There was a mixture of disappointment, frustration and steely determination in the Roughriders locker room Saturday night.
After winning four straight the Roughriders stubbed their toe big time against the Ottawa Redblacks falling 30-25 – a score that was much too generous for the game that they played.
The Rider defence allowed the Trevor Harris led Redblacks 494 total yards offence including a 109-yard march down the field for a touchdown.
But it was the offence that truly disappointed putting up just 240 yards total in a game that saw the fans booing at the dying minutes ticked down.
“I’d have booed us too, we were playing pretty bad,” said quarterback Zach Collaros after the game.
The pivot put the lack of production on offence squarely on his own shoulders, though he could hardly be blamed for all of it.
“That doesn’t shock me at all that Zach would say that,” head coach Chris Jones said. “There was a few times tonight he wasn’t protected and as a quarterback, you’re looking down the barrel when it’s first (down) and 15 (yards), and first and 20 and second and 20 … it makes for a tough night.”
Add to that drops, missed blocks and two interceptions and you can see the multitude of ways it all went wrong for the Riders.
“We just need to score touchdowns, obviously we can move the ball up and down the field but when we get in that red zone we just find a way not to get in there,” said a frustrated Thaddeus Coleman. “We got to heap on that this week at practice, find a way, whatever, if we just practice red zone all week – we got to find a way to get touchdowns. That’s it.”
The Roughriders did have three of them tonight, but two of them had nothing to do with the offence or the defence.
Special teams came out big against the Redblacks with Marcus Thigpen starting the game out right running the opening kick off back 97 yards for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, Kyran Moore joined the fun running a punt back 90 yards to pay dirt.
The third touchdown came in the dying moments when Collaros finally connected with Naaman Roosevelt to bring the score within five, which is where it stayed.
But Jones was not about to put it all on the offence and he felt that the early kick off return may have actually cost his team some focus.
“That’s sometimes the kiss of death. A team that’s won four-in-a-row and they’re very confident and then they get a big play like that early … sometimes it can be one of the worst things that can happen. They think it’s going to be easy and it’s never easy,”
But if there was a good thing to come out of Saturday’s loss it was a renewed resolve from the Rider locker room and the sense of a team that’s coming together after a loss not falling apart.
“We’re definitely fired up, I’d hate to be the team that plays against us next week,” said linebacker Sam Eguavoen. “We got a lot of ground to make up and we’re going to try to do it all on them.”