Roughriders to host Western Semifinal with win over Edmonton Elks

REGINA — With their win over the Edmonton Elks on Saturday night, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will host the Western Semi-Final on November 28.

It was a close game in the second of a home-and-home set between these two teams but it was the Riders who gave their fans at Mosaic Stadium something to cheer about with the 29-24 victory.

Receiver Duke Williams had his first big game in a Roughriders jersey, hauling in 146 yards and a touchdown. Fullback Alexandre Dupuis scored his first CFL touchdown while quarterback Cody Fajardo threw for 245 yards, three touchdown passes and an interception in the win.

Defensive back Jay Dearborn sealed the deal with his fourth-quarter interception with 30 seconds left on the clock.

For the Elks, running back Walter Fletcher tallied 136 all-purpose yards in the loss while quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw three touchdown passes, including two to receiver Jalen Tolliver, to go along with 224 yards and an interception.

» Through the Lens: Elks at Riders
» Boxscore: Elks, Riders by the numbers
» Watch: Morrow’s 82-yard return sets up Saskatchewan touchdown
» Fajardo on Duke Williams: ‘He’s built different’

Photo: Matt Smith,

Fajardo and the Riders offence hit the field first, with William Powell scampering for 14 yards to open the contest for an initial first down. But the home team wasn’t able to get another first down and had to punt the ball away. However, a 10-yard too many men penalty called on the Elks special teams unit brought Fajardo and co. back onto the turf, giving them a fresh set of downs.

Edmonton’s defence held strong however, with Kwaku Boateng hauling down Fajardo for the sack, bringing Cornelius and the Elks offence on the field for their first possession of the afternoon.

After Edmonton was forced to punt, Riders returner Jamal Morrow fumbled on the return and the Elks offence was back in action. Cornelius cashed in on the turnover by tossing a 24-yard strike to Jalen Tolliver in the middle of the end zone for the game’s opening score. With the completed point-after, the Elks took an early 7-0 lead.

Morrow made up for his mistake the next time he touched the football, returning the ensuing kickoff 82 yards. Along with a horse collar tackle penalty called on Tolliver, the Riders started their next drive in excellent field position on Edmonton’s eight yard line.

Saskatchewan only needed two plays to get their first score of the game, as Kian Schaffer-Baker continued his excellent rookie campaign by hauling in a six-yard major score following a two-yard run by Powell. With Brett Lauther’s point after, things were tied at 7 with just over six minutes left in the first frame.

As the opening 15 minutes was coming to a close, Fajardo aired it out to Duke Williams twice for a 48-yard pickup followed by one for nine yards, moving the team into scoring position. Fajardo looked to Williams once again to finish off the drive, throwing a 14-yard touchdown strike for the receiver’s first as a Roughrider. With the completed convert, Saskatchewan took their first lead of the game (14-7).

Edmonton conceded a safety following a two-and-out to extend the Riders lead to 16-7 and then the Riders tacked on a single on their next possession following their own two-and-out to increase their lead to 17-7.

As the first half was coming to a close, the Elks leaned on their running back Walter Fletcher on all seven plays of their drive that capped off with six points. The running back ran and caught the ball out of the backfield helping to move Edmonton down the field to set up Cornelius’ pass to Tanner Green for the five-yard touchdown. Along with the point-after, the Elks cut Saskatchewan’s lead to 17-14. That was the final score of the first 30 minutes of the game.

After the teams exchanged possessions without any scores for the first half of the third quarter, the Roughriders added three more points to their lead with six minutes left on the clock. Lauther connected on a a 22-yard field goal to extend his team’s lead to 20-14.

Edmonton cashed in on a turnover after Nafees Lyon picked off Fajardo in the late stages of the third quarter. That interception led to Tolliver scoring his second touchdown of the contest, capping off a drive that featured a 30-yard catch-and-run from Tolliver as well. With the completed convert, the Elks took a one-point lead with under a minute left in the third frame (21-20).

The Riders responded with a touchdown of their own, as Alexandre Dupuis scored the first touchdown of his CFL career. Saskatchewan attempted to go for the two-point convert but was unsuccessful. The touchdown score put the home team in front 26-21 with just under six minutes left in the game.

Just when the Elks looked to be in good position to score, thanks to a 15-yard gain from Fletcher and a 30-yard pick up by Shai Ross that put them inside the Riders 30-yard line, A.C. Leonard sacked Cornelius and forced Edmonton to kick a field goal. The score cut Saskatchewan’s lead to 26-24 at the three minute warning.

With 37 seconds left on the clock, Lauther connected on his 27-yard field goal attempt to increase the Riders lead to 29-24.

Jay Dearborn sealed the deal for the Riders, picking off Cornelius in the dying seconds of the game for the victory.

Next up for the Elks is a matchup in Toronto against the Argonauts on Tuesday night while the Roughriders visit Hamilton to take on the Tiger-Cats on Saturday.

Today's CFL is more than just our great game of football. It's fans sharing their excitement for what they see on the field, and what they experience off it. Stay up to date on all the non-stop action at