Mosaic Stadium looked like a snow-globe, but it was no childrens movie on a frigid Sunday night.
A tremendous 2018 Roughriders season ended with a thud as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ground out a 23-18 victory over the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL Western Semifinal.
The Riders are headed home far earlier than expected, while the Blue Bombers punched their ticket to Calgary and next Sunday's West Division Final versus the 13-5 Stampeders.
When it was officially announced that Zach Collaros was ruled out for Sunday's game - presumably still nursing concussion symptoms from the Odell Willis hit on October 27th - many in Rider Nation had much of their hope sucked out of them. Brandon Bridge was anointed the starter and the Riders' hopes for the second season fully rested on his shoulders.
|Watch NY-SF Monday Night at Famoso Downtown!|
The Blue Bomber defence was prepared for Bridge, and the elements. They packed the box and left it in the right hand of Brandon Bridge to win or lose. Rider running backs had a total of just 29 yards on the ground on 12 carries, which is under 2.5 yards per carry.
They played this game perfectly. As did the Bomber offence.
The Saskatchewan Roughrider defensive front was bullied all game long. They knew Winnipeg would run the ball and even knowing that, the Blue Bomber offensive line made short work guiding Andrew Harris to 153 yards on the ground at an 8.1-yard-per-carry clip.
It seemed like the Rider defence also had a tough time tackling, at the wrong time of the season.
Matt Nichols was incredibly efficient as well, keeping things simple and not making any mistakes.
All game long, fans were waiting for that big play. A Willie Jefferson strip and score, an Ed Gainey interception return, a Kyran Moore punt return for a touchdown, or even a Marcus Thigpen 55-yard run to the end zone.
Winnipeg was not having any of that Sunday afternoon. They were the better team and there was zero doubt about it.
The question will be out there, “Would the Riders have won with Zach Collaros at quarterback?”
Who knows, and we never will. The 2018 season is officially over for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
It was a season with so much promise, but in the back of everyone’s minds there was that thought that something was missing.
So many questions heading into the off-season and we here at Out of the Tunnel will tackle them all:
- The coaching staff will look drastically different with the new salary cap on football operations.
- Chris Jones is heading into the final season of his contract. Will he extend for another year or receive a multi-year extension?
- Why did the offence take a huge step back in 2018?
- A new collective bargaining agreement is on the horizon.
- With how beat and battered Zach Collaros is, will there be a whole new crop of quarterbacks at training camp in 2019?
- How will the AAF impact the retention of current free agents and the recruitment of future CFLers?
All of that and more, but first we all have to endure the rest of the CFL season and watch one of Calgary, Hamilton, Winnipeg or Ottawa hoist the Grey Cup.
Before we put the game to bed, one of the things that has to be addressed is the grotesque hit on Brandon Bridge on the second last play of the game on Sunday.
Jackson Jeffcoat lunged into Bridge with a textbook illegal hit if there ever was one. Every one of the officials missed it and for the second game in a row, a Roughrider quarterback received a severe head injury when it wasn’t necessary.
Jeffcoat should miss the next game, plain and simple.
The NCAA has it right. After years of finessing, they have pretty much figured it out. If there is contact to the head of any ball carrier, it is flagged by an official and then sent up to a replay booth to be reviewed.
The hit will be judged as either just a major foul for unnecessary roughness or tack on a game misconduct. If that game misconduct is in the second half, that player would then miss the first half of the upcoming game.
If all the officials missed the hit, which mainly happens on kick returns, the replay official buzzes the on field official and the process begins from there.
The CFL needs to fix this, players safety is on the line if this continues to happen.
The 15-yards probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the game, but a severe punishment for hits such as this are needed to keep the game we all love around. If not, what parent in their right mind would want to put their child into football if they know that hits like this are still allowed at any level.
Huge congratulations to head coach Scott Flory and his University of Saskatchewan Huskies. They were giant killers on Saturday knocking off the previously undefeated Calgary DInos 43-18.
The Huskie defence intercepted the Canada West MVP Adam Sinagra four times while Tyler Chow ran for 222 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
This was the first Hardy Cup victory for the Huskies since 2006 and will take on the undefeated Western Mustangs next week at the Mitchell Bowl in London, Ontario.
Prairie Football Conference:
There will be one more football game played in Saskatchewan in 2018 and that is for the Canadian Bowl.
Next Saturday, November 17th, the Saskatoon Hilltops look for their fifth straight national title as they host the Langley Rams. It’s a 1:00pm kickoff at SMF Field.
Hergy Mayala – Sr.
Receiver - Connecticut
High School – Trinity Pawling (NY)
Mayala had a breakout junior season with the Huskies in 2017 with 43 catches for 615 yards and seven touchdowns.
His senior season hasn’t been as strong, but it has been a rough season for UConn with just a single win in 10 starts this season. Mayala has 31 catches for 294 yards heading into the fnal two weeks of the season.
(By RodPedersen.com Staff)