When making a list of what they’re thankful for this weekend Rider fans are sure to be putting Willie Jefferson near the top.
The game-changing defensive lineman ended a touchdown drought in Monday afternoon’s game against the Edmonton Eskimos and also secured the win for his football team.
With Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly trying to make something happen with 2:16 left on the clock, Jefferson nabbed the football and ran it back for a touchdown.
But in classic Willie Jefferson style, he milked it a little bit.
Willie Jefferson (@Stmn_Willie_Bmn) comes up with an interception and takes it all the way to the house for his second touchdown of the season! @sskroughriders lead late in the game! #CFLGameDay #LiveMic pic.twitter.com/p8NXks2cBs
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) October 8, 2018
“Most of the time when I catch an interception it’s mostly just lineman and quarterbacks chasing me,” Jefferson explained after the game was over, his teammates shouting around him. “I already have my momentum going down the field so at the end of the day I didn’t think none them were going to catch me.”
It’s the second time Jefferson took the scenic route into the end zone. The last time was in Winnipeg. Though this time, Jefferson’s dilly-dallying had a purpose: running down the clock.
“I was saying ‘get in the end zone’,” head coach Chris Jones said with a chuckle. “And then I took a peek back and it was clicking down to I think 1:37 and I looked – wasn’t anybody forcing him.”
It was all good in the books of his coach and his teammates too.
“I think he’s got it down pat, man,” said Ed Gainey, who earned an interception of his own in the game, of Jefferson’s pick-six. “He got his timing just right. He might take the scenic route but hey, just as long as he makes it in the end zone he’s good with me.”
It was a good thing, too. Before Jefferson scored, it had been a bit of a snooze fest on offence with each team being limited to field goals only.
Roughrider quarterback Zach Collaros went 25 of 38 for 259 yards and an interception.
Edmonton’s Mike Reilly was 13 of 27 for 222 yards and three interceptions.
Eskimos kicker Sean Whyte went four for four on his field goals, putting up Edmonton’s only points in the match-up. Saskatchewan’s Brett Lauther went an uncharacteristic four of six but came up in the end when it mattered, nailing a 38 yarder with 18 seconds left to put the game within in seven at 19-12.
And it almost became really important he did, as Reilly found a way to complete his 71-yard Hail Mary to Bryant Mitchell with two seconds left. Fortunately, Gainey was there to make the tackle.
“I saw the way he threw the ball, he got a strong arm and he threw a rocket so I kind of stood back and was like ‘Nah, I’m not going to try to get (this interception)’ and luckily I didn’t – I ended up making the tackle,” Gainey said before adding the team might need to practice that drill next week.
Jefferson’s pick-six makes seven for the Roughriders defence this season – but their goals are little loftier. So don’t be surprised if you see a few more.
“Our goal is 10, that’s our goal every year is to score 10 defensive touchdowns,” Jones said. “That’s kind of been the benchmark in the past to be doing enough defensively to score ourselves in order to help your football team get where it needs to be.”
Jefferson is now tied with Nick Marshall for two pick-sixes, while Tobi Antigha, Samuel Egauvoen, and Duron Carter all added one to the tally.
The Roughriders will take Tuesday off before returning to the practice field Wednesday to prep for Winnipeg.