Lauther’s last-play FG leaves Riders one win from clinching first

The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ hopes of hosting the Western final remain intact.

Brett Lauther nailed a 43-yard field goal as time expired, and the Roughriders won their second game in a row and fourth out of the last five with a 27-24 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday.

The Roughriders (12-5) have earned at least a home playoff date and still have hopes of hosting the Western final. They’ll need to finish ahead of the Calgary Stampeders (11-6) with a win in a rematch with the Eskimos next week to capture the West and earn a bye right to the West final.

“Our goal is to be road warriors,” said Saskatchewan quarterback Cody Fajardo, who earned his 12th win in his first year as a starting quarterback in the CFL, tying the record-setting mark established by Ken Ploen of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1957.

“When the offence was sputtering, the defence held us. When the offence needed to pick it up and make some plays, we made some plays. That’s what championship teams do.

“I’m really excited to see what it will be like to have a home playoff game, I know it will be rocking.”

Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson was impressed with Lauther’s poise with the game on the line.

“He has a bit of clutch in him,” he said. “That was a tough day to kick the ball. It was cold and the wind was really swirling. He’s got some moxie to him, just like a lot of our guys. That was an amazing win.”

The game didn’t have playoff implications for Edmonton (8-9), which already has its ticket booked to cross over to the East.

“Tip your hats to Saskatchewan, they had everything in the world to play for tonight,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “They grinded out that win and you’ve got to give your hats off to them.

“Great effort, it was a great football game. In the CFL this year, a lot of games are coming down to the last three minutes and that one came down to the last second.”

Eskimos quarterback Trevor Harris made his return after being sidelined since Sept. 7 with a hand injury and made a 65-yard pass to Ricky Collins Jr. on his first play of the game, only to then be intercepted in the end zone by Rider Nick Marshall.

Edmonton came back and scored on its next possession, with Calvin McCarty going in on a one-yard plunge.

The Eskimos closed out the opening quarter with Mike Moore recovering a fumble by Fajardo on the Saskatchewan one, leading to McCarty’s second TD on the night.

Saskatchewan got on the board with four minutes left in the second quarter on a three-yard TD run by Marcus Thigpen.

Edmonton made it 17-7 at the mid-mark on a 23-yard Sean Whyte field goal.

The Roughriders closed to within three points on a 25-yard TD pass from Fajardo to Kyran Moore.

Saskatchewan then surged in front on its next possession with a five-yard TD pass to Emmanuel Arceneaux, and added a 30-yard field goal by Lauther midway through the fourth.

The Eskimos tied the game with 1:48 to play when Harris connected with Tevaun Smith for a 12-yard passing TD.

The two teams play a rematch in Regina next Saturday to close out the regular season.

Notes: It was the first meeting between Edmonton and Saskatchewan this season. The late-season matchup meant it had been 383 days since the last Eskimos-Riders contest.

(Canadian Press)

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