Roughriders complete rare sweep of home-and-home set with Lions
VANCOUVER — The Saskatchewan Roughriders executed a rare sweep of the home-and-home set against the B.C. Lions on Saturday.
The Riders defeated the Lions 45-18 at BC Place, marking the first time since 1974 the Green and White had swept a home-and-home series with the Lions.
The Riders improved their record to 3-3, good for fourth in the West Division, two points behind the second-place Calgary Stampeders (4-2) and Edmonton Eskimos (4-2). The Lions fell to 1-6. The Riders play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Thursday. The Lions are on their bye week.
The Riders earned the win thanks to a strong effort by their offence and defence. Saskatchewan sacked Lions quarterback Mike Reilly four times. Zack Evans, Solomon Elimimian, Makana Henry and Seun Idowu got the Lions’ quarterback., who has been sacked a league-leading 25 times this season.
Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo was effective, completing 21 of 26 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown.
Saskatchewan’s William Powell rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.
The game featured three returns for touchdowns on special teams. Saskatchewan’s Loucheiz Purifoy scored on an 87-yard kickoff return.
B.C.’s Ryan Lankford returned a missed field goal 118 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 75 yards for a major.
Saskatchewan set the tone defensively with blitzes on back-to-back plays to open the first half. Reilly was pressured into an incompletion on a safety blitz by Mike Edem and was sacked by Elimimian on the next play.
The Riders converted the defensive gems into a 48-yard field goal by Gabe Ferraro to grab a 3-0 lead at 4:28 of the first quarter and never looked back.
The Riders went ahead 5-0 at 9:57 of the first quarter after punter Josh Bartel conceded a safety.
Saskatchewan jumped ahead 11-0 when Loucheiz Purifoy returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown. Ferraro’s successful convert gave the Riders a 12-0 lead at 10:12 of the first quarter.
The kickoff return was the second consecutive game the Riders had scored on special teams against the Lions. Marcus Thipgen returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the Riders’ 38-25 win over the visiting Lions on July 21.
The Riders led the Lions 12-0 after the first quarter despite 23 yards of net offence compared to B.C.’s 53 yards.
The Lions responded to the Riders’ touchdown with a 35-yard field goal by Sergio Castillo at 1:24 of the second quarter and trailed 12-3.
Saskatchewan’s offence finally started to roll when Fajardo led it on a seven-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Kyran Moore’s 22-yard touchdown reception. Ferraro’s convert gave the Riders a 19-3 lead at 5:36 of the second quarter.
The Riders went ahead 25-3 after Powell’s 42-yard touchdown run. Ferraro connected on the convert and the Riders led 26-3 at 12:32 of the second quarter.
B.C.’s first touchdown came courtesy of special teams when Lankford returned Ferrero’s 34-yard missed field goal for a 118-yard touchdown. The Lions trailed 26-10 after Castillo’s convert at 14:30 of the second quarter.
A 72-yard single by punter Jon Ryan increased Saskatchewan’s lead to 27-10 ay 3:08 of the third quarter.
Powell added his second touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run. Ferraro’s convert gave the Riders a 34-10 lead at 11:25 of the third quarter.
The Lions responded when Lankford’s 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Lankford faked a reverse before racing untouched to the end zone. Reilly then connected with Bryan Burnham on the two-point convert and the Lions trailed 34-18 at 12:06 of the third quarter.
At 3:17 of fourth quarter, Ferraro connected on a 19-yard field as the Riders grabbed a commanding 37-18 lead.
Powell added his third touchdown on a one-yard run at 11:23 of the fourth quarter. Powell then scored on a two-point convert as the Riders opened up a 46-18 lead.
NOTES: The Riders’ scratch was returner Christion Jones. B.C. scratched offensive lineman David Knevel … Riders centre Dan Clark played in his 100th CFL game on Saturday … Receiver Manny Arceneaux and middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian made their returns to BC Place where they starred with the Lions before signing with the Riders as a free agents during the off-season. Arceneaux played in 64 career games at BC Place through his eight-season career with the Lions. Elimimian dressed 60 home games through nine seasons with the Lions. B.C. recognized the former Lions with a short video tribute prior to the opening kickoff … Riders defensive end Charleston Hughes had sacked Lions quarterback Mike Reilly 18 times prior to Saturday’s contest. Hughes, who didn’t have a sack Saturday, entered the contest with a league-leading eight sacks.