By: RodPedersen.com Staff
“Statement game” is an overused cliché in sports but it perfectly sums up the Saskatchewan Roughriders' 30-7 victory in Calgary on Friday night.
The fifth road win of the year sealed a playoff spot for the Green and White for the first time since 2014. With it came the end of a bunch of Stampeder streaks including: an 11-game winning streak (last loss was week two in Montreal), 16-game winning streak against the West Division (last loss was week one last season in B.C.), 19-game undefeated streak at home and 13-game winning streak against West Division teams at home (a 15-11 loss to Edmonton on October 10, 2015 in Calgary was the start of both of those streaks).
The game was won with the Riders biggest strength, big plays on special teams and defence.
It began with a Christion Jones' 61-yard punt return touchdown in the early moments of the second quarter. The third quarter saw a Kamar Jorden fumble (forced by Henoc Muamba who may be the unsung hero of the defence this season) which was returned to the Stampeder three-yard-line by Jovon Johnson which was punched in three plays later for a score. Then the capper, a scintillating Duron Carter interception return for a touchdown which was the final nail in the Stampeder coffin.
This is the way the Riders have won most of their games this season and will be the way they need to win games from here and throughout the playoffs. It’s a razor's edge because being a counter-punch team is tough. If their opponent isn’t turning the ball over and is solid on special teams, it ends up being a grind to find victory for the Riders.
There is hope for the maligned offence and that is their running game. To pile up 150 yards on the ground against the Stampeders is quite the feat, and to do it with a pair of dynamic running backs (Cameron Marshall/Trent Richardson) is even better. It’s a luxury the Riders haven’t had in a while.
One last note from Friday's game, and that is from the post-game comments from Head Coach Chris Jones. He emphatically stated that Kevin Glenn is his starting quarterback. To have your coach's support is one thing, but having such a short leash is another.
Friday night was the third time in the last five games that Glenn has been pulled with some pretty good success. Bridge led the Riders to wins in Calgary and in Toronto while not being able to pull it out of the fire September 24th at Mosaic Stadium against Calgary.
So, for now ... Kevin Glenn is your starting quarterback, at least until his short leash is yanked.
This week was a microcosm of Duron Carter’s career: emotional outbursts from a player with an incredible personality topped off with incredible play on the field.
Fights happen in practice. Back when pads and hitting was the norm, there were many more altercations than there are today. If it wasn’t Duron Carter, no one would care. But a not very well sourced tweet from afar stirred the pot (day one of journalism school says a reporter should always double or even triple source one’s information and well ... let's just say it doesn't feel like that happened).
The Riders circled the wagons and the week finished with Carter playing the Randy Quaid character from Independence Day saying “Up yooouuuurrrrssss!!!” to the rest of the CFL.
In a league devoid of personality, Carter’s outlandish character is so desperately needed as is his incredible play on the field. The Rider staff has done a great job corralling his emotions this season, but there have been a few on-field hiccups. If Carter and the coaching staff can keep them to a minimum, while still encouraging his addicting personality, it will be a win for the team and the CFL.
As it stands right now, there are only two playoff scenarios remaining to be ironed out:
- Ottawa trails Toronto by one point for first in the East. Both teams just have one game left. Ottawa hosts Hamilton this week and Toronto finishes week 20 with a visit to Vancouver.
- Edmonton leads Saskatchewan by two points for third in the West. The Eskimos have a difficult trail to keep third nailed down with Calgary coming to town this week and then finishing at Mosaic Stadium on November 4th.
The Riders host Montreal (in what may be an early Halloween massacre) this Friday night and it will probably come down to the final game of the season against the Eskimos to figure things out (a November game that means something in Rider Nation ... it's been awhile since we've had one of those!).
Saying this halfway through the season would seem ridiculous, but the easier road may be through the West. Calgary and Winnipeg are beat up and both Toronto and Ottawa are playing their best football of the year. So be careful what you wish for when figuring out the best route to the Grey Cup.
|Wanda Harron Photography|
The Hilltop ground game was the difference Sunday afternoon at SMF Field in Saskatoon. Adam Machart had 206 of the Hilltops 297 rushing yards and all four touchdowns were along the ground.
Next up for the Hilltops are the Vancouver Island Raiders. They went on the road in the BC Conference Cullen Cup final and knocked off the Westshore Rebels 21-7. The Canadian Bowl semi-final is this weekend at SMF Field.
The winner of that will face the winner of the Ontario Conference final that pits the Hamilton Hurricanes against the Windsor AKO Fratmen. Just as a point of reference, the Hurricanes lost to the Regina Thunder (61-1) and Edmonton Wildcats (40-37) earlier this year while the Fratmen lost to the Edmonton Huskies (30-7).
Canada West Diary:
The Calgary Dinos raced to a 24-0 lead at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon and held off the Regina Rams 42-30 in the marquee game of the Canada West week. The Rams climbed to within five points late in the game before Jeshrun Antwi sealed it with a late touchdown. The victory sealed first place and home field advantage through the Canada West playoffs for the Dinos. The Rams need a win next week in Vancouver against the UBC Thunderbirds to host a semi-final game.
The Thunderbirds escaped Winnipeg with a 17-16 victory over a much-improved Manitoba Bisons squad. All-Canadian defensive back Stavros Katsantonis had three interceptions to lead the way for the Thunderbirds. They can seal up second spot with a win over the Regina Rams next week.
The Saskatchewan Huskies are making their playoff lives very difficult on themselves falling to the Alberta Golden Bears 49-23 at Foote Field in Edmonton. The win put the Golden Bears into a tie with the Huskies for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Canada West. It was the Huskies fifth straight loss after starting the season 2-0. It will all come down to the final weekend of the season and a myriad of mathematical equations to figure out who will take the fourth and final playoff spot.
Saturday, October 28th (All times local):
Alberta at Calgary 1:00pm
Regina at UBC 1:00pm
Manitoba at Saskatchewan 7:00pm
Canadian to Watch in the NCAA
Patrice Rene - BD
Hometown – Ottawa, Ont.
Class – Soph.
Originally from Ottawa, Patrice Rene finished his high school football career at Episcopal in Alexandria, Virginia before heading to Chapel Hill.
As a freshman with the Tar Heels, Rene played in all 11 games while starting in five. He started this season at corner for North Carolina and in seven games he has 16 total tackles and two tackles for a loss.