September 16, 2023

Elks stay alive in playoff race with win over Riders

The Canadian Press

REGINA — The Edmonton Elks kept their post-season chances alive with a back-and-forth 36-27 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday at Mosaic Stadium.

Saskatchewan went up by a major twice in the second half before the visitors answered with touchdown marches of their own to tie the game both times. Edmonton then got their first lead of the evening with under six minutes remaining on a 10-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tre Ford and added two more points with a safety with less than two minutes to go for the final score of the game.

Ford also added a passing major to veteran Eugene Lewis and backup Taylor Cornelius threw a touchdown to defensive lineman AC Leonard on a trick play in the first half. Dean Faithfull converted two field goals and four point-after attempts in yet another efficient performance for the Global kicker.

Running back Kevin Brown had a league-high 175 rushing yards to go over 1,000 yards on the season and added another major on the ground in the winning effort for Edmonton, pushing the team to a 4-10 record.

Riders’ pivot Jake Dolegala had three touchdown passes, two to Shawn Bane Jr. and one to Tevin Jones but was unable to complete a comeback effort as the Roughriders dropped to 6-7.

Kicker Brett Lauther went two-of-three and made all of his extra point attempts in the loss for Saskatchewan.

» Depth Chart: EDM | SSK
» Through the Lens: Elks at Roughriders
» Box Score: Edmonton at Saskatchewan by the numbers
» Brown gets career-high in Elks’ comeback victory
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Mario Alford got things going for the Riders with a long return across midfield to set up Dolegala and the offence for success. Saskatchewan’s pivot moved the ball into Lauther’s range and the kicker split the uprights for a 3-0 lead with 8:19 left in the opening quarter.

Later in the first Dolegala went deep for receiver Samuel Emilus who almost hauled it in but instead tipped the ball up when going to the ground and into the waiting arms of defensive back Marcus Lewis for the first turnover of the game.

Saskatchewan’s defence returned the favour with an interception of their own. Ford was trying to throw a screen pass to Brown but the pass was a little high and the running back tipped the ball for defensive back C.J. Reavis to come down with the pick. Dolegala and the offence turned the momentum into seven points with a 13-yard strike through the middle to Bane Jr. that extended the lead to 10-0 late in the first quarter.

The Elks responded with a long scoring driving that started with a 32-yard scamper by Brown followed by an unusual touchdown play. Lined up for a quarterback sneak, Cornelius pulled the ball back and found Leonard wide open inside the end zone to cut the lead to 10-7.

Saskatchewan added another field goal by Lauther to go up by six points with 8:20 left in the first half and Faithfull split the uprights from 16 yards out for a 13-10 score going into halftime.

Edmonton’s kicker scored again to tie the game at 13 with a 40-yard field goal on the Elks first drive of the second half.

Dolegala then moved the ball 74 yards for the home team in the following drive, connecting with Emilus and Bane Jr. to cross midfield before finding Jones on a post route for a 20-13 lead halfway through the third quarter.

Edmonton responded with a touchdown march of their own. Ford rushed for 23 yards on the drive and Brown added 39, including a 34-yard run where the running back found the edge to the right and took it to the end zone to tie the game at 20 with 4:36 left in the third.

An unnecessary roughness penalty kept Saskatchewan’s next drive alive and they turned that opportunity into points. The Green and White uncorked a similar play to the one Edmonton used on Leonard’s touchdown as backup Antonio Pipkin faked the sneak and threw it for a streaking Jamal Morrow for a 57-yard connection. From there Dolegala found Bane Jr. for his second touchdown of the game to go up 27-20.

Elks’ returner C.J. Sims gave his team great field position with a 40-yard return and they used the momentum to tie the game once more. Brown was the one getting things going again with an 18-yard run to the left and Ford went deep for Lewis on a 30-yard major that tied things up at 27 with 12:37 left in the fourth.


Two drives later Lewis beat double coverage on a 38-yard reception to move the ball all the way to Saskatchewan’s 40-yard line. Edmonton’s pivot then finished the job with two runs, the final one a 10-yard major thorough the middle for the go-ahead major.

A sideline catch by Elks’ receiver Gavin Cobb was overturned and forced the visitors to punt with under three minutes to go to give the Roughriders a chance to tie the game. Dolegala and the offence got the ball on their own four-yard line but ended up being sacked inside their end zone for a safety that pushed the lead to two possessions.

Saskatchewan put together a final drive but was unable to find the end zone as Dolegala’s pass fell incomplete on third-and-10 with seven seconds left.

The Riders will be back in action on Friday, September 22, when they travel to Ottawa to face the REDBLACKS, same day the Elks return home to host the BC Lions at Commonwealth Stadium.

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