Riders take advantage of early mistakes to surge to 40-18 victory over RedBlacks
Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt (82) celebrates a touchdown during second half CFL action against the Ottawa Redblacks, in Regina, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith
The Roughriders capitalized on three early turnovers from the RedBlacks on Saturday night, easily topping Ottawa 40-18 for their fifth straight win.
The Rider defence controlled the game having a productive night with five total turnovers, including picking off Ottawa quarterback Dominique Davis three times in the first quarter. Davis was relieved of his duties for fellow pivot Jonathon Jennings near the end of the first quarter.
Charleston Hughes and Loucheiz Purifoy both forced and recovered fumbles in the second half, stripping Jennings to add to Saskatchewan’s turnover totals. Head Coach Craig Dickenson said the defence was going into the game with a chip on their shoulders after giving up 44 points in a week two loss to Ottawa.
“We preach turnovers, we’ve been preaching that since the second week we played them,” said Purifoy. “We know we’re a way better team than week two.”
But the narrative that persisted throughout the night was the constant barrage of flags on the field, with 16 total penalties on the night for the Riders pushing them back 186 yards.
Some unnecessary roughness calls along with defensive back L.J. McCray being thrown out for throwing a punch in a scrum following the team’s third interception, moved Saskatchewan backwards throughout the game, and negated some big gains.
Although they dominated the game from the get go, the Riders lacked discipline on Saturday night, which head coach Craig Dickenson said needs to be cleaned up moving forward.
‘I think it kept Ottawa in it, I really do. And they were deserved, I mean we deserved every darn one of them,” said Dickenson. “All you can do is point it out and try and make corrections from here.”
Quarterback Cody Fajardo was able to keep his night mistake free, avoiding throwing an interception, and finishing with 241 yards through the air, and two total touchdowns.
He once again showcased his prowess on the ground, keeping an option play and blazing into the end zone to take advantage on the RedBlacks’ second turnover of the night.
The RedBlacks were able to draw within 10 points in the third quarter, but Fajardo iced the game on the next drive, evading a would-be sack and slinging a perfect throw to Naaman Roosevelt just inside the front cone for a touchdown.
“They brought all out pressure, I happened to see the guy I was able to scramble away and [Roosevelt] did a great job of working back for me on the scramble drill and I know that was a big weight off his shoulders just getting back in the end zone,” said Fajardo.
With the win Saskatchewan move to 6-3, and becomes the sole holder of second place in the West.
Saskatchewan is heading into a West division heavy slate of games over the next few weeks.
“Second half is going to be tougher for sure,” said Dickenson. “Our guys know that, we talked about it, we’re going to have to play better.
Saskatchewan is back home next Sunday for the Labour Day classic facing off against the first place Winnipeg Blue Bombers.