Saskatchewan Roughriders put together late comeback to beat Elks at home

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders put together a late comeback to beat the Edmonton Elks 12-11 at Mosaic Stadium on Thursday.

With the Riders trailing 11-3 with under three minutes to go, quarterback Trevor Harris marched the Riders down the field to tie the game at 11 with a touchdown pass to Mitchell Picton and a two-point conversion to Kendall Watson. A rouge on the ensuing kickoff gave the home team the lead much to the delight of the fans in Regina.

The veteran quarterback started his 100th game in the league and finished 19 of 29 for 289 yards, a touchdown and an interception as the Riders move to 3-1.

Edmonton controlled most of the games but failed to turn that into more than four singles and a touchdown as quarterback Taylor Cornelius added a rushing major for the now 0-5 Elks.

After a two-and-out by the Riders to open the game, Cornelius and the Elks went to work. The pivot converted an important second-and-eight with his legs before finding Steven Dunbar Jr. open to move the ball across midfield. That gave No. 15 another chance to use his legs again and convert his third second down in three attempts. The drive stalled at the Riders’ 25-yard line and Faithfull missed it wide-left for a single to make 1-0 in favour of the visitors.

Harris and co. came back onto the field and put the ground game to use. First it was Jamal Morrow and then Frankie Hickson gaining chunk yardage with inside-zone runs into Edmonton’s defensive line. The run game gave the Riders a chance for play-action fake and Harris found Samuel Emilus wide open to move it to the Elks 23-yard line. Saskatchewan’s pivot then connected with Tevin Jones all the way to the five-yard line before two consecutive Green and Gold stops forced third down. The Riders offence stayed in the game and an incompletion by Harris looking for Jones turned the ball over on downs back to Edmonton.

The Elks had to punt the ball back to the home team after a couple of first downs, but their defence showed up again as Leonard strip sacked Harris to give Edmonton the ball at Saskatchewan’s 40-yard line.

A 36-yard touchdown pass from Cornelius to Dunbar Jr. was wiped out after a holding call on Edmonton’s offensive line and Chris Jones’ squad had to settle for another field goal try. Faithfull missed his second attempt of the game and returner Mario Alford ran the other way for a score that would give the Riders their first lead of the game. Would, because a holding penalty during the return nullified the major.

After another Riders punt, Cornelius move the chains a couple times but a drop on second down had the Elks settling for their third rouge, this time on a Jake Julien 82-yard boot to make it 3-0.

With the clock showing 02:03 to go in the first half, Harris and the offence finally got going. First he found Picton for a 39-yard gain. Two completions later, it was first-and-10 from the 11-yard line but once more Edmonton’s defence shut the door and forced third down. This time it was Brett Lauther coming in to tie the game late in the first half.

Anyone said rouge? Cornelius and the Elks marched just enough for yet another single to open the second half as Julien punted 56 yards and into Saskatchewan’s end zone to retake a 4-3 lead.

Another two-and-out by Harris and the Riders gave Edmonton a chance to extend the lead. That’s exactly what they did after backup running back Shannon Brooks caught a 31-yard pass to move it all the way to Saskatchewan’s 30-yard line. The scoring came a couple first downs later via quarterback sneak by six-foot-five Cornelius to extend the lead to 11-3.

It looked like the Riders were going to answer with a scoring drive of their own, but Lewis intercepted Harris in the end zone to keep his team’s lead intact.

Both teams trade punts for most of the fourth quarter until the Riders put something together with under three minutes to go. Harris scrambled and found Jones down the right sideline to move the ball to the 38-yard line. The veteran then called his own number to get another first down before handing it off to Morrow for nine more yards on the ground. The running back converted third down two plays later and Saskatchewan’s pivot found Picton in the end zone to get his team a two-point conversion away from tying the game. And tie they did with a Harris-Watson connection to tie the game.

As overtime loomed, the Riders found a way to get the lead with a single on the kickoff that broke the tie.

Nic Marshall intercepted a late attempt by Cornelius to seal the victory for Saskatchewan.

Teams coming off a bye are now 4-0 on a week’s rest in 2023.

Coach Craig Dickenson improved to 8-1 against the Elks.

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