Riders clinch home playoff game for second consecutive year
EDMONTON — The Saskatchewan Roughriders clinched a home playoff game and kept finishing first in the West Division in their sights due to Saturday’s 27-24 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos.
Brett Lauther’s 43-yard walk-off field goal clinched the win for the Riders before 29,228 spectators at Commonwealth Stadium.
Saskatchewan (12-5) is alone in first place in the West Division, followed by the Calgary Stampeders (11-6) and Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-7).
The Riders can finish atop the West Division for the first time since 2009 with a win or a tie over the Eskimos — who visit Mosaic Stadium on Nov. 2 — or a loss by the Stampeders to the B.C. Lions. The latter game is also on Nov. 2.
If the Roughriders and Stampeders finish with the same records, Calgary has the tie-breaker by virtue of having swept the the two-game series with the Riders.
The fourth-place Eskimos (8-9) can’t improve their playoff positioning and are the cross-over team into the East Division semi-final against the host Montreal Alouettes on Nov. 10.
The Riders are in this position thanks to the Blue Bombers defeating the Stampeders 29-28 on Friday on a walk-off, 34-yard field goal by Justin Medlock.
Former Riders quarterback Zach Collaros, who completed 22 of 28 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns for the Blue Bombers, engineered the comeback with a nine-play, 38-yard drive.
Collaros started the year with the Riders, only to be injured three plays into the regular season after absorbing an illegal hit to the hit to the head.
He was later traded to the Toronto Argonauts for a fourth-round conditional draft pick. Toronto then sent him to the Blue Bombers at the trade deadline.
On Saturday, the Eskimos opened the scoring after stuffing the Riders on a third-down gamble on Edmonton’s 47-yard line.
Trevor Harris opened up the drive with a 32-yard pass to Tevaun Smith that moved Edmonton to Saskatchewan’s 29-yard line.
A pass-interference penalty assessed to Ed Gainey set up the Eskimos on the Riders’ one-yard line. Calvin McCarty scored on a one-yard rush and the Eskimos led 7-0 after Sean Whyte’s convert at 10:19 of the first quarter.
The Riders turned the ball over on their next possession after a strip sack by Don Unamba was recovered Edmonton’s Mike Moore on Saskatchewan’s one-yard line McCarty scored on the next play and the Eskimos led 14-0 at 14:53 of the first quarter.
The Riders scored their first touchdown after a 47-yard pass by Cody Fajardo to Shaq Evans moved the Green and White to Edmonton’s three-yard line. Marcus Thigpen scored on a three-yard run that was capped by Brett Lauther’s convert. The Eskimos held a 14-7 lead at 11:13 of the second quarter.
Edmonton grabbed a 17-7 lead over the Riders after Whyte connected on a 23-yard field goal at 14:55 of the second quarter.
The Riders cut into Edmonton’s lead when Kyran Moore hauled in a 25-yard pass from Fajardo in the third quarter. The Riders trailed 17-14 after Lauther’s convert at 7:59 of the third quarter.
Saskatchewan then capitalized on an interception by L.J. McCray on the Riders’ 36-yard line.
Six plays later, Manny Arceneaux scored on a five-yard pass from Fajardo. Lauther’s convert staked the Riders to a 21-17 lead over the Eskimos at 12:23 of the third quarter.
A 30-yard field goal by Lauther at 8:42 of the fourth quarter increased the Riders’ lead 24-17.
Th Eskimos closed to within one point after a 12-yard touchdown reception by Smith. Whyte’s convert tied the contest at 24-24 at 13:12 of the fourth quarter.
Fajardo then moved the Roughriders’ from their six-yard line and into field-goal range, whereupon Lauther settled matters.