There was a whole lot of dancing going on in the Roughriders locker room Sunday night.
After a 40-27 win over the Calgary Stampeders there was certainly no shortage of things to celebrate.
They sacked Bo Levi Mitchell five times.
Samuel Eguavoen blocked a punt.
Defensive back Nick Marshall scored on offence — while in as a quarterback — and on defence after an interception.
Rookie receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert caught 10 passes for 152 yards.
Kicker Brett Lauther went six for six on field goals.
And most importantly they handed the Calgary Stampeders their first loss of the season.
“I felt like it was great for our team,” said linebacker Matt Elam who got two of the teams’ sacks. “We need this energy. We need this confidence so we can continue to build off this so we can get to our ultimate goal (the Grey Cup).”
The Roughriders emphasized “the little things” all week at practice and it seemed to pay off in spades for them early.
The offence went barrelling down the field on the first drive which ended in a field goal but set the tone for the entire game.
By the the end of the first the Riders were leading 14-0. Quite the role reversal from the last time these two teams met when it was Calgary up 24-0 on Saskatchewan.
“We came out, we hung on to the football and executed offensively and kept some drives going and burned some clock,” head coach Chris Jones said after the game. “Defensively we took advantage of our opportunities.”
Collaros went 25 of 34 for 270 yards more than half of which went to rookie receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert who had a heck of a night wracking up 152 yards receiving.
“It’s a blessing, man. It’s a blessing. I’m just happy they let me be a part of this program to come out and make plays and trust me to do my job,” said a grinning Williams-Lambert after the game.
“He’s an unbelievable hands catcher. He catches everything with his hands,” said Collaros of his top receiver. “He’s a really hard worker and again, believes in me and I believe in him and when he gets an opportunity he really makes the most of it.”
The only thing Williams-Lambert was missing Sunday night was a touchdown, but the offence did score one. Charleston Hughes disrupted the Stampeders first drive of the second half by sacking Mitchell and forcing a fumble.
With the ball back on the Calgary 30, Collaros and running back Tre Mason got the team all the way down to the three yard line before the put the ball into Nick Marshall’s hands.
Marshall, a former quarterback in college, rushed the ball in for the touchdown – his second of the night after picking off Mitchell in the second quarter and running it back.
It’s obvious Jones has a lot of confidence in the rookie defensive back. Who he said asked for the opportunity to be the short yardage quarterback.
“That’s why we did it tonight, we scored the touchdown there late … over the break (Marshall) called me, he told me he said ‘you put me in there, I’ll get a yard’ and that’s why we did it.”
“I could put him just about anywhere,” Jones continued. “You could put him at running back, you could put him at quarterback, you could put him at receiver. You could him at any defensive back spots and he just knows how to play football.”
With all that going on, it was easy to see why the Roughriders were celebrating, but Jones cautioned against getting too ahead of themselves.
“It’s just one game on a long journey,” he said. “We’re a good football team just like I told everybody, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, we just stubbed our toe a few times and we got to learn to win games.”
Sunday was a good start.
Now they need to replicate it Saturday in B.C.
- Charleston Hughes appears poised to smash his sack total from last season. With his two sacks Sunday night he’s at 11 on the year – the same total he had for the entirety of the 2017 season.
- Samuel Eguavoen said he wasn’t even touched when he ran through the Calgary line to block the punt in the second quarter. “The only thing I touched was the ball. I got a lucky bounce and took it to the crib.”
- Receiver Caleb Holley went down during the game clutching his knee. Head coach Chris Jones said his prognosis did not look good. Cameron Judge who went down later in the game eventually returned.
- In a shocking move the man in black himself, head coach Chris Jones, donned green on the sidelines as part of the CFL’s Diversity is Strength initiative. With a win against Calgary his players – and many fans on social media – joked he has to wear green all the time now. For what it’s worth, he was back in all black for the post-game media availability.