Down and Out: Roughriders season ends with 29-26 loss to Argos

Dan Adeboboye’s touchdown with just under two minutes remaining was the difference as the Toronto Argonauts (15-2) defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders(6-12) 29-26 on Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium.

With the loss, Saskatchewan has been eliminated from the Canadian Football League playoffs.

Riders QB Jake Dolegala had 443 yards passing with two touchdowns with two interceptions.

Qb Jake Dolegala Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

Receivers Samuel Emilus and Shawn Bane Jr. became the first Roughriders since 2017 to record over 1,000 yards receiving.

Both players went over 100 yards receiving on the day with Bane Jr. picking up 136 yards on eight receptions and Emilus with seven receptions and 137 yards.

Adeboboye led the Argos with 109 rushing yards.

Damonte Coxie had 105 receiving yards for Toronto.

The Argos had 557 yards on offence while the Roughriders had 449.

Game Recap

It was a fast start offensively for the Roughriders, with points on their opening drive. Schaffer-Baker secured a 38-yard grab after a deflection from Argos DB Royce Metchie on the opening play. The four-play possession ended with a 16-yard touchdown reception by Schaffer-Baker.

After a couple of quick possessions from both teams, the Argos scored for the first time. Davaris Daniels had a pair of receptions for 51 yards, setting up a three-yard touchdown run by Ouellette.

Saskatchewan regained the lead on the next drive with a 30-yard field goal from Brett Lauther.

It was an explosive end to the first quarter for the Roughriders, with Dolegala completing a deep throw to Emilus for a 51-yard reception. With the catch, Emilus passed the 1,000 receiving yards total.

The green and white were unable to capitalize. On the first play of the second quarter, Argos DB Qwan’Tez Stiggers intercepted Dolegala’s pass intended for Bane Jr. in the end zone.

Ouellette became the fourth running back in the CFL to move over the 1,000 rushing yard total in the second quarter. Alfredo Gachuz-Lozada closed the gap to within one score with a 17-yard field goal.

Coxie then put Toronto within one point with a 50-yard touchdown catch. The extra point was no good.

The Argos had a chance to grab the lead at the end of the first half, but Gachuz-Lozada’s field goal attempt was no good.

Saskatchewan entered the locker room at halftime with a slim 17-16 lead.

The first play of the second half was a big one, this time in the Argos favour. Backup running back Dan Adeboboye sprinted through a gaping hole for a 59-yard gain.

Toronto gained their first lead with a 21-yard field goal from Guchaz-Lozada.

It wasn’t long before the Roughriders regained the lead. On their next possession, Saskatchewan moved the ball 67 yards, setting up a touchdown run by Riders QB Antonio Pipkin. The two-point conversion was no good as the green and white led the double blue 23-19.

Another big play finished off the third quarter, making a catch Jerreth Sterns fumbled the ball, recovered by Argos LB Wynton McManis.

Cameron Dukes replaced Kelly as quarterback to begin the fourth quarter. He didn’t move the ball following the turnover, with the Argos settling for a field goal to knock the Roughriders lead to one.

Saskatchewan pushed their advantage back to four with Lauther making a 48-yard field goal.

With just over four minutes left, the Argonauts gambled on third down at the Roughriders 14, but were unable to convert with Saskatchewan’s lead remaining at four.

Toronto got one last chance with 1:57 remaining, with Dukes marched the Argos down the field with Coxie providing a highlight reel catch at Saskatchewan’s five-yard-line. Abedoboye gave the Argos on the next play.

A late rally wasn’t in the cards for the Roughriders. On their next play on offence, Dolegala was intercepted by Argos DB Mason Pierce.

Toronto would punt the ball back to Saskatchewan, but Roughriders ran out of time.

Post-Game Comments

After the game, Dolegala gave credit to Pierce for making a good read on the final interception.

“I knew we had to push the ball a little bit, I knew we had some time on the clock and we needed a field goal but you know I thought the window was there, their half (Pierce) made a really good play.”

The Roughriders quarterback described seven-game losing skid that ended the team’s season as “brutal.”

“We were in there for awhile and it just felt like nothing would go our way.”

Head Coach Craig Dickenson said the Roughriders were lacking the winning edge.

“It just felt like we were that close the whole season and for some reason, you know couldn’t get over the hump.”

Dickenson felt Saturday’s game against the Argonauts was a reflection of their struggles this season.

“Today I thought was similar to a lot of games where we played well for probably 50 minutes, we had spurts here and there we let it get away, turned the ball over a couple of times and gave up a couple of big plays, next thing you know, you’re trailing.”

The Riders head coach felt the effort wasn’t the reason for the team’s downfall in 2023.

“They came to work everyday, with a good attitude, wanting to be there, wanting to do more.”

Dickenson added. “Just didn’t do enough this year, didn’t coach well enough, didn’t play well enough at time, it didn’t turned out like we hoped.”

On Sunday, the coaching staff will hold their exit meetings with the players as the questions for the organization and the 2024 season begins.

His future wasn’t something Dickenson put much thought into during the 2023 campaign.

“We’re focused on the here and now, the end of the year there still plenty of time to figure it out.”

Bane Jr. said the final seven games for the Roughriders were frustrating.

“We’re so talented, it’s hard, you know, to come in day after day and not being able to see the fruit of your labours.”

The receiver was grateful to be able to surpass a 1,000 yards this season and was happy to accomplish the feat on a big play.

Attendance for Saturday’s game was 24,158.

With Saskatchewan’s loss, the Calgary Stampeders (6-11) clinched the final playoff spot in the West and will now face the BC Lions (12-6) in the Western Semi-Final in two weeks.

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