saskatchewan the ball on the Argos 53, with 1:47 left in regulation time. Bishop, under heavy pressure, connected with Rob Bagg to the 1 1/2 yard line on the first play. Foord was stopped on the next play, but Toronto was called for offside on the play. Bishop tried to sneak in from the one, but after a long delay while the pile was unstacked, the play was ruled a touchdown. Congi converted, tying the game 38-38 with 1:25 left in regulation time. Toronto took the kick out to their own 39, but went two and out, then amazingly turned the ball over on a fumbled fake punt, giving the Riders one last chance, starting at the Argos 40. Foord went 7 yards on the first play and 5 yards on the second play. Bishop threw an incomplete pass to Andy Fantuz, but Toronto interfered, giving Saskatchewan first and goal at the two yard line. Hughes scored from there, his second score of the quarter, Congi converted with 12 seconds remaining and the Riders held on from there for the 45-38 win.

For Saskatchewan, Michael Bishop was 18 of 32 passing for 292 yards with 4 interceptions. He rushed 8 times for 58 yards and three touchdowns. Neil Hughes carried the ball 4 times for 18 yards and those two fourth quarter touchdowns, while Stu Foord had 8 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. Andy Fantuz led the receiving corps with 8 catches for 98 yards. Tad Kornegay and Sean Lucas led the defense with 7 tackles apiece. For Toronto, Kerry Joseph completed 25 of 38 passes for 307 yards and 5 touchdowns. A Bruce caught 6 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown, Andre Talbot had 6 passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns, P.K. Sam had 6 catches for 42 yards and a score and Reggie McNeal had 3 catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Jamal Robertson had 12 carries for 97 yards and on defense, M O'Shea had 7 tackles.

The Riders, defending Grey Cup champions, finish the regular season with a 12-6 record.

This is the final week of the CFL's regular season. Division semi-finals take place next weekend. For Saskatchewan to host the first playoff game against B.C. in Regina, the Lions must lose at Calgary this Saturday. If B.C wins, then they'll host the Riders in the West semis in Vancouver. Wherever the game is played, it will take place on Saturday, November 8th, beginning at 3:30p.m. Central time on The Grey Cup playoff finals are held on November 15th, with the Grey Cup title game being played at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on November 23rd, at 5:00p.m. Central time.

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