REGINA — Darian Durant threw two touchdown passes, while Joe Lobendahn and the defence limited Jon Cornish to 67 rushing yards, as the Roughriders held on for a 30-25 win over the Stampeders on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s game marked the third and final matchup of the season between the two teams , with the Stamps aiming to sweep the season-series over their West Division foes.
The Stamps entered Week 13 hoping to extend their current win streak to five, while the Riders were hoping to get back in the win column, following a loss last week to the Montreal Alouettes.
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To add to the intensity that is always present when the two teams meet, Roughriders Head Coach Corey Chamblin issued a challenge to his team that should Calgary running back Jon Cornish rush for over 100 yards,
After Tristan Jackson returned the opening kickoff 22 yards to his own 38 yard line, the Riders offence took to the field with QB Darian Durant back under centre following a one-week absence with a hip flexor injury.
But Durant and the Riders would run into trouble on their opening series, as receiver Chris Getzlaf fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, handing possession over to the Stamps with a short field to work with.
Fortunately for the Riders, however, Kevin Glenn and the Calgary offence were unable to find the endzone and were forced to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Rene Paredes.
But the Riders offence would regroup quickly, as Durant orchestrated a 12-play, 67-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard punch-in run by Drew Willy, giving Saskatchewan a 7-3 lead in the process.
The touchdown was Willy’s third rushing major of the season and first since the Labour Day Classic in early September.
On the other side of the field, the Riders defence was also doing its part in making sure Calgary was unable to generate any positive momentum.
With their sights set on answering back with a major of their own, the Stamps were stymied by a couple of strong plays by linebacker Joe Lobendahn and DB Milt Collins.
Lobendahn issued a hard hit on Cornish to prevent him from gaining any positive yardage, while Collins sacked Glenn for a seven-yard loss, forcing the Stamps to send out the punt unit.
However, the Riders defence wouldn’t be able to contain the Stamps for much longer.
With the second quarter barely underway, Glenn completed four consecutive passes to Nik Lewis, Rob Cote and finally Marquay McDaniel, who hauled in a 10-yard pass in the endzone to put the Stamps back in front.
McDaniel’s touchdown was his first major of the season, and his first since Week 16 of the 2010 season.
The Riders would respond on their ensuing drive, but not in the manner they would have preferred.
While they did tie the game up with a 37-yard field goal by Sandro DeAngelis, the Riders missed an opportunity to reclaim the lead, as Taj Smith dropped a 30-yard pass in the endzone.
The two teams entered halftime tied at 10 points apiece, setting up what would be an eventful final 30 minutes.
The Riders did a solid job of containing Cornish throughout the first half, limiting the Canadian back to 32 rushing yards on six carries.
As a result of Cornish’s modest first-half numbers, the Calgary offence also put up less-than-stellar production, with Glenn failing to eclipse the century mark in passing yards, while being sacked twice in the process.
The second half got underway with the Stamps taking the lead for the third time in the game, as Paredes connected on a 37-yard field goal to give Calgary a 13-10 lead.
But the field goal duel would continue, with DeAngelis splitting the uprights from 22 yards out to even the score at 13.
The kick was preceded by another squandered touchdown chance by the Riders, as Smith saw another pass sail through his hands in the endzone on second down.
With neither team able to generate any momentum in their favour, the Riders defence finally saw the pendulum swing in their direction, thanks a huge play from Lobendahn.
The 29-year-old linebacker picked off an errant pass by Glenn and returned it inside the Calgary 30-yard line, setting up the Riders offence with excellent field position.
Two plays later, Durant hooked up with receiver Weston Dressler for an 11-yard touchdown pass, giving the Riders a 20-13 lead with 10 minutes to go in the third frame.
But the Roughriders would not stop there. After the defence forced another two-and-out, highlighted by a seven-yard sack by David Veikune, the offence went to work on what proved to be another successful possession.
With excellent field position, courtesy of a 33-yard punt return by Jackson, Durant needed just two plays to add to his team’s lead, finding Smith for a 30-yard touchdown strike.
While the Stampeders would put together some decent offensive production, with Glenn orchestrating a productive nine-play, 37-yard drive, they offence was unable to find the endzone yet again, and were forced to settle on a 44-yard field goal by Paredes.
However, the Stamps offence would continue to chip away at Saskatchewan’s lead, with Glenn leading a determined Stamps offence into Saskatchewan’s redzone.
This time, they would find the endzone, as Glenn hit McDaniel for his second touchdown of the night, and followed up the major with a successful two-point conversion to bring them within a field goal of the Riders’ lead.
The Stamps would bring themselves within two thanks to a booming kickoff by Paredes that sailed through the back of the endzone.
With less than two minutes remaining, the Stamps would take over possession after they held off a strong push by the Riders offence.
However, it would be a case of too little, too late for the Stamps, as the Riders took over possession of the ball and added another field goal by DeAngelis to hold on for a 30-25 win.
On Calgary’s last drive, Glenn was hit hard on a second-down play and was forced out of the game in favour of Bo Levi Mitchell.
Next Week for Calgary: The Stamps return home for the third Battle of Alberta this season as they host the Esks at McMahon Stadium. BUY TICKETS
Next Week for Saskatchewan: The Roughriders travel to Vancouver to take on the Lions at BC Place Stadium. BUY TICKETS