Roughriders survive comeback attempt from BC Lions in West Division showdown

SASKATCHEWAN – The Saskatchewan Roughriders knew what it took to close a gap in the West Division standings and win in front of their home crowd – but it wouldn’t be easy.

Avenging their loss to the BC Lions from earlier in the season, the Riders handed the Lions a 34-29 loss, narrowly escaping a Lions comeback, on Sunday night to improve to .500 on the season.

Jake Dolegala led the Riders with 239 passing yards and three touchdowns while Samuel Emilus led the receiving corps with 106 yards on five receptions with a touchdown.

Five different members of the Riders defence recorded a sack in the game, as Larry Dean and C.J. Reavis both recorded at least four tackles and a sack in the win, while Jeremy Clark added three tackles and an interception.

Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 455 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the loss as Alexander Hollins led all Lions receivers with 161 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

To start the game the Riders got to Adams Jr. early, forcing a fumble and getting the ball back, and it took them only three plays and 40 seconds to find the end zone.

Dolegala threw a short pass down the middle to Kian Schaffer-Baker for 15 yards to get the Riders on the board less than three minutes into play.

Adams Jr. would find Hollins for multiple first downs including 28 and 11 yard passes to move the chains, also utilizing Keon Hatcher and Justin McInnis. But the Lions would have to settle for a 14-yard field goal after eight plays and nearly five minutes after they were unable to convert in the red zone.

While the Riders were unsuccessful in their next drive as BC’s defence forced a two-and-out, the Riders defence played their part just as well with an eight-yard sack forcing a punt on third and long to end the quarter.

BC would continue using their clinical passing game to their advantage as Adams Jr. shot a deep pass to Lucky Whitehead for 29 yards, and on the next drive found Hollins on another deep pass for 46 yards for the touchdown to take their first lead of the game.

However the Lions’ glory was short lived as the next drive Dolegala took his fair share of deep passes, first finding Emilus for 26 yards before finding Jerreth Sterns for another 22 yards to set up an easy rush for Jamal Morrow to go eight yards for the touchdown.

Saskatchewan would get the ball back on a turnover at the BC 21 after the kickoff, and Dolegala once again found a long pass to Sterns, this time for 18 yards into the end zone to further extend the lead.

Just as BC finally got the ball back, a slew of penalties for the Lions pushed them back to their own 20 yard line, and an Adams Jr. interception gave Saskatchewan another chance to find the end zone.

Trying to get downfield as quickly as possible, the Riders racked up penalties of their own and could not get deep enough into Lions territory, but still extended their lead on a 53-yard field goal from Brett Lauther.

The Lions moved quick as Adams Jr. used a combination of his legs and his passing game to try and get BC down field before the half, but the Lions would have to settle for a field goal of their own with Sean Whyte making a 42-yard attempt as the clock wound down.

With neither team able to make a splash well into the third quarter, each having to punt twice, the Riders used a combination of Morrow and Dolegala on the ground on top of the passing game to move downfield in three minutes, but the Dolegala to Emilus connection would shine once again as the duo connected for a 37-yard pass to the end zone to extend Saskatchewan’s lead further.

BC would continue to claw as Adams Jr. continued to find Hatcher and Hollins as they moved downfield for nearly five minutes before an 11-yard shot to Hatcher in the end zone brought the Lions back within 11 points of the Riders.

Coming close to completing the comeback, the Lions added to their scoring of 13 unanswered points as Adams Jr. continued to strike in the air finding Whitehead for a 78-yard score to bring BC within five points with five minutes to play.

Forcing a Riders offensive two-and-out, BC found themselves on the Saskatchewan 23-yard line with a fresh set of downs and just over two minutes to play.

But the Riders defence would hold strong and force a field goal from the Lions, yet less than a minute later the Lions’ defence would force a Riders punt would get the ball back once again with just over a minute to play.

Anthony Lanier II would get to Adams Jr. for an eight-yard sack on third down to get Saskatchewan the ball back, but the game would be an affair until the final whistle as Lauther kicked one final field goal with five seconds left on the clock to put the Riders lead back up to five.

The Riders are on a bye week during Week 12 action, while the Lions will host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at BC Place at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Aug. 26.

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