REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders may have lost much more than a football game on Saturday night. The B.C. Lions walked out of Mosaic Stadium with a 40-27 victory but star Rider quarterback Darian Durant left the facility on crutches after suffering an ankle injury in the game's second quarter with Saskatchewan leading 10-7.
"He's hurt," Roughriders Head Coach and GM Chris Jones reported after the game in a news conference. "His x-rays were negative, thank goodness. We don't know exactly what it is, we just know it wasn't broken. I'm hoping that (Sunday) morning the prognosis is good."
Durant was 7/10 for 104 yards and a touchdown in his 20 minutes of work while his replacement Mitchell Gale went 17/30 for 247 yards and a touchdown in relief. However the Riders were unable to hold their 23-10 halftime lead and fell to a CFL-worst 0-3 with the loss.
|Durant watches the second half|
"We're just going to take it day-by-day," Durant told reporters after the game. "What we do know is that it's not long-term and we're just going to go from there. I know it wasn't my Achilles. I know that feeling for sure. I'm just glad that it's not a broken bone. That was my biggest concern."
Lions defensive tackle Micha'el Brooks was responsible for the play which ended Durant's night and the quarterback was asked if the hit was intentional.
"I don't want to speak on someone's intentions because I don't know that," Durant offered. "But to me it was borderline dirty. I don't think he had to go low and do what he did but I'm not going to call him a dirty player or say it was a dirty play. But I do think it could've been handled in a different way."
Jones was asked about the play of Brooks who was flagged twice for major fouls on Roughing the Passer, yet was able to stay in the game.
"I'll just let the League do the answering on that," Jones said. "So you can call the Commissioner and ask him that question. #90 (Brooks) tried to do a good job of pretending he didn't mean to hit Darian on that other one. We've got to take a good look at that, I think, to make sure that we protect our quarterbacks. They're too valuable to this league."
As for the Lions, quarterback Jonathan Jennings threw three second-half touchdowns and rallied the Lions from a 13-point halftime deficit, finishing the game 25-of-40 passing for 429 yards.
"Things were clicking for us, finally,'' Jennings said. "It was good to see the offence get on the same page. We came out in the second half and did some good things.''
The second-year player also had 30 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground in a game that saw B.C. improve to 3-1 and grab a share of first place in the West Division.
Saskatchewan led 23-10 at the half thanks to touchdown receptions from Bagg and Nic Demski and three field goals from Tyler Crapigna.
But the Lions got rolling late in the third quarter when Jennings hooked up with left tackle Jovan Olafioye on an eight-yard touchdown pass and catch on a trick play. On the next B.C. possession, Jennings dropped in a pretty 30-yard pass to Nick Moore, a score that put the Lions ahead 26-23 early in the fourth quarter.
Crapigna tied it up with his fourth field goal, but the Lions again had an answer. Jennings found a wide-open Shawn Gore for a 59-yard touchdown strike to put B.C. ahead for good with eight minutes remaining in the game. Anthony Allen added a touchdown along the ground to put it out of reach.
"We just had to take a deep breath and just having to anchor down and make some plays,'' said Lions receiver Manny Arceneaux, who had six catches for 83 yards. "It took every guy to look one another in the eye - quarterback, running back, receivers, linemen, everyone - and say to each other that we have to get the job done.
"The coaches just sat back and let us play. That's the trust that we have to earn. Let us be men, and they let us play tonight. They let us sort it out.''
In addition to Durant going down, the Riders also lost all-star left guard Brandon LaBatte with an undisclosed injury, as well as receiver Shamawd Chambers and cornerback Justin Cox. It is unknown whether any of those players will suit up next week.
"Injuries weren't why we lost the football game,'' Jones said. "It was a tough night, but we lost because we took too many penalties on special teams in the second half and then we had two coverage busts for touchdowns. Those were just the glaring mistakes.''
Gale, in relief of Durant, completed 17-of-30 pass attempts for 247 yards and one touchdown. Naaman Roosevelt was his favourite target, hauling in eight passes for 132 yards.
(With files from the Canadian Press/Craig Slater)