Saskatchewan Roughriders defeat Montreal Alouettes 17-10 in storm-shortened game versus Montreal Alouettes
MONTREAL — The Saskatchewan and Montreal Alouettes weren’t able to weather the storm on Friday.
The CFL game at Percival Memorial Stadium was stopped with 2:41 left in the third quarter due to severe weather with the Riders holding a 17-10 lead. Officially the game was called due to lightning in the area and the Riders were awarded the win because they were leading 17-10 when the game was called.
It’s the first time in CFL history that a game has been called due to a storm.
“A win is a win, but we wanted to play 60 minutes,” said Riders head coach Craig Dickenson. “A rule is a rule, but if they feel they have to cancel the game, that’s fine. Our guys are celebrating right now, but we really felt like we wanted to get out there and play another quarter.”
Due to weather protocols installed by the CFL during the spring and in consultation with the CFL Players’ Association, the Riders were declared the winners because Friday’s game was delayed more than 60 minutes by weather.
According to the CFL, a game is considered official after the midway point of the third quarter if the delay lasts more than 60 minutes. Two points were awarded to the Riders because they were leading at the time of the stoppage. Friday’s game was stopped at 7:06 p.m., Eastern time. Saskatchewan time and was called at 8:06 p.m.
“I’ve been in a lot of lightning delays in this league, but never in a cancelled game,” said Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo. “We’ll take it any way that we can get it.”
It’s the second time this season that a Riders game has been delayed by severe weather. Saskatchewan’s regular-season home opener on July 1 was delayed for two hours three minutes before it resumed. That delay between the Riders and Toronto Argonauts was allowed to proceed beyond the 60-minute rule because the delay took place in the second quarter and wasn’t an official game yet.
The Riders held a 25-10 lead over the Argonauts when the game was stopped. The Riders eventually defeated the Argonauts 32-7 after the game resumed.
Mother Nature may have stopped the game, but it was a pair of first-half defensive touchdowns that carried the Roughriders to the win over the Alouettes.
Defensive ends Earl Okine and Charleston Hughes each returned fumbles for touchdowns. The majors were the first touchdowns scored by the defence this season. The Riders tied a CFL record in 2018 with 11 returns for touchdowns by the defence.
“We don’t win that game if it wasn’t for our defence,” Fajardo said. “Two touchdowns and the way they were playing all night, they just kept our offence having a lot of momentum and giving us a lot of energy still.
“When things weren’t going right, we knew that we could count on the defence. That’s what good teams do. When one side of the ball isn’t doing well, the other team picks them up.”
The scoop and scores were both set up by the Riders’ aggressive defence. Linebacker Derrick Moncrief was untouched and slammed into Montreal quarterback Antonio Pipkin and Okine returned the fumble 55 yards for a touchdown at 8:45 of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, linebacker Cameron Judge forced another fumble while hammering Montreal’s Matthew Shiltz (who had replaced an ineffective Pipkin). Charleston Hughes scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 45 yards for a touchdown. The Riders led 16-10 at 8:21 of the second quarter after Gabe Ferraro missed the convert.
“We always want to take the ball away,” Judge said. “We haven’t been taking it away as well as we think we’re capable of. Every week that’s our emphasis, take the ball away and win games. I was pretty happy when we were able to do that.”
The Riders found themselves in a hole early after Shakeir Ryan returned a Jon Ryan punt 101 yards for a touchdown at the 2:20 of the first quarter.
The Riders’ special teams have allowed four returns for touchdowns this season — two punt returns, a missed field-goal return and Friday’s punt return by Ryan.
“We’re not sprinting to the football,” said Dickenson, who doubles as the Riders’ special-teams co-ordinator. “We’ll juggle that group a little bit and maybe it’s a change of personnel. We certainly have to do a better job of covering punts. That sort of stuff loses you games and we don’t want to have that.”
The Riders have now won four straight and carry a 5-3 record into their second of three bye weeks. The Alouettes fell to 3-4.
“We’re a little banged up and God was looking out for me because I got dinged up in that game for sure,” said Fajardo, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 166 yards and had six carries for 48 yards. “(God) threw me a bone there going into the bye week with me being able to take some time off from football, see my wife and it will be a lot of fun just to get away from it.”