REGINA – Darian Durant found Greg Carr late in the fourth quarter for a 46-yard touchdown and held off a late BC surge to defeat the Lions 27-21 at Mosaic Stadium.
Carr’s touchdown, his first as a Rider came under a two minutes to go in the fourth quarter and proved to be the difference maker.
The game-changer however, was Weston Dressler who finished with 9 receptions for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Both teams came off of divisional wins which have become all the more important as teams fight for playoff positioning in a very competitive West Division. So competitive, that the Riders and Lions won their games last week by a combined 6 points.
The Lions entered the game with the league’s best record, but had the Calgary Stampeders in their rear view mirror. A quick start, which has eluded them for much of the season was paramount entering a raucous Mosaic Stadium.
A blazing start was not on either team’s resume at the start but the Roughriders finally broke the deadlock in the first minute of the second quarter, when QB Darian Durant found WR Dressler in stride for a 13-yard touchdown to cap off a 11-play, 78-yard drive.
The major was Dressler’s first against the Lions in his five years in the CFL.
It didn’t take long for the speedster to get his second.
Durant, Dressler and the Riders were going up a bit of a different-look Lions defence. Defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell sat out with a sore thigh and it also marked the return of Solomon Elimimian to the BC lineup. A lot of questions had been asked leading up to his return given that LB Adam Bighill has been nothing short of outstanding in filling the void at middle linebacker.
The two defenders, alongside veteran LB Anton McKenzie, were rotated in different formations, keeping all three active in the game.
As for the Riders defence, they were active in the first half, dropping back and keeping the majority of Travis Lulay’s passes in front of them.
The Lions would get their first point in the way of a Paul McCallum single with 8:30 left in the first half.
Dressler almost added a third touchdown in as many drives but it was called back on an offsides penalty by the newcomer Carr, forcing the Riders to settle for a 30-yard Sandro DeAngelis field goal to increase the lead to 17-1.
The teams would trade interceptions on consecutive plays and the Riders would add a single point before the teams headed to the locker room with Saskatchewan holding onto an 18-1 halftime lead.
More concerning for the Lions was the health of their receiving corps. Arland Bruce lll went down near the end of the first quarter after absorbing a hit where he fell awkwardly on his head. Meanwhile Geroy Simon hobbled into the locker room after pulling up with a hamstring injury on the last drive before the break.
Both would not return.
The Riders defence was relentless to begin the second half, pinning Lulay and the Leos deep and swarming their receivers downfield.
A Riders turnover on downs in short yardage gave BC their first break of the game with just under 8 minutes left in the third quarter, leading to a McCallum 40-yard field goal to dent the lead to 18-4.
Not to be outdone, the Lions defence stepped up in the third quarter holding Durant and the Riders offence to punt from their own end. The Riders would add another punt single but would lose WR Jock Sanders on the drive that led to it. Sanders, who had put forth a strong 7-catch, 65-yard performance made a catch but planted on his left knee which bent aggressively, forcing him to be helped off the field.
On the Lions next possession, they would finally enter the red zone for the first time after a Tristan Jackson pass interference call on a deep pass to Shawn Gore set BC up at the Saskatchewan 18 yard line.
Lulay was once again shut down however, and McCallum would be called upon to make a 25-yarder and make the Riders lead 11.
Lulay would finally find the endzone and extend his consecutive games with a touchdown toss to 24 when he found Marco Iannuzzi for a 24-yard touchdown just before the three-minute warning to cut the Riders lead to just 6.
The Riders would answer back on their next posession however, as Durant found Carr wide open in the endzone for a 46-yard touchdown graband a 27-14 lead.
What seemed like a defensive battle in the second half suddenly opened up as Lulay found Iannuzi once again three plays after the kickoff for his second touchdown in three minutes to cut the lead to 27-21 with 1:18 on the clock.
The Lions would recover an onside kick but couldn’t find the endzone and the Riders intercepted a Lulay pass on third and 15 to seal the win.
Next Week for Saskatchewan: The Riders head to Rogers Centre for a matchup witht the Toronto Argonauts Thanksgiving Monday. BUY TICKETS.
Next Week for BC: The Lions host the Calgary Stampeders in a crucial West Division game with playoff implications involved. BUY TICKETS.