REGINA – Chris Milo booted a 36-yard field goal with no time on the clock to lift the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the Montreal Alouettes 24-21 at a sold-out Mosaic Stadium.
The 40,637 on hand counted as the third-highest crowd in Riders history as they expanded their capacity to accomodate the 101st Grey Cup in November.
The Alouettes, known over the years for their big-play ability in previous years, entered the game with only six plays of over 30 yards on the year thus far.
|Related: Als at Riders|
» Video: Montreal at Saskatchewan Recap
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» Video: Calvillo Leaves With Injury
» Video: Dressler Lays Out for 21-Yard TD
» Video: Milo's Game-Winning Field Goal
» Video: Smith's Game-Tying TD
» Video: Jerald Brown's Fumble Rec. TD
» Calvillo suffers "head injury" vs. Riders
» Preview: Als, Riders meet at Mosaic
Off the bat though, they got their biggest play from scrimmage of the year. Facing a second-and-long, Anthony Calvillo dodged the pass rush of DE John Chick, stepped up and found SB SJ Green down the seam for a 75-yard catch-and-run. Calvillo went back to Green two plays later and found him wide open in the endzone but Green misjudged his timing and the ball sailed incomplete.
The Als settled for a 15-yard Sean Whyte field goal.
The Roughriders then went to work, off the heels of their first loss of the season against the Calgary Stampeders a week ago.
After an impressive 35-yard kickoff return from SB Jock Sanders, QB Darian Durant drove his team 58 yards on 7 plays and found his favourite target, Weston Dressler, in the back of the endzone for a diving 21-yard touchdown and an early 7-3 lead. Facing a potential punt situation, the drive was kept alive the play before when Durant scrambled 10 yards for a first down.
With the Alouettes offence looking to establish some rhythm, their worst nightmare came true when Anthony Calvillo absorbed a hit from DE Ricky Foley and had to be helped off the field with 14:47 left in the second quarter. He was diagnosed with a “head injury” by head coach Jim Popp.
He did not return. When he left, Calvillo was good on 4 of 8 passes for 85 yards.
In came Josh Neiswander behind centre for Montreal. In his third year out of Angelo State, Neiswander was seeing his first CFL action. Neiswander finished the game 12 of 30 for 147 with 2 interceptions and no touchdowns.
Making matters worse for the Als was all-star left tackle Josh Bourke also left the game with an injury on the next possession.
After the team’s traded single points, the Alouettes’ special teams looked to help Neiswander out by providing him with excellent field position. Kyries Hebert pounced on a Jock Sanders punt return fumble and set the Als up at the Saskatchewan 12 yard line.
The Riders goal line defence stood strong however as DB Weldon Brown came off the right edge and stopped RB Jerome Messam in the backfield, forcing the Als to settle for a field goal.
|Calvillo leaves with injury|
With 14:47 left in the second quarter, Als QB Anthony Calvillo absorbed a hit from Riders DE Ricky Foley and left the game with what Jim Popp described as a "head injury".
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Not to be outdone, the Alouettes defence did their part with their quarterback out against the league’s most potent offence thus far in 2013. They forced a Durant fumble and a punt as the teams headed into halftime with Saskatchewan holding a slim 8-7 lead.
Perhaps the most disturbing site from a Riders standpoint was Rob Bagg who left with what looks to be an injury to his left knee with 1:28 remaining in the second quarter. Bagg’s knee injuries are well-documented as he has missed almost two full seasons with injuries.
The Als special teams continued to help their offence out as the two clubs hit the field for the second half as they pounced on another Sanders fumble on the opening kickoff. It put the Als on the Saskatchewan 35 yard line.
Whyte would add a 24-yard field goal as the Als took their first lead since the first quarter, 10-8.
The third quarter and early in the fourth was the battle of the kickers as both Whyte and Milo kicked three-pointers to bring the score to 14-14. But the real story was Saskatchewan punter Ricky Schmidt who was blasting the ball all day long had three boots that surpassed the 60-yard mark.
The Riders offence remained under control midway through the fourth quarter by an Alouettes defence that was poised to keep them out of the endzone.
At 8:21 Montreal forced the Riders to punt but not before veteran slotback Geroy Simon added to his long resume, hauling in his 1,000th career reception. In doing so, he became only the third player in CFL history to reach the mark. Coincidentally, Simon's first reception came against those same Alouettes way back in 1999.
Despite having limited reps behind Calvillo, Neiswander continued to move the ball well, marcing the Als into Saskatchewan territory with just over three minutes remaining. He connected with Green twice but the second completion went for not as the Riders forced a fumble and recovered on their own 33 yard line to stop the drive.
The defences continued to make plays. The Als next drive saw DB Dwight Anderson pick off a pass but the biggest play of the game was looming.
With under two minutes remaining, Durant was flushed from the pocket and hit. He fumbled and the loose ball was scooped up by Jerald Brown who took it 55 yards down the sideline for what many thought would be the game-winning touchdown, taking a 21-14 lead.
Durant would get the ball back but this time would make no mistake, finding Taj Smith in stride for a 65-yard touchdown catch-and-run to tie the game at 21 with 1:02 left in the contest.
The Riders defence would force a two-and-out on the next drive and set up a thrilling finish.
Dressler fielded the ensuing punt and took it 40 yards to put the Roughriders in Montreal territory. Two carries for Kory Sheets combining for 9 yards set up Milo for the game-winning field goal with no time left.
Next up for the Roughriders is a matchup with the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday.
As for the Alouettes, they host the BC Lions at Percival Molson Stadium on Thursday evening.