October 12, 2023

Stamps host Riders in key battle for post-season berth


CALGARY — The Saskatchewan Roughriders pay a visit to the Calgary Stampeders on Friday night looking to lock down their position in the playoffs.

A Saskatchewan win puts them three games ahead of Calgary with two weeks remaining, therefore securing their spot in the post-season.

A Stampeders victory earns them the edge in the season series and keeps their slim playoffs hopes alive.

Losers of five straight heading into the game, the Riders need their best effort to snap their losing streak. A bounce back performance from Jake Dolegala is required after he threw for 154 yards and failed to find the endzone against Hamilton a week ago.

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They say your best players need to be your best players in the biggest moments, meaning Samuel Emilus, Tevin Jones and Shawn Bane Jr. are be under pressure to perform. The three receivers rank eighth, ninth and 10th in receiving yards, respectively, with Emilus sitting 97 short of 1,000.

Running back Jamal Morrow looked every bit the top rusher he is in the Riders latest loss, totalling 120 yards and a touchdown on the ground while also catching two passes for 26 yards. With the team searching for their rhythm through the air, Morrow should see his fair share of touches.

The running back understands the margin for error is getting slimmer with each passing week.

“We still have hope and we need to just go out and play,” Morrow told Riderville.com.

“It’s enough saying next week, next week. It’s time to do it. We have to do it and something needs to change. We need to go ahead and figure it out as players what we need to do to be better.”

The Stampeders Week 18 bye gave them a chance to regroup and prepare for their biggest game of the year to date.

Linebackers Micah Awe and Cameron Judge will be expected to make an impact in the air and on the ground on defence. Awe has 107 defensive tackles and a pair of interceptions, while Judge brings 72 tackles and three picks into the game.

The Stamps secondary is second best at limiting yardage thanks to the strong play of defensive backs Jonathan Moxey, Tre Roberson and Kobe Williams. It’s a group that is holding opponents to 235 yards per game.

The extra time to get ready for the game should also benefit the offence as they rank seventh in passing and rushing yards. Jake Maier sits third in the CFL with 3,820 yards and has found the endzone 15 times.

It’s limiting interceptions that’s the key for Maier, as he’s thrown 15. Nick Marshall leads the Riders with four picks and is tasked with helping to shut down the Stamps top receivers.

It’s a receiving corps that will be without top target Reggie Begelton who’s out with a chest injury. That means the likes of Luther Hakunavanhu, Marken Michel and Tre Odoms-Dukes are needed to step up in his absence.

With Saskatchewan surrendering 124.3 yards on the ground per contest, Ka’Deem Carey could be in for a big game. Much like the receiving unit, the run game is missing a key piece in Dedrick Mills, who sits this one out. In Mills’ place is Peyton Logan.

Responsibility for closing space on the ground falls on a physical defensive line of Christian Albright, Micah Johnson and Pete Robertson. Behind those three, linebacker Larry Dean has recorded 98 defensive tackles.

The Stampeders understand the task at hand and what’s at stake heading into the game.

“We’re in it, we’re alive,” head coach Dave Dickenson told Stampeders.com.

“We’ve been talking about urgency and we need to win, we need to get the job done but it’s staring us right in the face. I feel like our guys have played hard. I don’t think we’ve ever not had our foot on the gas, we just haven’t found a way to produce winning football enough. We just have to play better football.”

The importance of this game is straightforward. A win and the Riders are in. A loss and the Stamps are out.

Kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET. Canadian fans can watch the game on TSN while U.S. and International audiences can catch the action on CFL+.

— With files from Riderville.com and Stampeders.com

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