Monday, October 8, 2018
FAMOSO RECAP: ROUGHRIDERS 19 ESKIMOS 12
REGINA - Willie Jefferson made the big play when it mattered most.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders' defensive end soaked up spotlight as only he could in his team's thrilling 19-12 victory on Monday over the Edmonton Eskimos after snagging a Mike Reilly pass attempt and returning it 49 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Jefferson's final two yards on route to the end zone weren't without flair as he took his time crossing the goal line.
"It was just a good instinctual play,'' Saskatchewan's Ed Gainey said.
"Willie is the type of guy who is going to get pressure on the quarterback and if not, he's going to drop back and try to get his hands on the football. It's not the first time he has done that. Credit to Willie for stepping up in a big-time moment and making that play.''
It was the Riders' league-leading seventh defensive touchdown of the season.
The play wasn't without controversy, however. Reilly was driven to the turf hard by Saskatchewan's Zack Evans and Edmonton head coach Jason Maas challenged the play. He felt Evans should have been flagged for roughing the passer. Much to his frustration, the play stood.
"It sure looked like (Reilly's) head snapped back. (The officials) took an awful long time to look at it, and, in their opinion, it wasn't (a penalty),'' said Maas.
"I know Mike feels like his chin was hit. So, if your chin is getting hit, that means a helmet is hitting it. If it slid up from the chest, I don't know. Apparently that must have been the call.''
A frustrated Reilly said after the game it wasn't up to him to decide. Reilly completed 13-of-27 pass attempts for 222 yards. He was intercepted three times, including twice inside Saskatchewan's 20-yard line.
The win improved the Riders' record to 10-5 and pushed the team closer to a home playoff game. Saskatchewan sits alone in second place in the CFL's West Division, four points ahead of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who they will face on Saturday in a key divisional matchup. The Riders have won seven of their past eight games.
Edmonton (7-8) lost its fifth consecutive road game and dropped into fifth place in the West. The B.C. Lions are 7-7.
"We had a 12-9 lead with two minutes to go and give up a pick-six to get beat. If that's not frustrating, I don't know what else is,'' Maas said. "When you have momentum and when you have a lead for most of the game and it comes down to the last minute and 50 seconds and you lose the game because of it, that sucks. It's hard to deal with.''
Edmonton will return home to take on Ottawa on Saturday in a must-win game.
"We can't dwell on this loss,'' Maas said. "It hurts. It sucks. We have to keep fighting. We have three games left and they're all important now.''
Brett Lauther kicked four field goals for Saskatchewan. Sean Whyte kicked four field goals for the Eskimos.
The Riders' offence had scored at least 30 points in each of the past two games in wins over Toronto and Montreal. Their production dried up on Monday, however, with just 281 yards net offence. Quarterback Zach Collaros, despite completing 25-of-38 attempts for 259 yards, did not reach the end zone. He was intercepted once.
Shaq Evans had six catches for 59 yards and Kenny Shaw added five receptions for 70 yards.
Reilly had his favourite target, Duke Williams, back in the lineup on Monday. The CFL's leading receiver left last week's game with a shoulder injury and it was anticipated he would miss significant time.
Williams led the Eskimos on Monday with six catches for 78 yards.
POSTGAME COMMENTS FROM CHRIS JONES
- Have you looked at our schedule? We're going against a very good Winnipeg team on a very short week, with travel. They're fighting just to be IN the playoffs with BC and Calgary wants to win the division. It's a very tough road and we can't worry about anything but winning our games.
- We stubbed our toe and had a lot of drops. When we had protection, Zach didn't make the throw. When we made a play, then there's a flag. It was just one of those tight games.
- We just got in our gaps, and it's called execution. We had a couple of different calls to mess with their protection a bit. If you don't, he's going to dice you up. We only played a couple of plays of zone.
- You don't ever apologize for winning a football game, especially when you beat a guy who I know what kind of competitor he is. Even on the last play, he tried to win the game. He carries his football team and they believe in him. For us to win that game, it's a testament to what kind of team we are. It's a good unit with a really good bunch of coaches.
- The penalties were frustrating. We had 100 yards at halftime. We knew that group of officials. They throw the most U-R penalties in the league. The fifth-most called penalty with that grup is U-R and we had three in the first half.
- Hats off to of our guys and you have to give credit to Jason and their staff. They came in with their backs to the wall and took us to the end of the game.
- The short week is one of those deals. Everybody has them. We had a couple 8-day weeks in a row and they seem like two weeks. You're not going to draw up too much new this time of the season. You'll look at what you have and pick and choose what you want.
- Jordan Williams-Lambert should be okay. We'll see more in the morning.
- There's been pressure on us all year. Here in Saskatchewan you can't drop a game, and that's what's fun. This time of year you have to play execution-football. That was a playoff type game and you knew it was going to go down to the wire.
- Winnipeg is close but you still after to get on a plane and stay in a hotel. There are a lot of requirements to our coaches that are unseen to the average person. There's more than just going to Winnipeg and playing a game. There's a lot that goes into it.
- 10 wins don't matter. We gotta win this week and that's all we can worry about. We gotta get some rest, watch the film and get ready for Winnipeg Tuesday afternoon.
- Unfortunately that game over in Edmonton, if you remember, we didn't execute on five QB sneaks. It's satisfying to come out of this game with a win and try to get a little bit better.
- I got enough to worry about. I can't worry about two football teams. We've strung together a nice little stretch here. We just need to get a little bit faster and a little bit stronger.
(With files from Canadian Press/Craig Slater)