REGINA - Ed Gainey intercepted Jonathon Jennings three times in the first half - returning one for a touchdown - and had four in total as the Saskatchewan Roughriders blew out the visiting B.C. Lions 41-8 Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.
The victory kept the Riders (3-4) close to the pack in the competitive West Division and four points behind the fourth-place Lions (5-3). It was the first Riders win versus a divisional opponent this season.
The Edmonton Eskimos, who the Riders will visit after a bye this week, lead the West with a 7-0 record.
Leading up to the back end of this home-and-home set with the Lions, Riders head coach Chris Jones stressed that his team needed to have a fast start at home for a shot at an upset victory.
His wishes were answered.
Gainey's first interception set up the first Riders touchdown - a 35-yard passing play from Kevin Glenn to Bakari Grant.
On the ensuing drive, Gainey again picked off Jennings and returned it 49 yards for a second Riders touchdown. The Riders led 15-0 after the opening quarter.
The home team held the momentum into the second quarter.
Cameron Marshall (one-yard run and 29-yard reception) scored two touchdowns and the Riders' lead swelled to 29-0 going into halftime.
Jennings, who missed the previous three games with a shoulder injury, was replaced briefly by Travis Lulay in the first half, but did return under centre to start the second half.
However, Jennings' bad luck continued on the opening possession. He marched the Lions to the Riders' five-yard line, by far their deepest drive of the game, but his fourth interception of the night snuffed that drive.
A seven-yard touchdown catch by Duron Carter late in the third quarter pushed Saskatchewan's lead to 36-0.
The Lions finally got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter when Jennings hooked up with Chris Williams, who sprinted past the secondary for a 56-yard touchdown. Marco Iannuzzi caught a two-point convert that made it 36-8.
Saskatchewan's defence registered five interceptions - the other coming from Derrick Moncrief - and four sacks.
Glenn finished the night with 320 passing yards and three touchdowns. Jennings completed 14-of-30 pass attempts for 195 yards. He had one touchdown and four interceptions.
The Lions return home to take on the Calgary Stampeders (5-1-1) on Friday. The Riders have a bye.
CHRIS JONES POSTGAME COMMENTS
- Since we've been here, this is the most solid game we've played. In all three phases, we finished.
- We took the ball to open the game just because we've started slow lately. We said if we won the toss, we'd take the football just to switch things up.
- I'll be honest be with you, we called the exact things on defense that we did last week. No deviation. We didn't change one thing. The difference tonight was, we executed.
- It was a real, long, hard week. We've had a bad taste in our mouths since that game in BC. We were embarrassed when the spotlight was on us and it didn't sit well with anyone in our football operations department. So it just felt real good to get out there tonight, execute, and get a win over a very good football team, a western opponent, who's used to winning.
- These back-to-backs cause dissension. But it wouldn't have changed our attitude if we were playing somebody else. However we had a bad taste in our mouth and there was only one way to get it out.
- They're a tough team and they're well-coached. Wally has good players and very explosive players that can get down the field in a hurry. Again, the game plan was simple. We kept 'em off-balance with our offense and Craig Dickenson did a great job with the kickoffs, not allowing them to get downhill. It was the same game plan, with better execution.
- I've been listening to some of the comments from the players. It's real easy when you drop a couple games that it's coulda, woulda, shoulda. A lotta guys want to stand up and talk but talk only takes you so far. You have to have a 4-man rush, win one-on-ones, and do the things that every good team in football does.
- I've been on Ed Gainey to be more aggressive since camp. I told him he's a good player who hasn't been playing like a good player. Tonight I saw the confidence from him and he knew he's not there to just knock a football away. He has to take the football away
- Duron Carter and I meet everyday for 5-10 minutes and talk about the day, and how we're going to do things. It helps my rapport with him and I'm sure he'd say the same thing. He told me that he can play DB and he covered Caleb Holley in practice. He was doing it well so when Kacey Rodgers got hurt, he was the best option.
- We're gonna take the bye and think about what happened in Calgary and BC. We played decent football in Montreal but shot ourselves in the foot. But there were two black eyes in Calgary and BC. We'll take a close look at what we do on the road and come up with a solution.
- We had a tough week. I wasn't the happiest of characters at a lot of our practices. Normally we zip through the 12 plays on team run very quickly but it wasn't physical enough. We had to do something to shake it up. You have to do something different sometimes to get a different result and I think they responded.
- A couple of years ago in Edmonton we had byes situated like this. We take pretty good care of our players with practice. They get off the field early so they can get more film time. We're trying to be more efficient to get them off their feet. We're hoping that down the stretch that the way we practice will be a feather in our cap.