REGINA — Defense was the order of the day in Regina on Sunday as the visiting Calgary Stampeders edged the Saskatchewan Roughriders 15-9.
The Stamps clinched a playoff spot with the win — their ninth in a row — despite not finding the end zone on Sunday. Kicker Rene Paredes went 5-for-5 on field-goal duty to produce all 15 of the visitors’ points.
D-end Ja’Gared Davis had a monster day on the defensive line for the Stamps, registering three sacks including one which forced a win-securing fumble late in the fourth quarter.
Veteran Charleston Hughes also had a pair of sacks in the heated affair, while running back Jerome Messam racked up 127 yards in the win for the CFL’s first-place team.
The Stamps set the tone early on defense with a crunching, dual-effort sack from Micah Johnson and Ja’Gared Davis on Riders quarterback Kevin Glenn.
Calgary kicker Rene Paredes then gave the visitors a first-quarter lead with a 38-yard field goal.
The Riders appeared to gain momentum later in the quarter, when Ed Gainey fell on a Samuel Eguavoen-forced fumble; Saskatchewan’s offense then sputtered and turned the ball over on downs just inside the Calgary half.
Tempers flared early in the second quarter after an exchange of words between Calgary’s Micah Johnson and Saskatchewan’s Derek Dennis; the two former teammates verbally jousted and the Calgary defense was flagged twice in three plays.
The Riders lost star receiver Naaman Roosevelt early in the second quarter on a devastating hit by Calgary’s Tunde Adeleke; Roosevelt was eventually helped off under his own power, with Adeleke drawing a flag on the play.
Later on the drive, Glenn was picked off on a deep ball by Jamar Wall; in keeping with the theme of the first half, Calgary was unable to move the chains and forced to punt.
Neither offense was able to generate much of anything in the first half, and the Stamps took a 6-2 lead into the break.
Calgary’s defense picked up where it left off on the opening possession of the second half, as Davis broke through the Riders O-line and annihilated Glenn for a stadium-quieting sack.
Two more Paredes field goals in the third quarter from 17 and 39 yards out respectively stretched the visitors’ lead to 12-2.
Saskatchewan’s offense appeared to finally hit its stride late in the third quarter, when Glenn connected with Kienan Lafrance for a 34-yard reception that took the Riders well into Calgary territory for the first time. However, the big play was brought back on a Caleb Holley offside penalty.
Through three quarters, Saskatchewan had just 120 net yards.
Paredes extended the Stamps lead to 15-2 midway through the fourth quarter via a 30-yard field goal.
With Kevin Glenn sidelined due to a hand injury, Canadian Brandon Bridge moved under center for the Riders and promptly marched them down the field. Bridge found Bakari Grant, Holley and Rob Bagg — the latter for a spectacular one-handed grab — before tossing a picture-perfect touchdown pass to Devon Bailey. Following a Tyler Crapigna convert, Saskatchewan trailed 15-9.
Bridge and co. got the ball back with three minutes remaining. After a key third-down completion to Duron Carter and a pass-interference penalty against the Stamps led the Riders to the Calgary 36-yard line, Bridge was rocked for a sack on a pivotal third down by Davis — solidifying the win for the Stamps.
Saskatchewan linebacker Henoc Muamba recorded a game-high nine tackles, while defensive back Crezdon Butler made a career-high seven tackles in the loss for the Riders.
Both teams now face a short week with Friday Night Football matchups looming.
Saskatchewan (6-6) will look to bounce back in the nation’s capital, where they will face the Ottawa REDBLACKS (5-8-1) .
With their winning streak now at nine games, the first-place Stamps (11-1-1) will return home for the second game of Week 15’s Friday-night doubleheader against the Montreal Alouettes (3-10).