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Roughriders season ends with loss to Argos


Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson says he doesn’t know what the future holds for his coaching career.

The veteran coach described the 2023 season as a failure following the team’s elimination from the playoffs Saturday after a 29-26 loss to the Toronto Argonauts at Mosaic Stadium.

“The people who make the decisions will make those decisions and I respect whatever direction they decide to go,” said Dickenson. “I’ve enjoyed every minute here and I hope to continue to coach here but if that’s not the way they go, I leave here with no regrets.”

Expectations were high for this season after the team made adjustments to their roster including the major acquisition of quarterback Trevor Harris, who they lost to injury, and what they saw as improvements to their offensive line.

“We worked really hard this off-season to get the right guys with the right skills and the right character. I felt like we were really close all season and just couldn’t get over the hump,” Dickenson added.

That certainly rang true on Saturday as the team carried a lead late into the fourth quarter against the league-best Argos, and let it slip away.

Back-up quarterback Cameron Dukes engineered an eight play, 72-yard, game-winning touchdown drive to win it.

“I mean, it’s brutal to be honest. We ran it for a while there and then it felt like nothing could go our way. It was a combination of a lot of things,” offered quarterback Jake Dolegala. “Each game was different but in some aspects it felt the same. Just not good enough football.”

The Riders got off a great start thanks to an opening drive touchdown engineered by quarterback Jake Dolegala.

The Riders pivot connected with Kian Schaffer-Baker to cap off a four play 68-yard drive in just 1:56 to give his side a 7-0 lead.

The Argos answered back a few minutes later. A.J. Ouelette, who surpassed 1,000 yards rushing on the season in the contest, cut left and found a path that led him three yards into the end zone.

A Brett Lauther field goal with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter gave Saskatchewan a 10-7 lead after the opening 15 minutes.

Dolegala came out firing in the second quarter to pad the Riders lead. The Riders quarterback fired a 35-yard pass into the waiting arms of Samuel Emilus in the corner of the end zone for a major to extend the lead to 17-7.

The Argonauts would not go away quietly.

Chad Kelly orchestrated a surgical drive that culminated in a 50-yard touchdown pass to Damonte Coxie. The extra point attempt was wide, so the Riders maintained a 17-16 lead.

Saskatchewan, again extended their lead thanks to an Antonio Pipkin quarterback-sneak to put the Riders out front 23-19.

Argos back-up Cameron Dukes replaced Kelly at the start of the fourth quarter. Kelly finished the afternoon with 18 of 25 completed passes, 275 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Cameron Dukes put together a game winning drive that finished with a Dan Aderoboye touchdown run for five yards.

It capped off an eight play, 72-yard drive and gave the Argos a 29-26 lead.

Dolegala had one last chance to complete the comeback and keep his team’s playoff hopes alive but his pass intended for Bane Jr. was intercepted by Mason Pierce, effectively ending the Riders’ season.

“We couldn’t stop people when we needed to,” said Dickenson.

It’s the first time defensive star Micah Johnson has missed the playoffs in his entire CFL career.

When asked about his playing future, he said he is going to take some time with his family, but didn’t indicate directly whether he planned to return or retire.

“It’s the first time I’ve not made the playoffs in my whole CFL career so I don’t really know what to think or do. It’s tough.”

The Saskatchewan Roughriders finish the 2023 season with a 6-12 record. Top Stories

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