That’s four in a row for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Riders dominated Drew Willy and the Toronto Argonauts keeping them off the scoreboard until a quarterback change in the fourth quarter.
The final score was 29-11.
The win was exciting enough on its own, but it came with the stand out debut of Roughriders running back Joe McKnight.
McKnight was signed by the Riders in September after being cut by the Eskimos for fumbling issues, but he showed no signs of those in his green and white debut, rushing for 150 yards.
“I came out here with a chip on my shoulder,” McKnight said after the game. “I had to redeem myself.”
And with more than 100 rushing yards in the first half, he’s off to a good start. McKnight’s longest run – 29 yards – lead to a Tyler Crapigna field goal in the first quarter. He continued to come up with first down after first down throughout the game.
“I was proud of the fact that he held on to the football,” head coach Chris Jones said. “He’s had a problem in the past of getting a little bit loose with the football and … he took care of it tonight and certainly made the most of his opportunities.”
Quarterback Darian Durant was also impressed by McKnight’s debut.
“Look around the league, the teams that are most successful has a great run game. So it starts up front and if guys are opening holes for running backs they can do as well as we did tonight,” he said.
After some speculation on how much time the Riders quarterback would see, Durant ended up playing into the fourth quarter before Mitchell Gale and Brandon Bridge had a chance to play.
Durant went 15 of 22 for 162 yards and two touchdowns. 113 of those yards and one of the touchdowns can be credited to the return of Ricky Collins Jr., who played his first game since being injured in September.
The Roughriders defence was also impressive, keeping the Argonauts off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter and chasing Drew Willy out of the football game.
Henoc Muamba, who signed with the club two weeks ago, showed why he was so sought after earning three defensive tackles, three special teams tackles, a quarterback sack and a forced fumble.
Jonathan Newsome also reached the quarterback back once and Otha Foster chipped in with a late game interception.
Durant said it’s all a sign of a team that’s finally gelling.
“It takes time to build that kind of chemistry (and) I’m building that with the receivers, the defence is coming together, they’re learning what Coach Jones is expects out of them,” he said.
It’s all too little too late for the playoffs, of course. The Riders were mathematically eliminated when Edmonton won last week. Both Jones and Durant are still feeling the sting from that.
“We’re not in the playoffs and that makes me sick to my stomach,” the coach said post-game.
“We just put ourselves in a big hole early in the season and it was impossible to dig our way out,” Durant said. “But with this young as a team that we have it’s all about focusing on next year, building that confidence showing the young guys in this room that we can compete and win against the top teams in the league and also do it on the road.”
Next up the Roughriders will face Montreal in the second last game at old Mosaic Stadium.