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REGINA – It was a battle of which defence was going to hold on longer and when the final whistle blew it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders holding onto a 17-1 win over the Edmonton Eskimos in front of 31,459 at Mosaic Field in Regina.
It has been a defensive battle from the beggining with both teams combining for 10 quarterback sacks.
Both offences got off to a sluggish start with penalties taking centre stage but the Riders would get on the board first with under a minute left in the opening quarter when K Chris Milo hit a 32-yard field goal to put Saskatchewan up 3-0.
The Eskimos passing game just couldn’t seem to get in a rhythm, leading to starter Steven Jyles being pulled midway through the second quarter for backup Kerry Joseph.
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No stranger to Rider Nation, Joseph remains a hero in Regina after leading them to a Grey Cup Championship and earning a Most Outstanding Player award back in 2007.
Jyles tried numerous times to stretch the Riders defence, throwing deep balls that either sailed just over or just under his intended receivers. He finished the first half with 26 yards on only 3 of 10 passing.
After his first drive stalled, Joseph had great field position – after the Riders were pinned deep – scrimmaging from the Saskatchewan 37 yard line but after the first rushing attempt by Hugh Charles was snuffed out by the Riders d-line, DE Brent Hawkins pounced on a fumble to put Darian Durant at the home offence back on the field.
They too were confused by the Eskimos defence as after trading punt singles and the Eskimos conceding a safety, the teams went into halftime with the Riders up by a narrow 4-1 margin.
Jyles returned to start the second half and led an impressive drive to start but the Esks’ best chance to put more points in the board to that point was taken away when Grant Shaw missed a long field goal, sailing it wide right.
The defences continued to dominate heading into the fourth quarter with the two clubs combining for 8 quarterback sacks as the third frame came to a close.
Jyles’ tough night continued when he was hit hard on three consecutive plays and left the game with just under nine minutes left. Joseph returned to take over the Edmonton offence. It is not certain whether Jyles left because of injury or a lack of production.
Joseph would concede the Riders’ sixth sack of the game and with 2:12 left in the game, Sheets wiould ice the game for Saskatchewan by taking a handoff off-tackle and bursting 34 yards for the game’s one and only major.
Any hope of an Eskimos comeback was dashed on Edmonton’s next possession when Joseph missed his intended target and was picked off by the Riders’ Craig Butler which set up a Chris Milo field goal to confirm the 17-1 win.