Both the Roughriders and the Redblacks put their fate in the hands of their kickers – but it was the Riders and Tyler Crapigna that came out on top.
The back and forth game went into overtime on the leg of former Roughrider kicker Chris Milo to make it 29-29 but he couldn’t come up with one in overtime, leaving the Redblacks to settle for a single point.
After two short running plays the green and white put their faith in Crapigna – as they had once before against Ottawa for their first win of the season – and he came up good from 39 yards out.
The Riders won their third straight game 32-30.
Proud seemed to be the word of the day post-game, as head coach Chris Jones mentioned it several times as reflected back on the game, but despite the pride, he did find some faults as well.
“Defensively we took too many penalties there in the fourth quarter, extended drives and if you do that against a good football team they end up closing a two touchdown gap,” Jones said, explaining exactly what the Redblacks did.
The Roughriders were up 29-22 with just 48 seconds to go when four penalties moved the Redblack to the one yard line for an easy touchdown. Overall the team was penalized 16 times for 170 yards.
With the teams tied at 29 points apiece, the Roughrider offence went for good field position for Crapigina, in hopes of ending the game before it went into OT. However, they didn’t quite make it there.
Crapigina, who had gone 5 for 5 up until that point including a 51 yarder, attempted to make one from 55 yards out, but went wide. The ball was taken out of the endzone by Ottawa forcing overtime.
Once there, a miss by Milo and a strike by Crapigna sealed the deal, but it also did something else – silenced many of Crapigna’s critics.
“He kicked the football really well,” said Jones. “He’s kicked a couple of game winners here at the end and I’m proud for Tyler because a lot of people were on him earlier about the game earlier in the year.”
The Riders young kicker had received some criticism from the fan base after going just one for three in field goal attempts during the Labour Day Classic, however, he bounced back almost immediately. Which is exactly what quarterback Darian Durant knew he would do.
“I knew Tyler would be fine … and he’s coming through in the clutch for us,” adding the team always had his back.
For Crapigna himself, he said he never lost faith in his abilities as a kicker even after that Labour Day Classic.
“I don’t have any doubts at all,” he said to reporters after the game. “I know what I can do on the field.”
Crapigna did admit however, that his excellent performance on Friday night was extra special because he was playing at home in front of friends and family.
“A lot of them don’t really get to see me play that often being on the other side of the country almost. So for them to be able to witness that right now something I’ve been doing a couple games this year, I mean, that’s awesome,” he said.
The Roughriders win keeps them hanging precariously onto the hopes of a playoff spot, however, they are now dependent on an Edmonton loss on Monday afternoon.
Instead of dwelling on it, Durant says the team is just focusing on what they can actually control: their own record.
“Our mindset is just to play winning football,” he said, echoing statements made by Crapigna and receiver Rob Bagg after the game.
“Regardless of our record we go out there and give everything and play for it,” Bagg said. “We’re going to play hard until the end of the season regardless of our record.”
The Roughriders next opponent is Toronto next Saturday afternoon.
The team has opted to stay in Ontario instead of returning to Regina to practice at home this week.
– Darian Durant threw his 150th touchdown pass to Rob Bagg in Friday night’s game and having the target be one of his friends meant a lot to him. Durant said the two even talked about it that morning, so for it to happen that way was a thrill. “What a guy to be able to share that with the rest of my life, he’s one of my best friends in the world,” Durant said.
– Durant finished the game 22 of 38 for 328 yards and two touchdowns.
– Tyler Crapigna went 6 for 7 on field goal attempts, his longest clocked in at 51 yards.
– On defence, Greg Jones was responsible for eight defensive tackles and sack, while Justin Cox and Fred Bennett also notched interceptions.
– In his Roughrider debut Willie Jefferson had two tackles and one quarterback sack.
– The Roughrider defence knocked Trevor Harris out of the game in the second half, bringing in Henry Burris in his place.