Saturday, November 8, 2014

Riders snap skid with win over Edmonton

Regina, SK. -- The Saskatchewan Roughriders wrapped up the regular season Saturday night against the Edmonton Eskimos, winning 24-17 and breaking a five-game skid in the process in what turned out to be a West semifinal playoff preview.

Edmonton took the opening kick and drove into scoring position, where Hugh O'Neill would miss a 37 yard field goal attempt wide right. The Roughriders were unsuccessful in running the ball out of the end zone, resulting in a single point, for a 1-0 Eskimo lead just 3:31 into the contest. Operating against the best defence in the CFL, Kerry Joseph led Saskatchewan into the red zone. The drive would fail, as Chris Milo missed a 35 yard field goal attempt, leaving the deficit at 1-0, with 8:07 to play in the first.

With the snowflakes falling, the Riders would mount a drive late in the first, carrying over into the second. Keyed by the rushing of Steven Miller, who ran 3 times for 56 yards, Saskatchewan quickly moved into scoring position. Allen, after a series of penalties on both teams, would run the ball 17 yards down to the 7. Play action from Joseph to Korey Williams took the ball to the 1. From there, Joseph went over the right side for the major, scoring in his 111th CFL start. Milo converted and with 12:38 to play in the half, the Roughriders were up, 7-1. O'Neill would kick a 20 yard field goal with 6:43 to play in the half, slicing the Saskatchewan lead to 7-4. The Riders would respond with a drive that included converting a 2nd and 29. The drive would stall, bringing on Milo for a 39 yard field goal, increasing the lead to 10-4, with 3:11 left in the second. After a turnover, Saskatchewan hit the red zone again, thanks in part to a 23 yard scramble by Joseph. Williams then went the final 18 yards on a busted play for the touchdown. A two-point try failed and the Riders were up 16-4, just 45 seconds away from half-time.

Thanks to a short punt and a major penalty for no yards, Saskatchewan would set up shop at the Edmonton 40, with just under 3:30 gone in the half. It would take the Roughriders just one play to score, as Tino Sunseri hit Rob Bagg at the goal line for the score. Milo kicked the convert and with 3:52 gone in the third, Saskatchewan was up 23-4. The Eskimos responded on the ensuing possession, reaching the Rider 15, before settling for a 22 yard O'Neill field goal, cutting the Saskatchewan lead to 23-7, with 5:06 remaining in the third. Late in the quarter, Milo would miss from 42 yards out, but did get a single point, putting the Roughriders up 24-7, the score coming with just 2 seconds left in the third quarter.

After being turned away by a Woodny Turenne interception, Edmonton would march deep into Saskatchewan territory on their next turn with the ball. The drive would stall and O'Neill would come on to kick a 24 yard field goal with 6:20 to play, slicing the Rider lead to 24-10. The Eskimos got a spark late in the quarter, recovering a fumble deep in Saskatchewan territory, with 3:47 left in regulation time, setting up a first-and-goal at the 3. Matt Nichols scored from 2 yards out two plays later and with the O'Neill convert, Edmonton was suddenly down by just 7 at 24-17, with 2:53 to play. Miller would return the kick out to the 35 with 2:45 left, but the Roughriders went 2-and-out, punting the ball away with 1:58 to play.However, the punt was fumbled away and Tristan Black scooped it up, giving Saskatchewan the ball back. The Riders went 2-and-out, once again punting the ball away, this time with 1:14 to go. The Eskimos got the ball back at their own 5, with 1:04 left.Edmonton gained two first downs, then punted the ball away after a second down pass completion but weren't able to run onto the ball, with time running out and Saskatchewan holding on for the 7 point win.  

For the victorious Roughriders, Kerry Joseph was 5-of-16 passing for 71 yards, Tino Sunseri was 2-of- for 59 yards and a touchdown and Seth Doege was 1-of-3 for 12 yards. Anthony Allen ran 13 times for 81 yards and Rob Bagg caught 3 passes for 65 yards and a major. Chris Milo was 1-for-3 on field goals with a single and 2-of-2 on converts, while Josh Bartel punted 9 times for a 39.5 yard average. Macho Harris led the defence with 8 tackles. The Eskimos were led by Matt Nichols, who was 30-of-42 passing for 262 yards, while being intercepted twice. He ran the ball 6 times for 13 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Thomas ran 10 times for 66 yards and Fred Stamps caught 5 passes for 59 yards. Hugh O'Neill was 3-of-4 with a single on field goals, 1-for-1 on converts and punted 6 times for a 37.5 yard average. The defence was paced by Dexter McCoil, who had 5 tackles and 1 sack.

With the win, Saskatchewan finishes the regular season at 10-8, while Edmonton finishes at 12-6. These two teams aren't done with each other however, as they will meet in Edmonton for the West Semi-Final on Sunday, November 16th, with kickoff set for 4:30pm EST. Catch all the action with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri on 620CKRM, the Rider Radio Network and The game can be seen in Canada on TSN and in the U.S. on ESPN2.

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