O’Leary: TDA was a football game wrapped in a party

WOLFVILLE — With a dramatic loss still curdling in his mouth, Derrick Moncrief stopped and took one last moment to take in his surroundings.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders found themselves on the wrong end of a last-minute 30-24 loss to the Toronto Argonauts. It was a heated, emotional game that had a total of 25 penalties called for a combined 285 yards. The loss dropped the Riders to 4-2 in what’s already an extremely tight West Division race.

Still, the Riders’ linebacker wanted to address some of the 10,866 fans that made it out to the Acadia University campus.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Moncrief said. “Definitely got to do it again. That was fun. I loved every moment of it.”

» Recap: Argos get a whale of a win over Riders at TDA
» Through the Lens: Riders and Argos meet at TDA
» Watch: Argos take the lead on a pick-six

“I’m definitely coming back here,” Moncrief continued. “I want to come back here and enjoy it. I love the water. I love seafood. We tried to enjoy it, but we came on a business trip. You’ve got to enjoy it on your own time.”

The Riders and Argos likely won’t agree on much in the wake of Saturday’s game, but they all seemed to enjoy their time on Canada’s East Coast.

“I loved it,” Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said.

“A lot of green in there, it’s great that the Rider fans travel like they always do. I thought it was a great environment. We’d love to come out here and play more.”

It was a small crowd by CFL standards, but the 10,000-plus fans at Raymond Field were treated to one of the most entertaining games of the season and got to watch it all unfold under a blistering hot summer day. Dinwiddie is correct in spotting the splashes of green in the crowd, but the Argos had their backers too; especially when they started racking up points in a fast paced second quarter.

“Even at the end of the game our players were over there thanking the fans that came out,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said.

“It was really fun. All things considered it was really an excellent trip. We feel lucky and happy that we were involved in Touchdown Atlantic. We wanted to win this game. But take the loss out of the equation. It was a successful week on a lot of fronts.”

There were moments on Saturday before, during and around the game that shone through. The packed festival grounds adjacent to the stadium; the pre-game ceremonies, the drumline and bagpipes and the flyover.

Home for a rest, a relatively standard stadium/arena anthem in sporting events, took on a feeling of authenticity when it blared over the speakers in Wolfville and fans stood and danced. It was a unique, fun day, wrapped around a compelling offering of professional Canadian football, even if the emotions on the field ran higher than they normally do.

“Don’t get me wrong now, it was a party,” said Argos linebacker and St. Francis Xavier alum Henoc Muamba.

“We had a lot of fun out there. It was amazing atmosphere. The east coast, Atlantic Canada, really wowed us for real. We’re excited. We all had a lot of fun and again, it’s always good to get a win.”

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