Saskatchewan’s offensive stars were shining bright on Friday night as the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Ottawa Redblacks 28-13.
Duke Williams had seven catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, while Jamal Morrow had 145 combined yards on offence to power the Riders to a win.
The green and white defence made an early impact forcing a turnover on the opening Redblack possession. Caleb Evan’s attempt on a third and short attempt was denied by Rolan Milligan that gave the Riders the ball at the Ottawa 38.
Saskatchewan was unable to take advantage of the field position as Lorenzo Mauldin picked up the second Redblack sack of the night to put a halt to the Riders early plans. Brett Lauther connected on a 50 yard field goal to give the Riders a 3-0 lead.
After winning a challenge on a pass interference call on Ottawa’s Avery William allowed the Riders to move the ball inside of the Redblack ten yard line. Once again the Riders drive ended with a Ottawa sack as they picked up their third sack of the night, courtesy of Tre Hornbuckle. Lauther then connected on a 28 yard field goal to give the green and white 6-3.
Starting from their own nine yard line, Duke Williams helped the Riders kickstart the offence. He began the drive with a 28 yard reception that took Saskatchewan out of the shadow of their own end zone. The possession would end with a 19 yard touchdown reception from “Duke” with the Riders expanding the margin to 13-3 early in the second quarter.
A key knockdown from the secondary by Milligan later in the quarter forced another field goal from Ward to cut the deficit to 13-6.
Frankie Hickson got the Rider fans off their feet late in the first half with an explosive 63 yard touchdown run.
Following a quick Ottawa punt, the Riders closed out the first half with a late drive that ended with Lauther’s third field goal of the night to end the half with a 22-6 advantage for Saskatchewan.
On their opening possession of the half, the Redblacks responded with their first major of the evening as Nate Behar caught a 22 yard reception to make the score 22-13.
The Riders weren’t fazed by the strike from the Redblacks as the green and white offence proceeded to march the ball down the field on the following drive that was capped off by a 18 yard touchdown catch and run from Kian Schaffer-Baker as the Riders regained a double digit lead 28-13.
Tempers boiled late in the fourth quarter after a low hit from the Riders Garrett Marino was ejected from the game with a 25 yard penalty with a low hit to Redblacks QB Jeremiah Masoli. The Redblacks QB had to be helped to the sideline as a skirmish developed along the Riders sideline.
For the second straight week, Nick Marshall provided the final blow with a fourth quarter interception.
Hickson ended his night with 92 yards rushing.
Fajardo was 17 for 22 for 231 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns.
The Riders improved their record to 4-1 on the season.
After the game Riders Head Coach Craig Dickenson said the hit from Marino to Masoli brought down the elation of an important victory. “I talked to the guys for three minutes, told them the schedule, didn’t hand out game balls, didn’t do anything I would normally do. ” The Riders Head Coach despite a big win, the antics of the hit really overshadowed an important win.
When Marino was ejected from the game, he celebrated with flexing motions as he walked into the dressing room, the antics was something Dickenson was not pleased with, noting that’s what likely caused the reaction from the Redblack’s sideline.
Dickenson feels the league will address the hit but noted the team will being dealing with the matter in house as well.
While he was disappointed with his defensive lineman, the Riders Head Coach feels Marino has made strides in his discipline over the last year but added that Friday night’s display was a step back.
Fajardo went to console Masoli after he went down from the hit and says it’s a big blow to the entire league whenever a top player goes down. “Anytime you lose a top tier quarterback like Masoli in the CFL, it hurts the product, it hurts the game and he is a guy who I looked up too in this league. ”
The Riders QB said it was important reestablish the connection with his number one receiver, Duke Williams tonight. “Just getting him in rhythm, getting our timing done, we talked about when he didn’t practice because of an injury it’s hard to go out there and perform timing wise, so there’s going to be times where you don’t complete passes, I was really proud of our relationship continuing to build because we’re going to need him down the stretch making those incredible catches for us because he makes us a whole different offence.”
Duke noted after the game the timing was a little off with Fajardo which the wide receiver took the blame for. He adds with a full week of practice, that he will be back on the same page as the QB next week.
Last week Williams didn’t register a catch in the Riders win against the Montreal. The former Auburn Tiger was happy to be back in the receiving stats this week.
“It just felt good to see a ball, catch a ball, and it’s only up from here, I’m going to play better every game, I’m going to get better, I know that, I know what type of player I am, the league know what type of player I am, they can sleep from the slow start, they can keep sleeping, I’m going to let them sleep and I’m just going to do my job.”
The touchdown scored by Hickson was his first one as a pro, the Liberty product gave a lot of credit to the offensive line on the touchdown.
“Our offensive lineman are dominant at what they do, each individual job that we task them to do, they do it to the best of their ability, so it makes my a little bit easier.”
When running into the endzone for the touchdown, Hickson added he used the giant video screen in the endzone to give an idea if there were any defenders nearby. “That was the very first time I was able to do that and it actually helped and I was pleasantly surprised by that, I got to see that last defender that was kind of getting close I was uh, ok, we’re good. ”
Friday’s win was an emotional one for linebacker Larry Dean who registered an interception in the win. It was a year ago to the day where Dean tore his Achilles at training camp with the Riders. He was happy to take another step forward in his comeback season. “Things have come full circle, get the interception, be one of 12, it’s an awesome feeling.”
Dean says he is grateful to be back on the football field. “It’s just a blessing, to be back in this room with the guys, being out on the field, and last year I was in that box, in the bullpen for a whole year watching the guys and just imagining myself making plays and affirming things with words.”
The veteran linebacker said as a leader of the defence that the team will address Marino about the hit of Masoli and the antics that followed the QB’s injury but Dean added they he is hopeful they can lead Marino on to a better path.
A battered Riders team suffered a couple of injuries throughout the game with defensive end Pete Robertson and receiver Mitchell Picton both going down.
The Riders are off until next Saturday when they meet the Toronto Argonauts as apart of Touchdown Atlantic.
Dickenson says after the game he wants to win, but he also wants to do it the right way. “We can win classy and that is not the way I want us to win football games.”