The Saskatchewan Roughriders are finally on the board in 2015.
The Riders continued their domination of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Labour Day Classic downing their rivals to the East 37-19 on Sunday afternoon.
The victory was not only the first for the team this season but also the first head coaching win for interim bench boss Bob Dyce.
“This is probably the first time I’m happy for myself,” said Dyce after the game.
“I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it.”
Dyce was putting other before himself after the game. He was happy for the players who finally got to taste victory for the first time this year.
He was happy for his new interim general manager Jeremy O’Day after his first win and Dyce was happy for president and CEO Craig Reynolds who finally got his first win as well.
Even if Dyce wasn’t thinking about himself, the rest of the team sure was.
“Dyce is a great coach. He’s a player’s coach. He works hard and knows his stuff. Guys will run for a wall for him,” said running back Jerome Messam.
The moment never seemed too big for Dyce. Overall, there wasn’t too many tough decisions to make in this game.
A couple of decisions made by the coach were the right ones though. Dyce did keep the challenge flag in his pocket in the first half when it appeared the Bombers had fumbled on a play. Dyce also opted to go for two when the team took a 22-10 lead to make it a two touchdown game.
“The game went pretty smooth,” said Dyce.
“Things flowed pretty smooth. There wasn’t a time I felt, oh boy.”
Even though game day’s can be a blur for coaches. Dyce did have a moment on the sidelines before the game where everything felt real. This was now his team.
“The time waiting for the national anthem. That’s a little bit of a quiet time. The guys are in the middle of the field,” he said.
“(The public address announcer) did say the Saskatchewan Roughriders led by Bob Dyce.”
And even though it was a chilly day at Mosaic Stadium. Dyce was glad to take the Gatorade shower at the end of the game.
“It felt good for the reason I got. It’s cold, I’ll tell you that much.”
One change Dyce did make to his roster this week was going all-American at defensive line.
That meant Andre Monroe made his first CFL start. Monroe made the move look smart with a couple of sacks.
“I did imagine myself being productive. If you want to be a good player, you need to do those things,” said Monroe.
Monroe got some help from his teammate Markus White to make it happen though. Monroe was wearing White’s cleats because his were still being broken in and weren’t wide enough to wear for a game yet.
“I tried to put them on earlier and I was like, ‘I can’t do it.’ I turned to my man Markus and he was able to help me out.”
Monroe also caught the eye of Rider Nation for his first sack celebration when he lifted his shirt and rubbed his belly.
“That one was for my teammates. They had encouraged me to do it before the game,” he said.
After the reaction he got, Monroe knows he might be stuck with the celebration now.
“I’m going to be the guy, number 99 with the big belly.”
After being notably absent for the last few weeks the Riders ran the ball against the Bombers. As a team, they rushed for 161 yards. Messam led the way with 73, quarterback Brett Smith also scrambled for 57 yards.
For the first time this year a Riders quarterback did not throw an interception. Smith finished the day 19-for-25 for 211 yards passing and one touchdown.
Rob Bagg was the team’s leading receiver with 57 yards. Ryan Smith added another 53 yards and a touchdown.
Jeff Knox Jr. led the Riders with six tackles. Monroe at the team’s only two sacks. Linebacker Tyron Brackenridge also created and recovered a fumble for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Nic Demski returned a punt for a touchdown in the second quarter. It’s the first punt return touchdown for the Riders this season.
The Riders will now be off until Wednesday. They’ll travel to Winnipeg for the Banjo Bowl next Saturday night.