CFL: Saskatchewan Roughriders stage remarkable late rally to edge Ottawa REDBLACKS

OTTAWA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders completed a remarkable fourth quarter comeback to hand the Ottawa REDBLACKS a 18-17 defeat at TD Place Stadium on Friday. Ottawa controlled momentum for most of the game and shut out the Riders in the first half, but quarterback Kevin Glenn turned things around and found success in the fourth quarter to claim his 100th career win.

Running back William Powell led the way for Ottawa with 187 yards on the ground, setting a REDBLACKS franchise record for most rushing yards in a single game.

REDBLACKS quarterback Ryan Lindley showed improved poise in his second career start, but the Riders’ defense came on strong in the end and defensive back Jovon Johnson sealed the game with an interception in the final minute.

Both defensive units came out strong in the first quarter. Roughriders quarterback Kevin Glenn attempted to find receiver Duron Carter in the end zone on the team’s opening drive, but REDBLACKS defensive back Jonathan Rose made a beautiful play on the ball and reeled in his first interception of the season.

With Lindley making just his second CFL start, the REDBLACKS leaned on the legs of Powell for most of the game. The quick and powerful runner got the ball moving for Ottawa on their second drive, putting together back-to-back first down runs of 32 and 16 yards. Powell also caught a key pass on the drive that set up a short Lindley first down run.

Roughriders QB Kevin Glenn posted 100th win Photo: The Canadian Press

The REDBLACKS got on the scoreboard first as a result, with kicker Brett Maher knocking through a 22-yard field goal to give Ottawa the early 3-0 lead. Powell amassed 111 rushing yards in the first half alone.

Roughriders receiver Bakari Grant appeared to fumble on Saskatchewan’s next drive, with Ottawa recovering. But the play was not ruled a fumble, and REDBLACKS head coach Rick Campbell unsuccessfully challenged the ruling that Grant’s forward progress had been stopped.

Lindley began to find a rhythm in the second quarter, and his first big completion of the game came when he connected with receiver Brad Sinopoli for 26 yards. The REDBLACKS quarterback then found receiver Diontae Spencer for a 13-yard first down, and Sinopoli again for a crucial second down conversion.

Lindley capped off the successful second quarter drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to receiver Greg Ellingson near the back left corner of the end zone. Lindley showed impressive touch on the scoring strike, placing the ball directly over defensive back Ed Gainey to give Ellingson his eighth touchdown catch of the season. Powell added the two-point convert on the ground to give Ottawa the 11-0 lead.

After quickly getting the ball back on defense, the REDBLACKS’ offense picked up right where they left off. Powell continued to make brilliant cut backs while consistently gaining big chunks of yardage to keep Ottawa’s offense moving down the field. The Riders’ defense stood strong, however, and were able to prevent Lindley from leading another touchdown drive before the half.

The REDBLACKS’ offense continued to look impressive on their first drive of the third quarter, with Lindley and Powell leading a balanced attack that gave the Riders’ defense issues. Powell seemed to find open field every time he carried the ball, dragging tacklers for extra yards and moving the chains.

Lindley finished the nine-play, 65-yard drive with a short rushing touchdown after Powell took the ball all the way to the goal line, giving Ottawa a 17-0 lead.

Ottawa QB Ryan Lindley escaping clutches of Saskatchewan defense Photo: The Canadian Press

The Riders found a major spark near the end of the third quarter when Christion Jones returned a punt up the middle for an incredible 97-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 17-7.

Saskatchewan built on the momentum from the return touchdown when defensive back Jovon Johnson recovered a fumble from REDBLACKS receiver Juron Criner on the next series. The Riders’ offense made the most of the turnover, with Glenn hooking up with Duron Carter for big gains of 21 and 43 yards.

Glenn threw the ball up high in order to give Carter a chance at the jump ball, and Carter beat his man and reeled both passes in using his elite size and athleticism. Running back Kienan LaFrance capped off the pivotal drive with a six-yard rushing touchdown, bringing the score to 17-14 with under 10 minutes remaining.

Glenn and the Riders continued to find success moving the ball after that, and Saskatchewan tied the game on a 16-yard Tyler Crapigna field goal. The veteran quarterback led a comeback drive in the final minutes, and the Riders took their first lead of the game when they recorded a single after a 55-yard Josh Bartel punt.

The Riders’ defense forced multiple two-and-outs in the game’s final minutes, and Jovon Johnson made another critical play when he picked off a Lindley pass with seconds remaining to secure the victory for Saskatchewan.

Week 16 will see the Saskatchewan Roughriders travel to Toronto to face the Argonauts on Saturday, while the Ottawa REDBLACKS square off against the BC Lions.

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