For only the second time this year, Rider fans went home happy on Sunday afternoon.
The green and white captured their second win of the season defeating the Montreal Alouettes 33-21 at Mosaic Stadium.
“The guys really came together. When we play solid football in all three phases of the game, we’re a very good football team. Today, we did that,” said interim head coach Bob Dyce.
The competition isn’t all that fierce but it was obvious that the Riders had their most complete effort of the season against the Alouettes. Offence, defence and special teams all played a key role in getting the win.
The entire team also came through at times they’ve struggled throughout the season.
Both the offence and the defence got things rolling for the team. After an interception by Macho Harris – his first of three on the night – during the Alouettes first offensive possession of the game, quarterback Kevin Glenn found Rob Bagg in the end zone quickly giving the Riders a 6-0 lead.
“It was huge for us,” said running back Jerome Messam.
“The confidence was high right out of the gate and then we just kept it going.”
Before the half was out, the Riders would tack on another nine points to take a 15-1 lead into the locker room.
It’s the fourth game in a row the Riders held the lead at halftime. Over the course of the last two weeks, they’ve blown that lead and lost.
The home team grew their lead to 23-5 heading into the fourth quarter, the quarter that has caused them so much trouble this season.
This fourth quarter wasn’t like others this year. The Riders actually added 10 more points and were able to close out the game on the ground with a mixture of Messam and running back Anthony Allen.
“Our big boys up front just kind of took over in the fourth,” said receiver Weston Dressler.
“Messam and (Allen) fighting for those extra yards and able to keep the chains moving, you’re going to be able to keep the game moving.”
MACHO HAT TRICK
Defensively, the Riders were led by unlikely source. Defensive back Macho Harris picked off Montreal quarterback three times in the game, including a pick-six in the third quarter that ended up being the game-winning score.
“I never had three picks in one game,” said Harris.
“Coach came in with a great game plan and it worked. We came out executed the plays and tried to disguise our coverages and it worked.”
Coming into the game, Harris had just one career interception in the CFL.
It’s a good thing Harris eventually scored a touchdown as he was hearing it from some his teammates after coming up short of the end zone on his second interception of the game in the first half.
“We told him he couldn’t even juke an o-lineman in there,” said defensive lineman Tearrius George.
“But no, it was good. He kept possession of the ball and kept it good for the defence. He could have though.”
Harris has been a lightning rod for critics all season with numerous missed tackles and other defensive deficiencies. On this night, Harris showed what he’s capable of when things go right.
Messam led the Riders with 111 yards rushing. He also took over the CFL’s rushing lead from B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris.
Naaman Roosevelt led the Riders with 68 yards receiving. Rob Bagg wasn’t too hard behind with 63 yards, but he also added a touchdown, giving him six touchdowns this season – a new career high.
The game was Bagg’s 100th career game.
Glenn finished the afternoon 14-for-31 for 212 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Jeff Knox Jr. led the team once again with seven tackles , taking over the league lead in tackles.
The Riders are now off until Wednesday, they travel to B.C. to face the Lions on Saturday afternoon.