Riders had their chance to win

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

The Saskatchewan Roughriders had a shot. It was a long shot at best.

But it was a shot.

And coming into Edmonton playing in a hostile environment, a shot is sometimes the most a team can ask for.

But Paul McCallum's 52-yard field goal attempt was wide left, giving the Edmonton Eskimos a hard-fought 19-18 win yesterday at Commonwealth Stadium.

PLAYOFF-CALIBRE FOOTBALL

"It was a good football game," said Roughriders head coach Danny Barrett. "It was playoff-calibre football, which is good. Our guys fought to the end. To have a chance in the end was all you could ask for in a game like this. We had an opportunity and we just didn't get it done, that's the bottom line."

They almost got it done.

Midway through the fourth quarter the Roughriders led 18-12, limiting the Eskimos offence to four field goals.

However, the Eskimos put together a nine-play, 73-yard drive for the winning touchdown. The drive was capped off with a one-yard, third-down touchdown plunge by quarterback Ricky Ray. There were some questions if Ray got into the endzone.

"Defensively we played well, with the exception of that one drive," said Barrett. "That's the only thing that matters. But the guys did play a great game and I told them that. You can win with efforts like that and we had a chance."

Offensively, Corey Holmes led the way for the Roughriders. The import running back, took a punt back 87 yards for a touchdown to give the 'Riders a 14-6 lead just before halftime. Holmes also earned 44 yards on the ground on four carries.

"He's my vote for most outstanding player," Barrett said. "If anybody votes one of these quarterbacks in the West, then there's something wrong with their head. There is nothing spectacular about a quarterback playing in the West. Corey Holmes is the guy."

LOTS OF WORK TO DO

The loss leaves the 'Riders with work to do in order to clinch a playoff spot. With two games left, the Roughriders can finish as high as second or as low as fourth and out of the playoffs.

"It was a good effort, but it just wasn't good enough," said Riders quarterback Marcus Crandell, who finished 14 for 33 passing for 121 yard without a touchdown or an interception. "We wanted to come out here and win. We wanted to come in here and win the game and put us in a better position for the playoffs."


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