The Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Montreal Alouettes game on Saturday wasn’t pretty. It entailed more sloppy plays than a peewee football game. But in the end, a win is a win. And a late Chris Milo field goal lifted the Riders to a 24-21 victory.
Milo will always remember his 36-yard field goal on the last play of the contest because it was his first game-winning kick.
“In 12 years of football, that’s the first one I’ve ever had,” Milo said to Mitchell Blair of Riderville.com. “I won’t lie to you, my heart was pounding but I just had to stay calm and collected and believe in my swing. I was happy to put it through.”
The game shouldn’t have even come down to the last minute of the play. The then 5-1 Riders were taking on a battered and bruised Alouettes squad that lost their star quarterback, Anthony Calvillo, in the first quarter because of a suspected concussion. It should have been a whitewash if the Riders truly are a contender. But with Darian Durant, who went 18-for-32 for 250 yards, playing arguably the worst game of his CFL career and a handful of questionable turnovers, Montreal stayed in the entire game and for the most part held the lead.
“Teams are going to have games like this throughout the course of a year. At the end of the day, the win isn’t just on the scoreboard, but it’s in the dressing room,” head coach Corey Chamblin told Blair. “It shows that we had faith in one another and we did all the way to the end, even though our play wavered throughout the game.”
Two crucial offensive plays are ultimately what led Saskatchewan over Montreal. It all started with a 66-yard Durant touchdown pass to Taj Smith that tied the game up at 21. After the Riders’ defence stopped the Allouettes, Weston Dressler returned the punt for 38 yards to Montreal’s 38-yard line where Milo kicked the game winner.
“It didn’t happen the way we planned it but we kept fighting, [Durant] trusted me and I made a play when it came to me,” said Smith.
Montreal’s loss of the game hurt, putting them three wins behind 500 with a 2-5 record, but their loss of Calvillo is potentially a much bigger blow. At this time, it’s unclear how much or if anytime Calvillo will miss, but since it’s a concussion, one assumes this could be a long-term loss.
“I’ve got a headache, I felt it right when I got hit and from there it hasn’t gone away so they just kept me away from the game,” said Calvillo.
In replace of Calvillo, Josh Neiswander appeared as most rookies do – looking disharmonious and rushing some plays. He completed 12 of 30 passes for 147 yards and two interceptions.
Saskatchewan also lost a key player in the game – receiver Rob Bagg fell to injury just before halftime. Bagg, who had season-ending surgery last year to repair a torn ACL, left the game holding his left knee.
Geroy Simon caught the 1000 pass of his CFL career. He finished the game with two passes for 14 yards.
Kory Sheets came short of 100 yards for the first time on the season, tallying 74 yards on 19 carries.
The 6-1 Riders now sit on top of the East Division. Their next test comes on the road against the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday.