The Saskatchewan Roughriders opened the 2013 CFL season on the road against the Edmonton Eskimos Saturday, riding a dominant first half to a 39-18 win, ending a six game losing streak at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium in front of 35,869.
The Riders got the ball first and got a big play when Darian Durant eluded a sack and found Chris Getzlaf for a 29 yard gain to the Edmonton 21. Kory Sheets hauled the mail home three plays later, scoring around the left end from 19 yards out, capping an 8 play, 74 yard drive. Chris Milo converted and with 4:51 gone in the opening quarter, Saskatchewan was up 7-0. On their next possession, another big pass play from Durant to Getzlaf, plus several hard runs by Sheets put the Riders in position for Durant to fire to Taj Smith in the left flat from the 12. Smith scored and Milo would convert with 48.6 seconds left. The major, coming at the end of a 9 play, 94 yard drive, gave Saskatchewan a 14-0 advantage.
The Roughriders would start their fourth possession at their own 45, but after one first down, they'd end up settling for a 56 yard Ricky Schmitt punt single and a 15-0 lead with 10:17 to play in the opening half. The Eskimos would thing crank up the offense, as Mike Reilly hit a long one over the middle to Fred Stamps to the Saskatchewan 30. Reilly would scramble for a first down but the drive broke down at the 18. Grant Shaw came on but missed a 25 yard field goal wide left with 7:41 remaining. The single put Edmonton on the board, trailing 15-1. The Eskimos tried to run out the clock, but Reilly, throwing the ball deep in his own territory, was picked off by Rey Williams, who stepped in front of the intended receiver and took the ball 19 yards for the touchdown on the half's final play. Milo converted and at the half it was all Riders, leading 22-1.
Saskatchewan opened their first possession just across centre field and after Durant rolled to his left and found Weston Dressler for a 38 yard gain. Two plays later, Durant flipped one to Getzlaf for a 3 yard touchdown. Milo kicked the point and 4:04 into the third, the Roughrider lead was up to 29-1. Saskatchewan continued the pressure on the ensuing kick, as Sam Hurl recovered a fumble at the Edmonton 30. Sheets would bust one over left tackle to the 4, then Durant would fire to the right side to Scott McHenry, who caught the ball and rolled across the goalline for the major. The Milo convert, with 9:47 to play in the third, increased the Rider lead to 36-1. Shaw would responded for the Eskimos with 7:49 remaining, kicking a 40 yard field goal that trimmed the deficit to 36-4. Edmonton would then draw within 36-6 on a conceded safety touch from Schmitt with 2:36 left in the third.
A Diamond Ferri interception return set Saskatchewan up just across midfield late in the third, reaching the Eskimo 18 as the quarter ended. The drive broke down there and Milo would come on to kick a 24 yard field goal with 13:28 remaining, increasing the Roughrider lead to 39-6. Stamps would catch a 19 yard strike from Reilly for Edmonton but the two-point convert failed and with 6:07 to go, it was 39-12 Saskatchewan. The Eskimos recovered the ensuing short kick but couldn't capitalize, with the Riders taking over at their 17 with about 4:00 to play. Shaw would kick a 37 yard field goal with 1:31 to play for Edmonton, who would then add a 27 yard Shaw field goal with 4.6 seconds to play for the final score of 39-18 in favor of Saskatchewan.
For the Roughriders, Darian Durant was 14-of-22 passing for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns. Kory Sheets ran the ball 17 times for 131 yards and Chris Getzlaf caught 3 passes for 67 yards and a major. For the Eskimos, Mike Reilly was 17-of-35 passing for 259 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Fred Stamps caught 5 balls for 106 yards and a touchdown. Saskatchewan had 353 net yards, 19 first downs and no turnovers. Edmonton had 417 total yards, 23 first downs and turned the ball over 4 times.
The Riders start the season 1-0 and will go for win number two next Friday at home against the 1-0 Calgary Stampeders. Kickoff on 620CKRM, the Rider Radio Network and TSN is set for 9:00pm EDT. The Eskimos, starting the season 0-1, play at the 0-1 Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday, July 7th, at 5:00pm EDT.