Lions storm back to beat Riders 32-17


Game Recap

Nathan Rourke continues to prove he’s one of the top QBs in the CFL as he led the BC Lions to a 32-17 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Rourke’s night ended with 336 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. Keon Hatcher had 110 yards receiving to lead the Leos.

Saskatchewan did start the game with some momentum.

It did not take the Riders defence long to force pressure on Rourke. Anthony Lanier registered his fifth sack of the season on the first play of the game. On the second play Rourke scrambled for 12 yards, but because of the sack on the previous play, the Lions were forced to punt. A 74 yard boot by Stefan Flintoft gave a small 1-0 edge to the Lions.

After opening with a two and out, Cody Fajardo and the Riders offence found some rhythm when he managed to avoid the pass rush and connect with Samuel Emilus for a 32 yard reception. The drive would stall at the BC 20, setting up a 28 yard field goal to give the Riders their first lead of the game.

Charleston Hughes made his presence known as he forced a fumble with a sack on the first play of the Lions third possession. Keion Adams recovered the loose ball to give Saskatchewan excellent field position.

The Riders would take advantage of the turnover as Tevin Jones hauled in eight yard toss from Fajardo to give the green and white a 10-1 lead.

BC would start the next possession at their 50 yard line following a kick that went out of bounds. The Lions would march the ball inside of the Riders ten yard line before stalling, setting up a 16 yard field goal by Sean Whyte.

Jamal Morrow would kickstart the Riders offence on the following drive, he would begin taking a swing pass from Fajardo for a 12 yard gain. The next play the running back took a hand off and rattled off a 28 yard carry. Morrow continued his strong drive with an excellent pass block on a Lion blitz, giving Fajardo few extra seconds to complete first pass of the night to Duke Williams for a 16 yard catch. The next play, Fajardo snuck into the endzone as Saskatchewan extended the advantage over BC to 17-4.

A Saskatchewan miscue would lead to some Lions points, as a missed field goal by Sean Whyte was returned by Mario Alford who ran the ball out to the two yard line. The next play Morrow was unable to make it out of the Riders endzone as BC collected a safety to make the score 17-6.

Following a rouge, the Lions offence was able to generate momentum on their final drive of the first half. Rourke was able to connect with Keon Hatcher for a pair of catches for 51 yards before setting a one yard QB sneak by Rourke for a one yard touchdown as the first half ended with a 17-14 Riders lead.

After Saskatchewan was unable to score in their opening possession in the second half, Rourke used his elusiveness a couple of times on the drive to set up BC deep in the Riders side of half. The Lions were able to take the lead after Rourke took advantage of extended time in the pocket and was able to find Dominique Rhymes who made a nice one handed grab to score as the Lions grabbed 21-17 lead in the second half.

To kick off the final quarter, the Lions had a drive extended following a roughing the passer penalty by Lanier, that allowed BC to move ahead far enough for a 40 yard field to pad the Lions cushion to 24-17.

Another Lion receiver would provide another highlight reel catch, this time Jevon Cottoy made a leaping catch in the endzone for a 15 yard reception as the Lions turned the lead into a two possession advantage at 31-17.

Former Rider Loucheiz Purifoy provided the final blow of any chance of a Rider comeback when he intercepted Fajardo’s pass with around four minutes remaining in the game.

Mason Fine would come in relief for Fajardo the final series on offence for the green and white.

Saskatchewan’s losing streak is now extended to three games as their record drops down to 4-4. They’re now on the bye, the next game is Saturday, August 13 in Edmonton against the Elks.

Fajardo ended his night with 168 yards passing and a touchdown with an interception.

Post Game Notes.

After the game both Fajardo and Riders Head Coach Craig Dickenson felt the Riders lost momentum when they conceded the safety following the return by Alford.

“I’ll take the blame for that one” says Dickenson, “I gave Mario the option to bring it out, probably should’ve told him to take the knee, I’ve learned over the years when you give the returner the option they’re going to bring it out mostly every time.”

The Riders Head Coach added that he would have like his returner on the play Alford run upfield with the ball instead of running towards the side of the field.

“He’s got to get more north-south, our guys got to do a better job blocking for him, we got to get better all the way around. ”

According to Fajardo, the Riders lost a lot of momentum when they gave up the two points.

“I think we only had five plays in the second quarter, which felt like we barely had the ball, kind of just dragging down the field and we got out of rhythm.”

It was a tough night for the green and white offensive line as they allowed four sacks. Logan Ferland was playing his first game at centre this year  and feels the o-line needs work with the misdirection.

“As a group I think we need to be better in our twist pickups especially when it’s a four man rush or even a five man rush with a little pressure.” Ferland also noted communication is something the offensive line has to improve on.

The offensive lineman says the Riders have to improve the way they end of the game.

“To me it all comes down to the last quarter every game that’s when a team pulls away, it’s what we talk about in the offensive room, it’s about the finish, and we need to do a lot better job finishing.”

On the defensive side of the ball, while Rourke had an excellent game for the Lions, Riders linebacker Darnell Sankey felt the defence made it easier for the Lions to suceed on Friday night.

“I think we kind of didn’t just execute, some of the plays we knew what they were doing and they did it.” Sankey added. “I think we have to regroup, refocus, I think towards the end we lost a little bit of  juice.”

Looking back at the turning point of the game, Sankey felt it was the Lions being able to score early in the second half was the difference of the game.

One thing Dickenson mentioned Saskatchewan needs to do is to build momentum from their practices.

“We need a full week of practice, we need to stack practices back to back to back to back where we play well in practice, make plays in practice and it carries over into the games.”

After jumping out to a 4-1 record, the Riders have lost their last three games, and afterwards sounded like a team that could use a bye week as a chance to escape the mental grind of the season.

Dickenson says that he will be giving his players a full seven days off to allow them to be recharge. The Riders Head Coach says with the 4-4 record through the opening eight games, the Riders will be taking the approach that their record is 0-0 when they return to action.

For Fajardo, the break will be beneficial both physically and mentally.

“The most important thing is to go home and see my wife and actually be a human being and not just a football player that’s what I’m looking forward to.” Among the plans for Fajardo during the bye week is a baby shower.

“There’s a lot more to life than football, especially when you are on a three game skid, sometimes life outside of football brings you back energized and I’m very thankful for this job but I think getting away a little bit will help all these guys in the locker room including myself.”

A much needed break for the Riders is on tap, they’re next game is Saturday, August 13, when they meet the Edmonton Elks.



More from 620 CKRM