The Saskatchewan Roughriders were slapped with reality on Friday night as their mathematical playoff chances came to an end following a 30-15 beat down at the hands of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“At the beginning of the year, that’s always your goal to get into the playoffs. It’s a little disheartening,” said interim head coach Bob Dyce.
“Obviously our focus changes a little bit.”
Just how Dyce plans to change the team’s focus heading into their final games of the season he wouldn’t say at this point. When asked if Dyce would go with the younger quarterbacks the rest of the season, Dyce only said he would have to sit down with interim general manager Jeremy O’Day and talk things over.
Coming into the night, the Riders needed a win and an impossible amount of help in order to keep their playoff hopes alive for another week.
None of that matters now, as the Riders took matters into their own hands and put an end to their miserable 2015 season themselves.
“It’s disappointing, obviously. This season’s been (an) underachievement. Playoffs are out of the question now. We have to come back and play for pride the last three weeks,” said offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte.
This one opened with some semblance of hope as the Riders actually held Hamilton to just a 3-0 lead through the opening quarter. The game could have been tied if not for another missed field goal from veteran Paul McCallum.
The Ticats started to flex their muscle in the second quarter with two touchdowns from rookie quarterback Jeff Matthews and a last second field goal.
Matthews finished the half with 15-for-17 for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Riders veteran Kevin Glenn struggled again going 11-for-17 for 67 yards and an interception.
It’s the second week in a row Glenn was badly outplayed by a rookie quarterback on the other team. In B.C. Jonathon Jennings picked up nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns . Brett Smith would replace Glenn to open the second half.
For a brief time, it looked like the Riders were going to get back into the game thanks to a 79-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Weston Dressler cutting the lead to 20-7.
However, hope was quickly dashed by defensive back Marshay Green’s missed tackle that sent Terrell Sinkfield Jr. to the house for an 87-yard touchdown restoring Hamilton’s 20 point lead.
The offence did look better in the second half under Smith, but the 23-year-old quarterback wasn’t taking any solace in that after the game.
“I’m focused on the mistakes that I made, I know that there was plenty,” said Smith.
After that, the rest of the evening was purely for show – much like the Riders remaining three games.
NUMBER CRUNCHING AND NOTES
Dressler became the Riders first receiver to surpass 100 yards receiving in a game since Dressler surpassed the mark against the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 30. Dressler’s 104 yards led the team.
Smith finished the night with 11-for-20 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Matthews on the other hand, was 22-for-33 for 385 yards and three touchdowns.
Linebacker Jeff Knox Jr. led the defence with nine tackles. Defensive end John Chick had a couple of quarterback sacks.
Defensive Alex Hall left the game in the first-half with what appeared to be a leg/knee injury. All Dyce could say after the game was that it was a “major injury.” Smith was favouring his throwing hand in the game but said he’s fine.
The Riders are now on their second bye-week of the season. They’re next game is Oct. 24 against the Edmonton Eskimos, their final home game of the 2015 season.