The Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-8) lead vanished in a matter seconds late in the first half, with the Ottawa REDBLACKS (4-10) storming back to defeat the Roughriders 36-28 on Friday night.
Two turnovers late in the half led to 11 points by Ottawa to end the first half.
Ottawa QB Dustin Crum was 21 for 27 for 243 passing yards with a pair of touchdown passes with 53 yards on the ground with a touchdown.
RB Devonte Williams had 136 rushing yards.
Roughriders QB Jake Dolegala was 24 for 35 for 279 passing yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Saskatchewan RB Frankie Hickson had 77 rushing yards.
The Roughriders ended up with 11 penalties for 123 penalty yards with five turnovers.
Saskatchewan opened up the scoring on their second possession of the game, marching the ball down the field 74 yards, with Dolegala completing six straight passes, including an 11-yard touchdown reception by Kian Schaffer-Baker.
Ottawa replied with a touchdown drive, aided by three penalties from the Roughriders defence. Safety Derrick Moncrief took a pair of infractions that gave the REDBLACKS an additional 30 yards. DB Jeremy Clark received an illegal contact penalty inside the Saskatchewan end zone. Tyrell Pigrome scored on a quarterback sneak to tie the game.
Samuel Emilus put Saskatchewan back in the lead with his first catch of the game. Blown coverage allowed the Canadian receiver to be wide open for an easy 54-yard touchdown catch.
Defensive End Christian Albright made an immediate impact in his first game from the practice roster with a pair of sacks on back-to-back plays that ended an Ottawa possession.
Saskatchewan was poised to head into the locker room at halftime with a 13-8, but the green and white advantage came crashing down in a 35-second span. Ottawa began their rally when Deandre Lemont intercepted Dolegala’s pass intended for Emilus.
Crum connected with Bralon Addison on the next play for a touchdown. A two-point conversion was good, giving the REDBLACKS for there.
Unfortunately for the Roughriders, the turnovers did not end there. On the next play, Dolegala had the ball knocked out of his grasp by the 2022 CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Lorenzo Mauldin IV.
The REDBLACKS recovered the fumble. With five seconds remaining in the half, Michael Domagala kicked a 42-yard field goal to extend their lead to 19-13.
Adam Korsak opened the scoring in the third quarter with a rouge.
Domagala extended the Ottawa advantage with a 32-yard field goal.
In the fourth quarter, another turnover would cost the Roughriders. Bryce Carter knocked the ball loose, and Cleyon Laing recovered the fumble for the REDBLACKS.
A couple of plays later, Crum connected with Siaosi Mariner for a 32-yard touchdown.
The Roughriders poor fortunate continued when a pass intended for Tevin Jones was deflected into the air and deflected to the waiting hands of Brandin Danbridge for the interception.
Crum would add salt to the Saskatchewan wounds with a 35-yard touchdown run.
Mario Alford tried to ignite a Saskatchewan comeback with a 107-yard punt return for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good.
The Roughriders would recover the onside kick after Ottawa touched the kick.
Antonio Pipkin plunged into the end zone for the touchdown. Dolegala and Emilus connected for the two-point conversion, with Saskatchewan trailing by eight.
But lightning wouldn’t strike twice for the Roughriders as Ottawa recovered the onside kick, ending any chance of a late Saskatchewan rally.
Head Coach Craig Dickenson was disappointed with the loss.
“We got to play better football across the board, we got to block, we got to tackle, we got to have better energy in the second half. “
Dickenson said the Roughriders wore down during the game and couldn’t recover.
He told 620 CKRM’s Luc Mullinder what message was delivered to the team.
“Look in the mirror, do more, come out ready to play.”
Defensively, the Riders head coach wasn’t pleased with the green and white tackling.
“We’re not just hitting guys thick, we’re hitting them from the side, we’re not running our feet.”
Even with a limited window to work on tackling at practice, Dickenson says the coaching staff will need to evaluate this week.
“We’re going to see who’s going to take the coaching, come out and click the pads, when they put them on and we’re going to see who’s going to hit people, because right now we’re not stepping up, we’re not tackling like we should be and teams are taking advantage of it.”
Albright ended up with three defensive tackles and a special teams tackle to go along with his two sacks.
Even though it was tough waiting for his chance to play, the defensive end knew he had to be prepared.
“Trying to stay mentally and physical ready for when the opportunity does come, cause I knew it was going to come, so I had to stay ready for it and when you get the opportunity, you got to seize the opportunity.”
He added the team has to stay together in their latest battle with adversity.
“It’s been a rough past three weeks and we got to get back into the win column, we got to figure out what to do, obviously it’s not working right now.”
Hickson had his most productive game of the season in Ottawa as he made his first start at running back. He noted his mindset has improved in recent weeks and was ready for his chance on Friday night.
“Ultimately in pro sports, you’ll get your chance at some point, it’s about what you do with it.”
Saskatchewan will head to BC next Friday.