The Edmonton Elks (4-10) running game spearheaded their comeback on Friday night, with the Elks defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-7) 36-27. Running back Kevin Brown led the way with a career-high 175 rushing yards and a touchdown . Quarterback Tre Ford provided 70 yards on the ground with a touchdown run and another 173 yards in the air along with a touchdown pass.
Riders QB Jake Dolegala had three touchdown passes and 213 passing yards.
Saskatchewan got an early edge with excellent starting field position after a 39-yard punt return from Mario Alford. The Roughriders gathered a couple of first downs before they stalled inside the 20-yard line. Brett Lauther opened the scoring with a 26-yard field goal.
Both teams would trade turnovers later in the quarter. Dolegala threw his first interception in 110 attempts on a deep pass to Samuel Emilus. The Roughrider receiver couldn’t haul it in as the ball deflected into the grasp of Elks DB Marcus Lewis for the interception.
Three plays later, Edmonton would give the ball back to Saskatchewan. A screen pass intended for Brown deflected off his fingers and into the waiting hands of Riders DB C.J. Reavis.
Saskatchewan would capitalize off the turnover as Dolegala found Shawn Bane Jr. for a 13-yard touchdown pass to give the green and white a double-digit lead.
The Elks answered back with some trickery. With the ball at the 10-yard line, Edmonton faked a short yardage run as QB Taylor Cornelius found former Rider DE A.C. Leonard in the end zone for the touchdown.
The green and white would respond with points on their next possession as Dolegala led his squad down the field. Lauther would double the Roughrider advantage to six with a 30-yard field goal.
Edmonton narrowed their deficit back to three points after Dean Faithfull connected for a 10-yard field goal.
Lauther attempted to regain the Roughriders six-point advantage at the end of the half but his 56-yard field goal attempt fell short.
Edmonton tied the game in the early stages of the third quarter. After Saskatchewan went two and out in their first possession, the Elks moved the ball 28-yards in one play. Brown picked up 13-yards on the ground with Riders LB Larry Dean flagged for a horse collar tackle. Faithfull tied the game with a 30-yard field goal.
Dolegala provided a quick response for Saskatchewan with a 70-yard drive in a 2:41 span that was finished off by a 26-yard touchdown reception from Tevin Jones.
Edmonton tied the game in the early stages of the third quarter. After Saskatchewan went two and out in their first possession, the Elks gained 28 yards in one play. Brown picked up 13 yards on the ground with Riders LB Larry Dean flagged for a horse collar tackle. Faithfull tied the game with a 30-yard field goal.
The Roughriders provided a quick response after a 70-yard drive in a 2:41 span capped off by a 26-yard touchdown reception from Tevin Jones.
Brown tied the game back for the Elks less than four minutes later thanks to a 35-yard touchdown run.
The back-and-forth battle shifted back in Saskatchewan’s favour after the green and white offence reached their bag of tricks. Like the Elks, the Roughriders executed a short yardage with QB Antonio Pipkin connecting on his first pass as a Roughriders for a 57-yard strike to Morrow. Two plays later, Dolegala found Bane Jr. for the second time for a touchdown, with the Roughriders regaining the lead.
Edmonton tied the game on their next series after Ford eluded a tackle from Lake Korte-Moore and scampered before finding Eugene Lewis wide-open in the end zone.
The Ford and Lewis connection would strike again when the Elks QB found his receiver down the sideline for a 38-yard gain. Ford gave the Elks the lead with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Saskatchewan’s last attempt to tie the game began at their five-yard line. Before the Roughriders could advance the ball, Dolegala was sacked in the end zone by Sam Acheampong for the safety to secure the win.
Edmonton outrushed Saskatchewan by a total of 265-61.
Bane Jr. had six receptions for 47 yards along with his two touchdowns. Tevin Jones had four catches for 72 yards with a touchdown.
Derrick Moncrief and Larry Dean each had seven tackles to lead the Roughriders.
Saskatchewan was hit hard with injuries during the second half as the green and white lost defensive linemen Anthony Lanier II, Miles Brown, Nic Dheilly and linebacker Justin Herdman-Reed to injuries.
Head coach Craig Dickenson felt the defence couldn’t contain the Edmonton running game on Friday night.
“Defensively we’ve got to get off the field,” said Dickenson, “there’s times where we’ve got to set a new boundary on a perimeter play and we didn’t do it and that’s why those seven, eight yard plays became big plays.”
Dickenson also complimented the surging Elks team who has now won four out of their last five games.
“They’ve done a nice job of getting better slowly each week, they haven’t listened to the noise from the outside and they kept working, I’m going to give Chris Jones and that organization credit for that win.”
The Riders head coach said the Roughriders received a tough lesson on Friday night on exactly how fast of a player Tre Ford is for Edmonton.
“He’s faster than what everybody thinks, he gets out there and he can really move, and our guys learned the hard way. ”
Reavis said the Saskatchewan defence has to find a way to keep Ford in the pocket.
“He’s a runner, he’s a real athletic guy,” said the Roughriders defensive back, “you just got to have gap integrity defence and everybody’s got to do their jobs.”
Bane Jr. felt there were some things the Roughriders offence can build off from the game despite the loss.
“We can make plays, we can go the length of the field, obviously Jake (Dolegala) is seeing the defence pretty well, so there are plenty of good things we can take on to the next week.”
The Roughriders will now head on the road for their next two games. First they meet the Ottawa REDBLACKS (3-9) next Friday before heading to the West Coast for a matchup against the BC Lions (8-4).