Saskatchewan Roughriders edge Eskimos to strengthen hold on first place in West

EDMONTON — Brett Lauther kicked a 43-yard field goal in the final seconds to give the Saskatchewan Roughriders a 27-24 road win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday night. The Riders are now 12-5 with a chance to host the Western Final if they beat Edmonton again in their regular season finale next week.

A pair of one-yard touchdown runs from Calvin McCarty helped give Edmonton a 17-7 lead entering the second half, but Cody Fajardo stepped up with two touchdown passes in the third quarter to give the Riders their first lead of the night. Edmonton tied the game late with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Harris to Tevaun Smith, but Fajardo led the Riders into field goal range on an impressive game-winning drive.

Fajardo finished the game with 429 passing yards while completing 25 of 35 throws. Fajardo also took the league lead in passing yards, surpassing McLeod Bethel-Thompson with 4,302 yards on the season.

Kyran Moore racked up a career-high 159 receiving yards on 10 catches, and Shaq Evans led all receivers with 174 receiving yards.

Nick Marshall and L. J. McCray both notched interceptions for the Riders.

Greg Ellingson caught seven of eight targets for 76 yards, and he surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth straight season.

 

The Esks appeared to be on their way to points on their opening drive after Ricky Collins broke free for a 65-yard catch-and-run, but defensive back Marshall shut down the promising drive by picking off Harris in the end zone.

But defensive end Jovan Santos-Knox sacked Fajardo to force a Saskatchewan punt five plays later, and a costly pass interference call against Ed Gainey placed the ball at the one-yard line. McCarty capitalized with a one-yard touchdown run, and Sean Whyte kicked the extra point to make it a seven-point lead.

Another big defensive play from Edmonton led to more points near the end of the opening quarter. Fajardo dropped back to pass deep in his own end, but defensive lineman Mike Moore broke through to bring him down for a strip sack. Moore ripped the ball out of Fajardo’s grasp and recovered the fumble himself, leading to a McCarty’s second one-yard rushing score of the half. Whyte kicked the extra point to extend Edmonton’s lead to 14 points.

Saskatchewan created a spark of momentum in the second quarter when Fajardo completed a 45-yard pass to Shaq Evans, but Edmonton tightened things up on defence and prevented the Riders from moving the chains further and entering field goal range.

But Evans came up with another big play near the end of the quarter with a 47-yard reception. Evans’ catch set up a three-yard touchdown run from Marcus Thigpen on the next play, and Lauther kicked the extra point to cut Edmonton’s lead back down to seven points.

Whyte added a 23-yard field goal just before half-time to put Edmonton up 17-7. Harris finished the first half with 209 passing yards.

Fajardo engineered a solid drive midway through the third quarter that began with a 28-yard completion to Moore. Edmonton appeared to come up with a crucial turnover on the next play when Fajardo was intercepted, but the play was overturned due to defensive pass interference. Fajardo finished things off by throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Moore two plays later, and Lauther added the extra point to cut Edmonton’s lead down to three points.

Saskatchewan generated more momentum on the next drive when McCray intercepted Harris two plays into the drive. The pick led to another big Riders drive, as a pair of 18-yard runs from William Powell was followed by a 22-yard catch-and-run from Evans. Fajardo capped the drive off and gave the Riders their first lead of the night with a five-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Arceneaux. Lauther’s extra point put Saskatchewan up 21-17.

Lauther kicked a 30-yard field goal with just over three minutes remaining to extend Saskatchewan’s lead to seven points, but Edmonton came back to tie the game at 24 points apiece with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Tevaun Smith.

But Fajardo and the Riders’ offence drove 69 yards down the field in under two minutes to set up a game-winning 43-yard field goal from Lauther. Fajardo completed five of seven passes on the drive, including a 19-yard pass to Moore that put the team in field goal range.

Both teams will square off again next week, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders hosting the Edmonton Eskimos next Saturday at 4:00 p.m. (EDT) in their regular season finale.

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