For the first time in a very long time, the Saskatchewan Roughriders looked like a quality football team on Saturday at Mosaic Stadium against the B.C. Lions.
The Riders bounced back following two fumbles on their first two possessions to force seven B.C. turnovers that ultimately led to the 35-14 victory.
“You have to get hot at the right time,’’ Riders defensive end Ricky Foley told the Leader-Post. “We know that we had a bit of a lull during our (four-game) losing streak. Maybe it’s the smell in the air, the cold or with winter setting in, but it feels like playoff football. This team is coming together and it feels great.’’
The win ensures the Riders will host a playoff game on Nov. 10. They still have a shot at finishing first in the Western Conference, but the Riders would have to win both of their remaining games and the Calgary Stampeders would have to lose both of theirs, including next week against Saskatchewan.
It goes without saying that Riders head coach Corey Chamblin was feeling pretty good about his team after the contest.
“It feels pretty good,” the head coach said. “This is my second year and we continue to improve on doing what we want to do here. Having a home playoff game was one of the goals we have had on the board all season and its one we can check off tonight. It’s not the ultimate goal, but it’s a big piece of getting to where we want to be. There’s still a lot to do to play in the Grey Cup, but we have an opportunity to play one game here to get to that game and that’s what we set out to do from day one of camp.”
The loss for the Lions was their third straight and means they can’t finish better than third in the conference.
Fortunately for the Riders, they didn’t have to face Lions starter Travis Lulay. Because of his arm injury, Thomas DeMarco stepped in and couldn’t get the jump done in the sloppy weather conditions. He tossed four interceptions, one apiece to Dwight Anderson, Craig Butler, Carlos Thomas and Tristan Jackson.
The Riders’ Darian Durant, meanwhile, didn’t even complete half of his passes, going 13 for 29 for 187 yards, but it didn’t essentially matter. His one touchdown to Weston Dressler combined with Kory Sheets’ 148 yards on ground was enough to outduel B.C.
Sheets has 1,556 yards on the year. He sits 134 yards behind Stampeders running back Jon Cornish for the league lead in yards on the ground.
Nearly all of the Riders’ points came in the first half. They captured 31 points in the first two quarters with their remaining four coming in the last frame.
The Riders head to Calgary next Saturday to take on the Stampeders at 7 p.m. Chamblin feels his team is willing to put in the work to capture their third straight victory.
“The guys are ready to put some overtime in,” said the head coach. “They are already in there talking about Calgary so I know they will be ready to go when we start getting ready for them. It will be a big game, it will be like a playoff game and I’m already excited for it.”