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SASKATCHEWAN – In his first start of 2023, Jake Dolegala was up against a BC Lions defence that had previously held the Saskatchewan Roughriders to nine points in their previous meeting this season.
A West Division opponent, he knew that nothing was going to come easy against a strong defence and solid offence. Both sides of the Lions’ squad lived up to that, forcing the Riders to play until the final seconds nearly completing a comeback win.
But Dolegala and his receivers did their part to ensure enough points were on the board to win even when the Lions had second half momentum, while the Riders’ defence made crucial plays including a sack in the fourth quarter to seal victory.
“It feels great, obviously, it was a bit nerve-wracking at the end there but that’s why I’ve just got to trust in my defence,” Dolegala told TSN’s Brit Dort after the win.
“We snuck one out, but [I’m] just proud of the guys up front, proud of the receivers making plays for me, it was just a team win all around, [I’m] very, very happy.”
Dolegala was 19-of-28 for 239 passing yards and three touchdowns in the win, finding three different receivers for each touchdown he threw. The defence did their part early as well, forcing fumbles off of sacks to get the Riders great field position.
Targeting seven different receivers in the game, Dolegala found Jerreth Sterns and Kian Schaffer-Baker for long balls that were carried to the end zone, as well as a massive grab from Samuel Emilus who Dolegala had a connection with downfield all game.
“We call him ‘Himilus’ for a reason, that guy is that dude – I think everyone in that receiving room is that dude, and you’ve just got to get them the ball, and I tried tonight,” said Dolegala.
Going into the game the Riders knew that the Lions were capable of producing a high-powered offence, which was seen heavily featured in the fourth quarter as Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 455 yards and three touchdowns himself as the Lions scored 13 unanswered points late.
But being able to take down a team of that caliber and hold on instead of crumbling under pressure is one of the main takeaways the Riders will have from the win, and will keep learning from their game as they face off against another West Division powerhouse in Winnipeg after their week off.
“It’s always good going into a bye week with a win, we’re just going to build off this, I know guys are going to be working, resting up, we’ve got to get a lot of these guys back,” said Dolegala.
“We’re excited, we’re excited for these next couple of games coming up, we play Winnipeg here, so bye week and then we’re back to work.”