Darian Durant drives Roughriders to victory
By Sports Network
|BC Lions defensive back Korey Banks (R) goes for the sack as Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant gets the pass away during the second half CFL football game in Regina, Saskatchewan September 29, 2012. (REUTERS/Matt Smith)
REGINA -- Darian Durant threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns as he helped guide the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a thrilling 27-21 win over the British Columbia Lions at Mosaic Stadium.
Weston Dressler, a five year vet in the CFL, entered the game never having registered a receiving touchdown against the Lions and ended up with two in the first half as the Roughriders (7-6) registered their second straight win and the fourth in the last five outings. Durant converted 26-of-34 passes, with nine of those completions going to Dressler who finished with a game-high 160 yards.
Travis Lulay waited until the final minutes to extend his consecutive games streak with a touchdown pass to 24 in a row, finishing with a pair to Marco Iannuzzi, but it wasn't enough as the Lions (9-4) saw their three-game win streak come to an end. Lulay finished 19-of-36 for 232 yards, but was also guilty of two interceptions, the second of which came in the final moments to halt any comeback bid for the visitors.
Following a scoreless first quarter, during which Geroy Simon extended his streak for consecutive games with a reception to 172, the hosts struck first when Durant found Dressler all alone in the corner of the end zone for a 13- yard TD strike.
With Dressler finally having broken the ice against BC, Durant again looked for him on the next possession for the Riders and found the slotback for a lengthy 53-yard TD down the right side to make the score 14-0. At that point Dressler had five catches for more than 100 yards with still more than 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
Yet another drive by British Columbia was halted by the Saskatchewan defence, leaving Paul McCallum to register the first points of the night for the visitors with a single just over six minutes into the second frame.
Dressler appeared to notch his third TD catch of the night with just over five minutes remaining in the first half, but the play was called back because the offence was off-sides. Instead, the Riders had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Sandro DeAngelis to boost the lead to 17-1.
Later in the frame Chris Milo tallied a single for Saskatchewan, giving the hosts an 18-1 advantage at the break, the most points given up by the Lions in the first half this season.
When the second half began it was announced that both Simon and Arland Bruce would not return for the Lions due to injury, making it that much harder for Lulay to navigate through the Saskatchewan defence.
The Lions managed to move the ball a bit in the third quarter, but the squad was still kept out of the end zone and had to settle for a pair of field goals (40 and 20 yards) by McCallum. In between those successful kicks, Milo added another single for the Riders to make the score 19-7 after 45 minutes of action.
The Riders extended the lead to 13 points early in the fourth quarter thanks to another single by Milo.
It wasn't until there was 2:57 remaining in the game that Lulay was able to get the Lions into the end zone, finding Iannuzzi with a 23-yard throw to make the score 20-14 following a successful PAT.
On the ensuing possession Saskatchewan took advantage of a free play, as the Lions jumped early, and Durant made them pay as he whipped a 46-yard touchdown pass down the middle to a leaping Greg Carr at the goal line to give the hosts a 27-14 edge.
Refusing to go away quietly, Lulay led the Lions on another lengthy drive as time ticked away, resulting in a 15-yard touchdown pass to a diving Iannuzzi in the end zone with 1:18 remaining. Once more the deficit was cut to just six points.
The Lions set up for an on-side kick and the team's prayers were answered as Chris McKenzie failed to secure the ball and it went out of bounds, resulting in another series for the visitors.
Lulay and the offence took possession near mid-field and first tried for a deep pass down the right side which went unanswered. The Lions then were flagged for a procedure penalty which moved the ball back five yards. Another deep pass failed to hit the mark and with 1:05 left in regulation Lulay let fly with a desperation pass as he was hit, the ball being intercepted by McKenzie to seal the win for the Roughriders.
For the 12th straight game the Lions failed to score a TD on their opening drive and their one point in the first half was their lowest total in any first half this season...Simon is second all-time behind Don Narcisse who set the mark with 216 straight games with at least one catch...Lulay is second all-time in consecutive games with at least one passing touchdown, trailing Sam Etcheverry who had a string of 34 straight games with a passing major between 1954-56...Saskatchewan now owns a 92-81-4 edge in the all-time, regular-season series dating back to 1954