Rider's little big man

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

REGINA -- With one remarkable play, the race for second-place in the CFL Western Division just became incredibly interesting.

Omarr Morgan -- one of the smallest players on the Saskatchewan Roughriders -- made the biggest play of his career with 10 seconds left on the clock yesterday afternoon at Taylor Field, blocking a Hayden Epstein field-goal attempt to give the Riders a 37-36 win over the Edmonton Eskimos.

The Rider victory means the Eskimos are just two points ahead of Saskatchewan and Calgary in the battle for second place and the coveted home playoff date.

"The chances of you coming off the edge and blocking it are very slim," said Morgan, a five-foot-nine, 186-pound defensive back, who consistently plays special teams.

GOT A GOOD JUMP

"I got a good jump. Reggie Hunt and Trevis Smith (also) came off the edge and nobody even touched me. (Eskimo) Mike Maurer didn't even touch me. It was kind of easy, actually."

With the music blaring in the victorious Rider locker-room, Morgan accepted congratulations and accolades.

Down the hall, there was no music blasting through speakers in the Eskimo locker room, but Epstein emerged to face the music after the 31-yard attempt that could have won the game.

"The snap was good, the hold was good ... and the kick felt good," said the rookie kicker.

Until Morgan bolted to the Riders' rescue, giving the green and white a third consecutive victory, moving the team to a 6-6 record and 12 points.

The Eskimos have lost two straight and four of the last six games after starting the year 5-1 under first-year coach Danny Maciocia.

But Maciocia was trying to put a positive spin on the tailspin that has the green and gold at 7-5.

"I think we control our destiny," said the coach.

Linebacker A.J. Gass was also looking for the brighter side. "It was right there for us numerous times through the game. As long we learn from it, that is all that matters."

It was a game full of big plays and huge momentum shifts. The Riders were on cruise control, leading 10-1 in the second quarter when quarterback Marcus Crandell fumbled the ball near midfield and Eskimos' linebacker Singor Mobley scooped it up and rolled 53 yards for a touchdown.

That seemed to spark the Eskimos, as the offence pounded the ball down the Riders' throat on a nine-play, 71-yard drive to take a 15-10 lead.

But the Riders answered back with two touchdowns before the end of the half to lead 24-16 at the break.

The teeter-totter tipped the other way in the third quarter, as the Eskimos erupted for 17 unanswered points.

Ray was unstoppable, throwing 11 straight completions and engineering two touchdown drives to take a 33-24 lead.

DEFIED THE ODDS

But Morgan defied the odds again early in the fourth quarter, making a spectacular interception against red-hot Ray and six-foot-three wideout Trevor Gaylor.

"I don't think (Gaylor) thought I was going to jump for (the ball)," said Morgan. "I reached in with one hand and tipped it down to my other hand. It was a lucky play, but I'll take it."

Morgan took it 46 yards down the far sidelines to the end zone, putting the Riders back in the lead 34-33.

The teams traded field goals, setting up the last-second drama, with Eskimos kicking for the victory.

"The littlest men on the field make the biggest plays," said massive Rider defensive tackle Nate Davis.

"It's a huge win."

The Eskimos now face a huge task, meeting the undefeated B.C. Lions Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium, while the Riders play Toronto at home Friday. The Stampeders battle Ottawa the night before.


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