After two weeks of coming so close to victory they could taste it, the Riders have their first win of the season.
Kevin Glenn rushed for two touchdowns for the first time since 2004 and threw for 380 yards and another two majors in the Roughriders 37-20 over the Hamilton Tigercats.
“We got some good guys up front and a nice little back next to me in the back field. When you put that together with a guy like me with these sweet feet today that’s what happens, you can run the ball pretty well,” he joked after the game.
But all kidding aside it was a strong performance by the offensive line in both protecting Glenn and getting the run game off. After being nearly shut out last week against Winnipeg, Cameron Marshall rushed for 71 yards on 12 carries.
Naaman Roosevelt, the Riders top receiver, amassed 167 yards receiving.
All that while the defence kept Zach Collaros on his toes all night, never really allowing him to find his groove.
“That’s how we wanted it to be all night,” said defensive end Willie Jefferson, who had the Riders’ only sack in the game. “We knew he had an unorthodox throwing motion so we just wanted him to get off his spot and make him throw on the run.”
Collaros was just 19 of 34 on his passes Saturday night with one touchdown throw.
“We put it on our front to go get after the quarterback,” head coach Chris Jones explained of the defensive play calling.
“Just allowed the guys to try to play fast and play hard, it was a pretty easy game plan.”
One that paid off in the end, but there was some trouble in paradise to start this one off.
Midway through the first as Glenn put together a 53-yard drive down the field, but on second and two he was intercepted in the end zone. Hamilton’s Justin Rogers ran it back 110 yards for a touchdown.
“It’s frustrating because we got so close and doing something like that – I probably could have thrown the ball a little earlier,” Glenn admitted.
But with the experience that he has, Glenn said he doesn’t let the interceptions phase him anymore. He showed that when the offence went back on the field again right after and scored.
Glenn was a man on a mission. With the support of a 23-yard rush by Marshall, Glenn took the offence 76 yards down field and capped it off by running in a six-yard touchdown himself and made it 9-7 Riders.
“The biggest thing is coming back and I think everybody felt that we could move the ball,” Glenn added.
Both teams traded field goals early in the second. First Tyler Crapigna made one from 45 yards out then Sergio Castillo answered for the Tigercats to make it 12-10.
On the next drive, the Roughriders received a helping hand from the Hamilton Tigercats. Two major penalties, including a roughing the passer, buoyed the Roughriders march down the field. A penalty on Duron Carter killed the Riders first attempt at a touchdown, but two plays later Glenn hit Bakari Grant in the end zone.
The Riders were up 19-10 with five minutes left in the second, a score that held into halftime.
Hamilton’s unraveling continued in the third quarter and the Roughriders took advantage. Three unnecessary roughness penalties and two 20 yard passes to Roosevelt put the Riders at first and goal. After handing off to Marshall for a loss of one, Glenn connected with Carter in the back of the end zone for Carter’s first touchdown as a Roughrider.
In a dramatic turn, Tigercat defensive back Will Hill put his hands on one of the referees after the convert and was ejected from the game.
The accompanying penalty put the Riders on Hamilton 45 yard line for the kickoff, leading to an easy rouge.
Hamilton attempted to rebound with a couple of first downs, including a 20-yard pass Jalen Saunders, but the Tabbies settled for a field goal.
A quick two and out gave Hamilton the ball and it was the Roughriders turn to gift Hamilton with penalties. With less than left in the third Hamilton had the ball on the Roughriders 13 yard line. Collaros found a wide open Junior Collins who ran it in five yards for the touchdown.
The Tigercats were fighting back with a whole quarter left to play, but the Roughriders didn’t give up. Which is what Jones said was the difference maker for his team.
“Good teams respond and if you watch the teams that consistently win, they do those things,” he said.
Big catches from Naaman Roosevelt and Demski took the Riders downfield early in the fourth quarter, but penalties cost the Roughriders in the end and they settled for a field goal. After missing game-winning field goals in back-to-back games, Crapigna was perfect Saturday going two for two and converting all four touchdowns.
With 10 minutes left in the game, the Riders were up 30-20 and not quite finished with the Ticats.
Aided once again by Hamilton penalties, Glenn orchestrated one more touchdown drive finding Carter and Marshall for short games and Roosevelt for a monster 34-yard pass to set up his second rushing touchdown of the night and sealing the win.
Coming off of two heartbreakers, Jones said this win feels pretty sweet.
“It’s hard to win a pro football game and when a group’s struggling to finish like we have the last two weeks – we’ve found ways to give games away – and to walk off tonight, knowing that you deserve to win the football game, was a good feeling.”