Friday, November 4, 2011

Riders lose a close one in Miller's final game

Try as they might, the Saskatchewan Roughriders couldn't pull the upset in Ken Miller's last game as coach, dropping a 23-20 decision to the Edmonton Eskimos at Commomwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.

After a scoreless first quarter in which neither team could gain much traction, both struck early in the second. Ryan Dinwiddie found Chris Getlaf flying over the middle for 21 yards and a touchdown, the first passing touchdown for Saskatchewan in 410:10. Chris Milo converted with 1:03 gone, putting the Riders up 7-0. Edmonton would respond quickly. Ricky Ray found Adarius Bowman in stride down the left side for a 71 yard catch-and-run major. Derek Schiavone converted with 2:39 gone and the game was tied, 7-7. The Eskimos took the lead on their next possession. On a drive keyed by a 29 yard romp by Jerome Messam that made him just the seventh Canadian to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season since 1955, Ray found Bowman again, who shed tacklers down the right side, diving to the pylon for a 24 yard major. Schiavone converted again, this time with 7:57 to play, giving Edmonton the 14-7, which they carried into half-time.

Saskatchewan was very impressive on their opening drive of the second half, a possession which saw Chris Getzlaf go over 1,000 yards receiving for the year. Chris Milo capped it with a 27 yard field goal, drawing the Riders within 4, at 14-10, with 11:35 to play in the third. The advantaged grew to 7 about 9 minutes later when Schivone was good on a 36 yard field goal for the Eskimos, giving them a 17-10 lead.

Schiavone connected again, this time from 19 yards out with 9:26 to play in regulation, stretching Edmonton's lead to 20-10. Milo would respond on Saskatchewan's next possession, squeaking one through from 46 yards away, trimming the deficit to 20-13, with 6:59 still to play. The Riders would take their next possession 77 yards in 4 plays, capped by a 20 yard bullet from Dinwiddie to Getzlaf. Milo converted, tying the game 20-20 with 2:51 left in regulation. The Eskimos took the ensuing possession 79 yards in 7 plays, getting a Schiavone field goal, this one from 27 yards, grabbing the lead back for Edmonton with :46 to go. Instead of saving time by taking the ball at the 35, Saskatchewan elected to return a kick instead. Tristan Jackson, looking for a seam, was stripped at the 16, losing the ball at that spot. The Eskimos ran out the clock, holding on to the game and taking sole possession of first in the West with the 23-20 win.

For Edmonton, Ricky Ray was 22-of-32 passing for 305 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, while being sacked once. Kerry Joseph played short yardage situations and threw one incomplete pass. Adarius Bowman caught 10 passes for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns, Jerome Messam ran 13 times for 76 yards and Derek Schiavone kicked 3 field goals and 2 converts. For the Roughriders, Ryan Dinwiddie was 12-of-24 passing for 193 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and 3 sacks. Chris Getzlaf caught 7 balls for 131 yards and 2 majors, Wes Cates ran 14 times for 89 yards and Chris Milo kicked 2 field goals and 2 converts.

Saskatchewan had 17 first downs, 116 yards rushing, 203 passing and 295 net yards.  The Eskimos had 15 first downs, 76 yards rushing, 305 passing and 372 net yards. The Riders were penalized 3 times for 25 yards and turned the ball over twice. Edmonton was penalized 7 times for 55 yards, won the time of possession battle 31:35 to 28:25 and turned the ball over just once.

With the win, the Eskimos improve to 11-7, moving 2 points ahead of both BC and Calgary, depending on the outcome of those teams' games this weekend. The Riders, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001, finished the season at 5-13.

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