REGINA -- Kory Sheets ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, while the Roughrider defence held strong with a clutch goal line stand, as Saskatchewan hung on for a 14-9 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday evening.
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Heading into today’s matchup, the Eskimos made it clear that quarterback Mike Reilly would no longer be restricted from fleeing the pocket, saying that this week’s playbook would be much more suited towards his skill-set, one that includes running the ball.
Midway through the opening quarter, the Eskimos stayed true to their word, as Reilly took off for an 11-yard gain to help move the offence into Roughrider territory and ultimately set up a 46-yard field goal by Grant Shaw after the drive stalled two plays later.
Late in the first quarter, the Roughriders would embark on a lengthy drive that would lead to the game’s opening touchdown.
Starting from their own 35 yard line, quarterback Darian Durant would go on to lead the Riders 80 yards downfield on 10 plays, the last of which being a 20-yard completion to Weston Dressler in the endzone for six points.
The Roughriders managed to extend their drive thanks to a fake punt attempt that saw Neal Hughes carry the ball for a six-yard gain on third down.
Saskatchewan’s first half onslaught didn’t end there.
On their next possession, Durant, along with Sheets, helped engineer a nine-play, 55-yard drive that was capped off by a five-yard run by Sheets to extend Saskatchewan’s lead to 11.
Saskatchewan’s offence cooled off though, thanks to some staunch defensive play by the Eskimos.
First, Durant saw his pass intercepted by Donovan Alexander, which was followed up by an Eric Samuels sack the next time they were on the field.
Despite the strong play on the defensive side of the ball, Edmonton's offence wasn’t able to generate any traction, which gave plenty of work to the punting unit.
Even when it finally appeared that Edmonton’s offence had started to garner some traction, Saskatchewan’s defence did their part to ensure they wouldn’t go very far.
After completing a 59-yard pass to Matt Carter, then moving up 15 extra yards two plays later as a result of taking a high hit by Carlos Thomas, Reilly saw his pass intended for Calvin McCarty intercepted by Tyron Brackenridge, ending all hope for a late-half score.
The two teams would go into the locker room with the Roughriders leading 14-3.
Aside from a punt single by the Esks, the early parts of the third quarter saw little action offensively, as units on both sidelines weren't able to generate much pressure. Late in the frame, both defences came up big, as they registered consecutive interceptions.
First, Reilly's pass was snagged out of the air by Diamond Ferri, who returned it 30 yards into Edmonton territory. But before the Riders offence could get their feet wet, Durant saw his pass picked off by Rennie Curran, who had a lengthy return of his own, running it 21 yards back in Saskatchewan territory.
The interception led to another field goal by Shaw, cutting Saskatchewan's lead to seven points.
Moments later, Edmonton would pull within one, as Riders punter Ricky Schmidt was forced to kick a loose ball into his own endzone.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Roughriders drove deep into Edmonton territory, and seemed primed to find the endzone. However, after Sheets was stuffed on second-and-three, Chamblin opted to keep his offence on the field rather than attempt a short field goal.
On third down, Drew Willy was also stuffed, turning the ball over to the Eskimos without any points. Fortunately for the Riders, the Eskimos weren't able to translate their added momentum into any progress on the scoreboard.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Roughriders would survive a formidable scare, as they held off a furious charge by the Eskimos who were closing in on the endzone, stuffing their scoring attempt from one-yard out.
As a result of the goal line stand, the Riders managed to hang on to a 14-9 victory. With the loss, the Eskimos have officially been eliminated from competing in the 101st Grey Cup Playoffs.
Next week, the Riders will welcome the BC Lions to Mosaic Stadium, while the Eskimos host the Stampeders at Commonwealth Stadium.