West win gives Riders share of first

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Winning ugly sure beats losing pretty.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders did what they had to do to steal a 23-20 road win before an Edmonton Eskimos' record regular-season home crowd at Commonwealth Stadium.

And, nobody could say it was pretty.

Saskatchewan's only regular-season win against the Edmonton this season improved their record their record to 7-5 and into a first-place tie in the wild CFL West with the Calgary Stampeders.

"It's a big win for us," said Rider coach Ken Miller.

"It keeps us in first place. It keeps us out of the pack in second place or worse.

"Certainly, there were a lot of miscues, but the weather was a major factor in some of the errors."

Esks QB Ricky Ray's final pass of the game with 60 seconds left to play bounced off the fingers of an extended Jamaica Rector.

"You can't always put yourself in a situation where it's always going to come down to the last drive of the game one way or the other," said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall.

"When it's all said and done, we didn't make enough plays to win the football game."

Ray's 15-for-29 passing performance was about as sub-par as they come, and Durant didn't fare much better completing 23 of 33 with three interceptions. Neither threw a touchdown in wind that gusted over 50 km/h.

Saskatchewan scored just one offensive touchdown, but their timing couldn't have been better.

Right after the Eskimos had scored a go-ahead TD early in the fourth quarter for a 20-15 lead, quarterback Darian Durant responded.

The Riders took the ball on their own 45 yard line and Durant picked apart the Esks offence as he put together a seven-play, 65-yard drive that gave Saskatchewan their margin of victory with 9:33 to go.

"The thing we did is capitalize when we needed to," said Durant, who was on the sidelines when backup QB Stephen Jyles scored the winning TD on a one-yard sneak.

"We made drives into the wind when we needed to and that was huge on a day like this," added Durant, whose team racked up 385 yards net offence.

"It was tough, man. The past few games we played in Regina were windy, but the wind is nothing like out here. It swirls a bit and you never knew where the ball was going to go. It was pretty tough.

"We definitely didn't want Edmonton to win all three games, so it was good to win this one."

Saskatchewan had taken a 12-10 lead into the locker-room at halftime on a wacky play that was pretty symbolic of the way the West Division tilt went.

After a couple of Riders penalties had moved the team out of field goal range, punter Jamie Boreham was called in and it looked like the Riders had left three points on the field.

Boreham's punt was bobbled by Esks returner Bradley Robinson and linebacker Renauld Williams pounced on the ball.

"Good things happen when you run to the ball," said Williams.

"I was just trying to get there, man. I picked it up, touchdown. I saw him bobble it, got down there. A couple of guys missed but I happened to jump on it and keep it. It's a big play.

"Any time you can score other than our offence, the momentum swings."

Commonwealth has always been a tough place for the Riders, who have won here just once in the last 11 starts.

"Coming down and getting a win in Edmonton is great," said defensive back Omarr Morgan.

"It means a lot for me. We experienced such a low last week, but it means a lot to have possession of first place after what happened last week."

CON.GRIWKOWSKY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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