With an unusual score of 12-11, it was an unlikely ending at Mosaic Stadium on Thursday night. The Saskatchewan Roughriders (3-1) defeated the Edmonton Elks (0-5) thanks to a rouge on the kickoff following the Saskatchewan game-tying touchdown.
Moments after the Riders tied the game with 1:04 remaining in regulation, Elks. CJ Sims elected to let the ball roll into the endzone and conceded the point, giving Saskatchewan the victory.
Nic Marshall would seal the win for the Roughriders for the second consecutive game with an interception off Edmonton quarterback Taylor Cornelius with 20 seconds remaining.
Saskatchewan picked up their first win at Mosaic Stadium since July 8, 2022.
Points were hard to come by from the get-go, with both offences moving the ball down the field, but unable to finish it into the endzone. On the Elks first possession, Cornelius was more successful on the ground than he was in Week 1 against the Roughriders as he moved the chains on three occasions thanks to his feet. Dean Faithfull was unable to split the uprights as Edmonton could only salvage a point.
Saskatchewan’s offence was led by their rushing attack on their second drive with Jamal Morrow and Frankie Hickson each picking up a first down. With a chance to take the lead, the Roughriders couldn’t capitalize with a first down at Edmonton’s five yard line. After a Morrow run, two passes from Harris fell incomplete.
Missed opportunities continued on both sides in the second quarter. Former Roughrider A.C. Leonard forced a fumble, knocking the ball out of Harris hands to give the Elks ball inside of Saskatchewan territory. Edmonton didn’t walk away with any points when Faithfull 46-yard attempt sailed wide left. Mario Alford ran back the missed attempt 125-yards for a touchdown, but before the green and white could celebrate their first points of the night, they were called for a holding penalty, bringing the ball back inside their 11-yard-line.
On their final drive of the opening half, Saskatchewan picked up their first points when Brett Lauther hit a 12 yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. The drive was powered by a pair of receptions by Mitch Picton for 56 yards.
Edmonton would score the first touchdown of the game 5:30 into the third quarter with Cornelius plunging in for a one-yard touchdown.
Saskatchewan tried to answer back on the following possession, but miscommunication between Harris and his receiver led to an interception by Marcus Lewis to preserve the Elks eight point lead.
Faced with one final chance to tie the game, Harris found Picton in the end zone, to cut the deficit to two points. On the two-point attempt, Harris found Kendall Watson in the endzone to tie the game at 11-11, which set up the game winning point.
After the game Harris wasn’t sure how they were able to walk away with the win, he said that he was preparing himself for a possible overtime when the game-winning rouge occurred.
“I feel like we’re getting some traction and we made the plays when we needed to and fortunately we did, it’s a big win being 3-1.”
The Roughriders quarterback described Thursday’s win as gutsy.
“I thought that was a gutty drive at the end, I thought that was a gutty stop at the end.”
With back to back game clinching interceptions, Marshall says he’s more concerned with the end result.
“It’s feel great to get a win for our team, but at the end of the day it was about getting the win for our team.”
For the local product Picton, it was a big night under the familiar lights at Mosaic Stadium, with four receptions, 76 yards and a touchdown. He believed he had a good grasp of the green and white offence from the beginning of camp.
“To be able to come in and perform under these circumstances I felt like tbat was something I was prepared to do.”
Picton added that there’s something special developing with the team.
“It’s a gritty win, a lot of guys believe in each other, love everybody in this room, so I mean you can never count out a bunch of guys who believe in each other.”
Head coach Craig Dickenson described Picton has a glue-guy.
” He keeps people together and when his number called he makes plays, we’re really proud of the game he had tonight.”
The Riders head coach believes his team’s unity was a key point in the win.
“We don’t apologize for winning. There’s a lot to learn from that game, but the one thing I tell you what. our guys stayed together, they just kept working. and good things happen when you work hard, we were fortunate there.”
Dickenson was proud of the way his team was able to keep their composure and show their resiliency in the win.
“There could’ve been some bickering on the sidelines and there was none of that, guys just kept working, encouraging each other, I felt like the sideline was excellent for a game where it could’ve been less than ideal.
Harris ended his night with 289 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Tevin Jones had four receptions for 60 yards.
On defence, Larry Dean had nine tackles, with C.J. Reavis providing eight tackles.
Cornelius had 226 passing yards with an interception along with 58 rushing yards. Kevin Brown also had 65 rushing yards.
Former Rider Kyran “Swerve” Moore had five receptions for 47 receiving yards.
Another former Rider who had a big night for Edmonton was AC Leonard with three sacks.
For the fourth straight season, Saskatchewan claimed victory in the season series against the Elks.
Next Saturday, July 15, the Roughriders can make it an Alberta sweep in a season series, when they host the Calgary Stampeders.
Saskatchewan defeated Calgary in Week 3 at McMahon Stadium.