Marcus Thigpen found a hole and went 34 yards for the touchdown with 1:29 to play to lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 18-13 on Thursday.
Lirim Hajrullahu's fourth field goal of the night - a 39-yarder - gave Hamilton a 13-12 lead with 6:27 to go in the fourth quarter, but Saskatchewan quarterback Brandon Bridge engineered a four-play drive starting on the Roughriders 33 that was capped by Thigpen.
"It just kind of opened up front side, so I took it and the rest history,'' said Thigpen.
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Roughriders (2-2) head coach Chris Jones wasn't afraid to change his quarterback throughout the evening as Watford made his first appearance on the Riders' third drive of the game.
"I'm hard on (the quarterbacks),'' said Jones. "We're going to keep grinding until we figure it out.''
The Ticats (2-2) dominated the scoresheet in most of the offensive categories with 429 yards of offence compared to the Riders 298. Despite the lopsided numbers, they were unable to cross the goal line all night.
"We knew that they were a great defensive team,'' said Ticats defensive lineman Ted Laurent. "Kudos to them, they had a great game plan.''
Tiger-Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli produced his ninth straight game with 300 or more yards passing to tie a long-standing CFL record shared by Sam Etcheverry and Kent Austin. He finished the game with 333 yards, but no touchdowns and one interception.
Brandon Banks was Masoli's top target with seven receptions for 113 yards.
The visitors opened the scoring with an 11-yard field goal from Hajrullahu on Hamilton's first drive of the game. Hajrullahu would attempt another field goal later in the quarter but missed leading to a rouge.
The Riders appeared to have taken the lead in the second quarter after a mad scramble by Bridge, but after another look by the command centre it was concluded that Bridge fumbled right before crossing the goal line.
Later in the quarter, defensive end Charleston Hughes forced a fumble and 57-yard recovery for a touchdown to give the Riders a 6-4 lead. The Ticats responded with another Hajrullahu field goal for a 7-6 edge at the half.
Brett Lauther added a field goal midway through the third quarter for a 9-7 lead only for Hajrullahu to respond with another field goal of his own.
The see-saw battle continued early in the fourth quarter with Lauther hitting a 41-yard field goal for a 12-10 lead.
Thigpen's game-winning touchdown was the seventh lead change of the game.
"We did what we had to do to win the game,'' said Jones. "I thought our guys did an outstanding job.''
Both teams are now on their first bye-week of the season and meet again on July 19 in Hamilton.
POSTGAME COMMENTS FROM HEAD COACH CHRIS JONES
- Our QBs situation is what it is until we figure it out. I want more out of them. I'm hard on them. They both have unique qualities. Watford's faster but Bridge has more experience. We'll keep grinding until we figure it out.
- It's a heckuva a lot better going into a bye with a win. It feels like forever after a loss. This beats the alternative.
- Steve Spurrier rotated QBs with a lot of success and we thought we'd do the same thing. Watford has 4.5-speed while Brandon's probably 4.7.
- Carter and Messam played better. You've got to give their coaches kudos. We didn't expect them to run the football. We figured out they could hand the football off and get yards.
- We don't worry about (the QBs') confidence. They pay me to figure out which one to play. The best way to stay in there is play well.
- We're doing some good things defensively. We need to figure out how to quit giving up big plays, and fix our errors.
- We did what had to do to win the game. I thought our guys did an outstanding job of getting the calls, keeping it slow and executing the calls. We had very few mental errors. We had some busts physically.
- I don't ever like the byes. But we'll let 'em go home and get them back and work them out one day. But they'll get five days off or so.
- We'll see if Collaros is back. I'm trying to not even think about that. I'll try to win with what we have, pick up some guys, and try to make our football team better.
(With files from the Canadian Press)