Saskatchewan Roughriders hold on for close road win over BC Lions

VANCOUVER — Both team’s fought hard in a close battle on Saturday night, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders came out on top with a 24-21 road victory against the BC Lions.

Special teams shined bright in this one with BC kicker Ty Long going a perfect five for five on field goals, while Brett Lauther added three of his own for the Riders. Christian Jones racked up 154 return yards for Saskatchewan while Chris Rainey chipped in 151 return yards for the Lions.

Both defensive units put in a strong performance, with Zach Collaros and Travis Lulay each being held under 250 yards passing while facing heavy pressure and tight coverage all game long. The Riders’ defence recovered two fumbles and Charleston Hughes recorded his league-leading 12th sack of the season.

Collaros finished with 215 passing yards and a 6-yard touchdown to Jordan Lambert-Williams, while Lulay completed 21 of 36 passes for 240 yards and a 10-yard touchdown to Bryan Burnham.

Lions leading receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux left the game with an injury after making a catch in the second quarter.

The Lions got on the board first thanks to an amazing grab from Burnham. The Lions’ receiver extended high against defensive back Nick Marshall to reel in the 33-yard pass from Lulay, but a big sack from linebacker Cameron Judge forced the Lions to settle for a short field goal from Ty Long, giving them the early 3-0 lead.

Saskatchewan responded with a highlight reel catch of their own on the following drive when Shaq Evans leaped up high and out-battled defensive back Winston Rose for a 52-yard catch. Versatile athlete Nick Marshall came in and finished the drive off with a one-yard rushing touchdown after three hard runs from Tre Mason, and the extra point from Lauther put the Riders on top 7-3.

Rainey appeared to be on his way to the end zone on the ensuing kickoff, finding his way into open field for a 74-yard return until Crezdon Butler found a way to run him down for the touchdown saving tackle. The Lions used the positive field position to set up a 27-yard field goal from Long, bringing the team within a point before the end of the opening quarter.

BC defensive end Shawn Lemon shut down Saskatchewan’s opening second quarter drive with his fourth sack of the season, but the Riders managed to extend their lead to four points with a 37-yard field goal from Lauther.

The Lions looked to be moving the ball well after getting it back on offence, but a sack from Riders pass rusher Charleston Hughes jarred the ball loose from Lulay’s grasp and set up a 21-yard scoop and run from defensive lineman Tobi Antigha. Saskatchewan capitalized on the turnover with a 6-yard touchdown toss from Collaros to Jordan Williams-Lambert, helping the Riders grab a 17-6 lead.

The Lions cut the Saskatchewan’s lead down to eight points on the next drive after an impressive 18-yard run from Rainey put Long in position for a 41-yard field goal. The Lions defence would force a punt on the next drive, but Rainey mishandled return and Riders safety Mike Edem recovered the fumble. BC’s defence held strong to limit the Riders to a 44-yard field goal, bringing the score to 20-9.

Burnham found a way to outdo his big first quarter catch on the Lions’ next possession as he stretched out to make an incredible catch and get a knee down in bounds near the edge of the end zone for the 10-yard touchdown. Long added the extra point to make it a five-point game.

Long added a 48-yard field goal for BC before the end of the half to make it 20-18 for the Riders.

Saskatchewan extended their lead to three points at the start of the second half after a missed field goal from Lauther went out of bounds for the single. Returner Christian Jones used his speed to help the Riders add to their lead later in the third quarter, dashing into the open field for a 60-yard punt return that set up a 26-yard field goal from Lauther to make it 24-18.

Long knocked through a 30-yard field goal for the Lions at the start of the fourth quarter to making it a three-point game. Lions’ defensive back Anthony Orange came up with a big fourth quarter interception, but Saskatchewan’s defence stepped up to stop the Lions and preserve the lead and secure the 24-21 victory.

Week 12 will see the Riders host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Sunday, while the Lions will have a week off before hosting the Ottawa REDBLACKS in Week 13.

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