An 80-yard scoring drive in the third quarter gave the Roughriders some life, but they were unable to overcome an ugly first half.
The trouble started early for the green and white. The club managed just one first down in the entire first quarter and the offensive line seemed incapable of stopping the Stampeders defence.
“You got to be perfect in order to beat them and we weren’t perfect tonight,” left tackle Derek Dennis said. “The offensive line – including myself – we came out early in that first half and s–t the bed quite frankly … I think we found a rhythm in the second half but it was just a little too late. You can’t have starts like that against the Calgary Stampeders.”
Kevin Glenn, who went 20 of 29 for 203 yards, was sacked five times in the first half, three times by Charleston Hughes and twice by James Vaughters as the Roughriders fell 27-10 to their western division rivals.
The Stamps, on the other hand, had a strong first half. With the help of two successful challenges in short order, Calgary had two drives extended. One led to a field goal while the other amounted to Bo Levi Mitchell’s 100th career touchdown pass. Mitchell threw for just 253 yards but tossed two touchdowns and an interception that was caught by Riders linebacker Sam Williams.
The first quarter ended 10-0.
In the second, the Riders didn’t fare much better. They managed just two first downs in the quarter after the pocket collapsed over and over on Glenn.
Stampeders running back Jerome Messam, however, got just what he needed from his offensive line, rushing for 96 yards on 17 carries in the first half alone. A 12-yard run by Messam, paired with back-to-back catches by Kamar Jorden moved the stamps down the field. A Riders penalty and a 19-yard reception by Lemar Durant put Calgary up 17-0.
The Riders’ time with the ball was short lived after that, and Calgary ran the clock down until the dying seconds of the half. The Riders took a knee with the final play of the half, putting to an end a dreadful two quarters.
A rejuvenated Roughrider team seemed to come out of the dressing room in the second half and strung together an 80-yard march down the field. Naaman Roosevelt helped Glenn make history with a 23-yard completion, giving him 50,000 career yards. Glenn became just the seventh player in CFL history to hit that marker, but he didn’t feel much like celebrating.
“It’s tough to enjoy it because the bigger prize was the win. I’m a team guy, that’s all I’m about. But it’s good to be recognized for your individual statistics,” Glenn said.
“I credit it to all the guys I ever played with,” he added.
“It’s a blessing to know you have a guy that has 17 years under his belt,” said Dennis of his quarterback, before taking the blame for not getting him the win. “He knows how to win when you give the chance to do his job and I think, the offensive line, we didn’t do that tonight in the first half. I take the blame fully, we take the blame as a unit we got to play better than that. We didn’t play like ourselves.”
Cameron Marshall, who rushed for a total of 40 yards and had another 43 receiving, put an exclamation point on the historic drive by rushing five yards for a touchdown.
It would be the only major of the game for the Riders, but it gave the team some life.
On their next possession, Glenn marched his team down the field again with the help of a 24 yard rush by Marshall, but the offence was stopped on Calgary’s 19-yard line and settled for a field goal.
It was 17-10 with nearly all of the fourth quarter left to play.
But the Stampeders came storming back, first marching down the field for a 47-yard field goal and more crucially knocking about six minutes off the clock.
The teams traded two and outs before Roy Fitch scampered a return back 39 yards to place Calgary on the Saskatchewan 29 yard line. From there an untimely Saskatchewan penalty and a 13 catch with a 13 yard run by Jorden put the Stamps well within Messam territory. After being stopped just short of the goal line by Henoc Muamba, Messam punched it in on the second try to seal the game for the Stampeders.
“They out-rushed us, they out-passed us, they out-statted us across the board … we got beat by the better football team tonight,” said heach coach Chris Jones.
The Riders are back in action next Saturday against Toronto.