“Don’t drop it.”
That’s what Duron Carter said he was thinking when he made one of the most spectacular catches of the season.
It happened in the last minute of the first half and the Riders were down by a touchdown. Kevin Glenn sent the ball 18 yards into the end zone for Carter who jumped up in the air, backhanded the catch and directed it into his body before he landed to score the major.
“That may rank as one of the top catches I’ve ever seen in 17 years,” Glenn said after the game.
“I knew it was the last play of the half and I wanted it,” Carter said. “I told Kevin I wanted it, they called my play and a had to produce.”
In fact, Carter produced all night, showing some vintage flare as the Roughriders beat the Toronto Argonauts 38-27.
He ended the night with nine receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
But the game was good all around for the Roughriders. Throughout the season games have been decided across the CFL in the dying minutes. The Riders were able to hold on to the lead until the very end.
“Offensively, especially in the fourth quarter, our level of execution and not running out of bounds, burning the entire clock there to go up two scores, I thought that was one of the biggest key elements in the game,” head coach Chris Jones said.
The Riders’ run game took off, with Cameron Marshall rushing for more than 100 yards for the first time this season. Marshall had 18 carries for 110 yards and averaged 6.1 yards per carry in the game.
On the other side of the ball, the Roughriders defensive line came alive with five sacks: two by Tobi Antigha, and one each from Willie Jefferson, Samuel Eguavoen and A.C. Leonard.
“It’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for,” Jefferson gushed in the locker room. “We’ve been waiting for a dominant game on the defensive line.”
In the end, it was a victory for the green and white, but it didn’t start out as well as it ended.
In fact, it was a strong first quarter for the Argos who capped an opening drive with a field goal then went on to force the Riders into a two and out.
On the next drive Ray connected with Declan Cross to move the team up 45 yards, and then after a two man rush couldn’t stop him he found Llevi Noel in the end zone to put the Argos up 10-0 with six minutes left in the quarter.
The Riders offence got moving on the next possession, punctuated by a 17-yard completion to Naaman Roosevelt, but the green and white were stalled on the 14-yard line and settled for a field goal.
If the first quarter was all Argos, the Riders took over the second with their play. The defence pummelled Ray in back-to-back drives with sacks from Leonard and Antigha. But it was the offence on display after Glenn found Bakari Grant for 49 yards and two plays later connected with Roosevelt in the end zone, tying the game up at 10.
The touchdown would not go unanswered, however, as Ray marched the Argos 64 yards down the field and hit S.J. Green in double coverage.
Saskatchewan had one minute before the end of the half to make something happen and after being buoyed by two Argos penalties, Glenn tossed the ball up to for that aforementioned spectacular catch.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) July 30, 2017
The Riders tied the game up at 17 going into half time.
The fight remained in both teams after the half and Saskatchewan opened the scoring with a 23-yard field goal by Tyler Crapigna. Crapigna would go three for three in field goal attempts and also execute a successful short kick which gave the Riders the ball back off what would have been a kickoff.
Ray came back out with the offence and with the help of back-to-back first downs to former Roughrider Armanti Edwards was able to move the ball back down to the red zone. Ray found an open Jeff Fuller in the end zone but failed in the attempt of the two-point convert. The Argos held on to their last lead of the game, making it 24-20.
The rest of the third was all Riders offence. Glenn executed a drive that started on the Riders’ 31-yard line and ended in the fourth quarter with the second Carter touchdown of the night.
From there the Roughriders took their first lead of the game and didn’t let go.
All week the team preached consistency and focused and it paid off in the fourth. Crapigna’s 12-yard kick was wrangled successfully by Eric Dargan giving the Riders the ball back when they would have given it up. While the drive ended in a punt, the Riders’ defence took over and forced a two and out.
The teams exchanged field goals before the Riders sealed the game with their final touchdown. Glenn hit Grant three times on the drive, including a play where Grant went down untouched on a 12-yard reception, got up and scampered for another 12 yards. Grant ended the game with 5 receptions for 115 yards.
Caleb Holley, who returned this week from a shoulder injury, scored the Riders final touchdown and Naaman Roosevelt converted for two points to put the Riders up 38-27.
With a minute left on the board the Argos were stopped on the Saskatchewan 28 without scoring another point.
The Riders are now 2-3 on the season and head into a home and home series against the B.C. Lions starting on Saturday.