Sunday, November 16, 2014

Comeback falls short in WSF loss at Edmonton

Edmonton, AB. -- The Saskatchewan Roughriders travelled to Edmonton Sunday to take on the Eskimos in the CFL's Western Semifinal and after a rough first half, saw a valiant second half effort come up short in an 18-10 loss in the Western Semifinal, in front of 26,237 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

John White's running keyed the opening possession of the game for Edmonton, which started at the 37 yard line. The drive would bog down at the Rider 30, where Hugh O'Neill would come out and boot a 37 yard field goal, giving the Eskimos a 3-0 lead just 3:17 into the contest. After an interception by Aaron Grymes gave Edmonton the ball at the Saskatchewan 39, O'Neill would kick a 41 yard field goal for a 6-0 Eskimo lead, with 3:50 to go in the first. After another interception, Edmonton would march from their 44 to the Roughrider 35. On the final play of the opening quarter, Adarius Bowman would juggle and drop a pass in the end zone, leaving the Eskimo lead at 6-0 after one.

McNeill would try a 42 yard field goal into the wind to open the second quarter, but he shanked it left. Tristan Jackson conceded the single, upping the Edmonton lead to a 7-0, just 16 seconds into the second. A tipped ball resulted in another interception, giving Saskatchewan turnovers on three straight possessions. However, the Rider defence rose to the occasion, forcing a two-and-out, taking over at their own 15. Saskatchewan went 2-and-out, then got a short punt and a penalty, putting the Eskimos in business at the Rider 31. The short drive would net just 17 yards and O'Neill would come on for a 21 yard field goal with 8:03 to play in the half, increasing the Edmonton lead to 10-0. After their fourth two-and-out, Saskatchewan punted the ball away. Kendial Lawrence took the kick and sailed 88 yards up the middle for the game's first major. The O'Neill convert gave the Eskimos a 17-0 advantage, with 6:20 remaining in the second. Yet another interception, the fourth of the game, gave Edmonton the ball at the Roughrider 30. The defence made a big play, with Weldon Brown intercepting the ball in the end zone with 3:48 to play 'til two-quarter time. Saskatchewan would finally put together a drive late in the half, moving the ball to near mid-field for the first time. The possession yielded nothing and the Roughriders punted the ball away. They'd get one more crack at the ball, taking over after an Eskimo two-and-out at the Edmonton 54. Kerry Joseph, under heavy pressure, spun out of trouble and found a wide-open Korey Williams at the goal line for a 54 yard touchdown. Chris Milo kicked the convert, cutting the deficit to 17-7, with 44 seconds left in the second quarter.

Saskatchewan would start their second possession of the second half at the Eskimo 49. Joseph was sacked on first down, then threw an interception to Dexter McCoil, ending the threat with 8:39 to play in the third, leaving the Edmonton lead at 10, 17-7. The Eskimos, starting at the Rider 54, got an 18 yard run from John White, then got a short run, then an incompletion, bringing on O'Neill for a 39 yard field goal. The ball sailed wide right, with Weston Dressler conceding the single. That increased the Edmonton lead to 18-7, with 6:36 remaining in the third. Tino Sunseri, on in relief of Joseph, guided Saskatchewan into Eskimo territory, scrambling twice for first downs. The drive stalled at the 23 and Milo would come on to boot a 30 yard field goal with 1:23 left in quarter number three, slicing the deficit to 18-10.

Just past the midway point of the final quarter, Edmonton started pounding the ball on the ground, moving into Rider territory and running precious seconds off the clock. Mike Reilly snuck for the first down with 5 minutes to play to extend the drive. Reilly would get sacked near mid-field, forcing the Eskimos to punt, with Saskatchewan taking over at their own 24, with just over 3 minutes to play. A pass to Brett Swain gained to the 54 at the three minute warning. Rob Bagg moved the chains with a catch at the Edmonton 44. A holding penalty forced a first and 20 at the 54, with 2:14 to go. A pass down the middle was incomplete, with a challenge for pass interference being denied. Sunseri was then sacked at his own 50, forcing an unsuccessful onside punt with 1:44 to play, with the Eskimos taking over at their own 37. Two first downs sealed the fate of the Riders, with Edmonton running out the clock, holding on for the 8 point win, 18-10.

For the victorious Eskimos, Matt Nichols was 12-of-23 passing for 59 yards and 1 interception and Mike Reilly was 6-of-8 for 53 yards. John White rushed 19 times for 134 yards, Adarius Bowman caught 5 passes for 45 yards and Hugh O'Neill was 3-of-5 on field goals with 2 singles and punted 10 times for a 40.4 yard average. Kendial Lawrence ran a punt back for a touchdown while Dexter McCoil and Aaron Grymes each had 6 tackles and an interception. McCoil added a sack. For Saskatchewan, Kerry Joseph was 7-of-17 passing for 120 yards, 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions. Tino Sunseri was 7-of-15 for 100 yards. Sunseri was the team's leading rusher, carrying twice for 27 yards. Korey Williams caught 2 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, Chris Milo was 1-for-1 on both field goals and converts and Josh Bartel punted 9 times for a 39.1 yard average. Tyron Brackenridge led the defence, with 11 tackles and 1 sack.

For Edmonton, they had 15 first downs, 150 yards rushing, 112 passing and 230 yards total offence. The Eskimos committed 12 penalties for 70 yards, recorded 7 sacks, held the ball for 32:22 and turned the ball over just once. For the Riders, they had 12 first downs, 47 yards rushing, 220 yards passing and 229 yards total offence. Saskatchewan took 10 penalties for 65 yards, had 3 sacks, held the ball for 27:38 and turned the ball over 6 times.

For the Roughriders, their season is over. Edmonton next plays on Sunday, November 23rd in the Western Final at the Calgary Stampeders, beginning at 4:30pm EST. The Eastern Final is also next Sunday, November 23rd, with the Montreal Alouettes, 50-17 winners over the cross-over BC Lions, playing at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, with kickoff set for 1:00pm EST. The Grey Cup will be played on Sunday, November 30th at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, BC.

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