Saturday, July 14, 2012

Jackson return, defense key Rider win

Regina, SK. -- A team record return, solid defense and the promise of a new stadium all added up to an exciting day of football in Regina, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders emerged as the CFL's only remaining unbeaten team after a thrilling 23-20 win over the BC Lions.

After the excitement of the pre-game announcement of a new stadium in Regina by the 2017 season subsided, the Lions would get on the board first as former Rider Paul McCallum booted a 38 yard field goal with 3:56 gone for a 3-0 lead. Saskatchewan would hold onto the ball for 7:11 on their open possession, ending up with a 32 yard Chris Milo field goal with 3:53 left in the first, tying the game 3-3. BC would respond as Travis Lulay found Kierrie Johnson open down the left side and hit him in stride for a 69 yard touchdown pass. McCallum converted 47 seconds after Milo had tied it and the Leos were up 10-3 after one.

In the second, Milo booted a 37 yard field goal 3:10 in, bringing the Riders to with 4, at 10-6. After a Craig Butler interception put Saskatchewan in business at the BC 32, Darian Durant would throw to Weston Dressler in the end zone for what appeared to be a major score. That was overturned on challenge, but a pass interference penalty in the end zone put the ball at the 1 and two plays later, Kory Sheets dove over right tackle for the touchdown. Milo converted with 7:59 left in the half, putting Saskatchewan up 13-10. McCallum would respond for the Lions, kicking a 30 yard field goal on the final play of the half, tying the game 13-13 at two quarter time.

In the latter stages of the third quarter, Tristan Jackson returned a missed field goal to the 55, setting the Riders up for a 33 yard Milo field goal with 4:03 to play, putting Saskatchewan back on top, 16-13.

Early in the fourth, BC would line up for a McCallum kick from 40 yards out. The kick sailed wide left and into the waiting arms of Jackson, just in front of the end line. He started out slowly, then saw a seam and hit it hard. A couple of moves and blocks later, he would fly to the end zone with a team record 129 yard missed field goal return for touchdown. Milo converted 1:08 into the fourth and Saskatchewan went up by 10, at 23-13. BC would score with 3:30 left in regulation on an 8 yard pass from Lulay to Marco Iannuzzi. McCallum converted and the Rider lead was 3, at 23-20. The Lions would have one last gasp chance, but that was snuffed out by an Eddie Russ interception at the 48 yard line with :14 seconds left. Saskatchewan ran out the clock from there, securing their third win of the season in as many starts, 23-20.

For the Riders, Darian Durant was 18-of-28 passing for 172 yards, Jordan Sisco caught 2 passes for 53 yards, Chris Getzlaf caught 5 balls for 43 yards, Kory Sheets rushed 15 times for 76 yards and a touchdown, Tristan Jackson had the team's first kick return for a major in five years, Chris Milo kicked 3 field goals and 2 converts, Woodny Turenne made 9 tackles and Craig Butler and Eddie Russ each had an interception. The team has no turnovers in three games and has scored in 11 of 12 quarters. For BC, Travis Lulay was 23-of-40 passing for 345 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, Marco Iannuzzi had 4 receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown, Kierrie Johnson caught one pass for a 69 yard touchdown, Paul McCallum kicked 2 field goals and 2 converts and Adam Bighill made 6 tackles.

In the team stats, BC gained 460 total yards, 345 passing and 115 rushing. They didn't allow a sack, turned the ball over twice, picked up 13 first downs and were penalized 8 times for 86 yards. Saskatchewan gained 172 yards passing and 94 rushing for 256 total yards, allowed one sack, had no turnovers, picked up 15 first downs and were penalized just twice, for 10 yards.

With the win, the Riders improve to 3-0, making them thre CFL's last unbeaten team, while the Lions slipped to 2-1. Saskatchewan next plays at Calgary this coming Thursday, July 19th, with kickoff set for 9:00pm EDT. Catch all the action with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri on 620 CKRM and the Rider Radio Network. The game can be seen in Canada on TSN and in the U.S. online via The next game for the Lions is Friday, July 20th, 10:00pm EDT, against the Edmonton Eskimos.

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