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Mitchell Blair | Riderville.com Staff
OTTAWA — The 2014 season is a long way from being over, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders may have found that successful formula.
The Riders used another solid effort from a defence that came out with high intensity to force some early turnovers as they defeated the expansion Ottawa REDBLACKS 38-14 Saturday night.
The defence forced Henry Burris and the Ottawa offence to settle for a two-and-out on their first drive and that was all Darian Durant and the Saskatchewan offence needed.
Durant led the team down the field on a 6-play, 78 yard drive capped off by a 25 yard TD toss from Durant to Brett Swain. A Tristan Jackson interception on Ottawa’s next possession led to a short Chris Milo field goal and a Brian Peters interception on Ottawa’s next possession led to a short TD run by Will Ford. The quarter was capped off by Jackson taking a missed Brett Maher field goal and returning it 111 yards to put the game firmly in Saskatchewan’s control after just 15 minutes.
When it was over, Head Coach Corey Chamblin saluted his defensive troops for their effort.
“The guys came out and they came out fast again, “Chamblin told 620 CKRM’s Carm Carteri. “We adjusted to everything they were doing very quickly. This unit is starting to understand what it takes to be a good football team. We said we have to be tougher and they realized that.”
Several players had big nights, but no one had a better game than Jackson. The defensive back was all over the field making plays and giving the team good field position in returning kicks. He says his performance is just a thank-you to a head coach who gave him a second chance at playing the game he loves and that on this night everything went right.
“I just go out there and have some fun. That’s the mentality I have when I step on the field. “Jackson said. “Coach C gave me the opportunity last year to start playing this game again and I thank him each and every week by giving him the best I have. Tonight, I had some breaks go my way so that things got noticed, but it was something I try to do each week.”
As for the offence, the defence made things more comfortable for them for the second straight week by putting them in ideal field position, but Durant still had to get points on the board, which he did. The North Carolina grad seemed to be more at ease with Chris Getzlaf back in the lineup as the Regina born receiver returned by catching 5 balls for 57 yards, but it was Rob Bagg who was the top receiver on this night as the Canadian, who played his college ball at Queens, hauled in six balls for 123 yards. Bagg says having Getzlaf back on the field certainly helped things out.
“Let’s be honest – Getz is one of the best receivers in the league,” Bagg stated. “He slows down the game for you and makes it easier for everyone by just being on the field. When we get all five guys together and going, we’re going to be deadly.”
The win leaves the Riders with a record of 3-2, but they don’t have much time to soak in this victory. They will be back on the field Thursday night as they are in Winnipeg to play the Blue Bombers in the first of three games over a five week span. Under former Rider quarterback Drew Willy, the Bombers have been rejuvenated this year starting the season at 5-1. Game time from Winnipeg is 6:30.