The Saskatchewan Roughriders avoided dubious history on Sunday afternoon in Montreal.
The Riders mounted a dramatic 30-24 overtime win over the Alouettes making sure they weren’t the first team in the 105 year history of the team to lose 16 games in a season.
“It’s a nice to see these guys get their third victory and some positivity,” said interim head coach Bob Dyce.
“Especially the way they fought. It gives them the belief, the same belief that I have, that we’ve turned the corner and are working toward better things.”
Over the last number of weeks, Dyce and the players have talked at length about how they were fighting until the end. Whether it was for themselves or the team, they all had their own motivation to do so.
Until this week, actions seemed to speak louder than words as the Riders were walloped week after week the back half of the season.
“That’s been all season. It’s been clouded by our record. These guys have blocked out everything that anybody said outside of this locker room. That’s why I love these guys,” said defensive lineman Tearrius George.
This game hardly makes up for the 15 losses this season. This season will mostly be better off forgotten. There was a lot of bad, but for the players, this game in Montreal gave them a chance to have a positive memory before group, one that is said to be very tight, is ripped apart.
The biggest question now for the team will be what’s next? The players will clean out their lockers on Monday at Mosaic Stadium. Interim general manager Jeremy O’Day will share his thoughts on Tuesday. President Craig Reynolds will meet reporters on Thursday as he begins to lay out his plan for the future of the franchise, though no major announcements are expected.
For now, this group will try and savor this last positive moment together.
“The fact that all of us together, that we got this win. Being able to enjoy winning is a great thing,” said running back Anthony Allen.
SMITH AND SMITH
The Riders were able to capture their third win of the season thanks to the play of quarterback Brett Smith and receiver Ryan Smith.
Brett Smith came off the bench in the fourth quarter with the Riders down 24-6. The pivot went on to complete 14 of his 19 pass attempts for 188 yards and three touchdowns in very short order.
“It’s huge.I can’t explain how I feel right now,” said Brett Smith.
Ryan Smith meanwhile had the best game of his CFL career with six catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns, leading the team. Thanks to his big game, Smith beat out Weston Dressler for the team lead in receiving yards with 991, nine yards short of the 1,000 yard milestone.
“It was a great season. I wouldn’t take anything back. I played my butt off today,” he said.
Quarterback Keith Price finished his first professional start 10-for-15 for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Allen was the team’s leading rusher with 54 yards on the ground.
Linebacker Denicos Allen led the team with eight tackles. Linebacker Jeff Knox Jr. finished the game with seven tackles, giving him 114 tackles on the season, a new team record. Knox did fall one tackle short of tying the rookie record for tackles in a season.
Defensive back Don Unamba and defensive end Markus White forced fumbles with defensive back Junior Mertile and defensive end John Chick picking up those loose balls.
The win was the Riders first win on the road since the 2014 Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg.