REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders gave Chris Milo the boot earlier this season in favour of veteran Paul McCallum. On Saturday, Milo was happy to return the favour.
Milo, who signed with Ottawa on Aug. 1, hit three of four field goal attempts - including the go-ahead 14-yarder with six seconds remaining - to guide the Redblacks to a 30-27 comeback victory over the host Roughriders.
Ottawa won its third game in a row and improved to 7-4, while Saskatchewan dropped to 1-11 in front of 30,480 fans at Mosaic Stadium.
"It felt good. You always want to do well against teams that let you go,'' said Milo, who spent four seasons with Saskatchewan. "This team is progressing and playing good football and at the end of the day our ultimate goal is to compete for first place in the division.''
Milo's kick helped him atone for his missed convert with 2:34 left in the fourth quarter that would have put Ottawa up 28-24. The Riders' Tristan Jackson returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards and three plays later McCallum booted a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 27. Ottawa decided not to receive the kickoff and pivot Henry Burris guided the Redblacks on a seven-play, 68-yard drive capped off with Milo's winning field goal.
"It was all about taking what they gave us,'' Burris said about the drive. "I had to use my feet at times to move the chains and just chip away. There was plenty of time and no need to rush things.''
Burris threw for 477 yards and two touchdowns in the game, relying heavily on receiver Chris Williams (eight catches, 137 yards, one TD). Ottawa's Ernest Jackson caught six balls for 101 yards while Greg Ellingson had 45 yards receiving to go along with a TD.
The Redblacks trailed 20-14 at halftime, but outscored Saskatchewan 16-6 in the final two quarters. It was a similar story last week against the B.C. Lions, when Ottawa outscored the Leos 17-0 in the second half en route to a 31-18 victory. In its last three games, Ottawa has outscored teams 54-9 in the second half.
"We make great adjustments at half time. As the game goes on, our team figures out a lot of the things the other team is doing and we put ourselves in position to be successful,'' Burris said. "Saskatchewan is a great team and their defence played a heck of a game tonight, but we found ways that could help us be successful and at the end of the day it helped us win a big game.''
Kevin Glenn, who was activated off the six-game injured list this week to replace Brett Smith, went 16 of 29 for 227 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Riders (1-11). Naaman Roosevelt hauled in three catches for 95 yards and a touchdown for Saskatchewan while Jerome Messam rattled off 53 yards on 10 carries. McCallum hit 4 of 5 field-goal attempts.
It was another case of close, but no cigar for Saskatchewan.
"I certainly can't question the guys' effort, but some of the little challenges we've had in the past came back in this game at inopportune times and we weren't able to finish with the victory,'' Rider head coach Bob Dyce said. "Whether it's a procedure call or sack that takes you out of field goal range, those are things that have to be corrected.''
Glenn moved into seventh all-time in CFL career passing yards, passing Matt Dunigan. Burris made his 215th career start, ranking him fifth all-time in the CFL.
John Chick, who recorded one sack for the Riders, now has seven sacks in his last seven games. Roosevelt's 71-yard touchdown catch was the longest scoring play for Saskatchewan this season.
(Canadian Press/Craig Slater)
HEAD COACH BOB DYCE
- When you look at the big picture of things, we had a few errors that cost us at times. I don't think the game should've been this close. We didn't score touchdowns and we could'nt hold them when we needed to. I didn't think it should've been that close.
- I think special teams, at times, gave us the ball in good field position. You need to capitalize. We had takeaways that we didn't get points from and that cost us in the end.
- At times I thought our D-line, we don't send a lot of pressure, but the front four battled all game. T-Brack got in there at times. Offensively I'd like to see it more consistent so we don't get in 2nd-and-long situations.
- It's funny you say I'm in a tough spot. As a coach, you're always thinking about winning each week and putting the best players on the field. Jeremy and I will sit down and see what the plan is for the future. For me, my thought process doesn't change. I plan to put the best players out there next week to beat Montreal.
- Disheartened for the guys. I told them after the game I can't fault their effort but some of the challenges of the past came back and cost us the victory.
- That's a good question (why the problems keep costing them). Whether it's a procedure at one time or a sack that takes you out of field goal range, those are things that have to be corrected.
- The final timeout call was a miscommunication and I'll take that. Coach Quick was talking to Brack and I hustled in late and he didn't understand my instructions. I didn't want to take a time out at that time, but rather as soon as they'd run the play. I should've run out there earlier so he was exactly clear as to what I wanted.
- It's funny, I don't know that everything fell apart. We just weren't able to capitalize on some things. If things had fallen apart, we would've been blown out. Tristan Jackson's returns put us in some great situations but we have to score touchdowns instead of field goals.
- Kevin managed the game well for a guy who hadn't played in a few weeks. He missed some throws but I thought played reasonably well.
- You never want to give up that type of yardage. It's hard to win a game when you do. But obviously we have to look at what allowed Burris to rack up that amount of yards.
- I know the character of this football team. I've been around it the past 12 weeks. That's not what we're going to find in the weeks ahead. We'll prepare to beat Montreal.
- I guess maybe this is where you learn things as a head coach. I don't know any other way to prepare than to win. Whoever's on the roster, we'll prepare to beat Montreal next week.
- I told Nic Demski that we have to listen to instructions and realize. There was a lot of game left and we knew we'd need him the rest of the game. We go forward from there.
- The first thing I said to him is to lift his head up. I don't want him to put his head down because that's admitting defeat. His confidence has risen. It's just like a loss. You can only dwell on it so long and you have to go forward. He won't make the same mistake again.
- I think, like I said, it's a great group of players. They obviously take this very seriously and to heart but we preach accountability. We're all accountable so it doesn't surprise me they said they're accountable for their actions on the field. We as coaches are no less responsible than they are.
LB TYRON BRACKENRIDGE
- We fell a little short today. We let some little things turn into big things.
- Everybody knows Henry. He's a big time playmaker. When you're dealing with a guy like that you have to be consistent and we weren't.
- We have some great young guys. Hollins shows up week in, week out. Mertile and Webster come to play as well.
- I love being out there. My passion takes over and I just fly around. I'll play wherever they ask me.
REC ROB BAGG
- Playing the slot provides you a few more opportunites. Getting a win would've overshadowed everything. This is extremely frustrating.
- Kevin did a good job coming back from injury and running the offense. I'd love to have that last offensive series back because we could've done some good things but it wasn't meant to be. But KG did a great job in there.
- The only way you can approach it is prepare your best and play the best because you don't know how many games you have left as a player period. There's no guarantees so it's essential that each player does their very best to put themselves in the best position for the days ahead.
- I don't have a comment on the future. It doesn't matter who's on the field. If you're on the field you have to do your job even if you're a practice player.