Bikers edge Tiger-Cats 30-13 in CFL opener

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders produced an impressive defensive effort to record a 30-13 season-opening victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday at Mosaic Stadium.

The Riders recorded eight sacks and two interceptions in the Canadian Soccer League contest with kicker Brett Lauther scoring Saskatchewan’s first 15 points of the game on five field goals.

Pete Robertson had two sacks for the Riders with Charleston Hughes, AC Leonard, Charbel Dabire, Mike Edem, Larry Dean and Rolan Milligan also recording sacks. Derrick Moncrief and Nick Marshall had interceptions for the Riders.

Lauther was a perfect 5-for-5 on field goal attempts, shooting from 13, 48, 30, 39 and 41 yards.

Since 2017, the Riders are 29-0 in the regular season when leading after three quarters. They held a 12-6 lead after three quarters on Friday.

Hamilton made things interesting midway through the fourth quarter when quarterback Dane Evans hit Steven Dunbar for a 71-yard touchdown to cut the Riders’ lead to 15-13.

The Riders responded with a long drive, going 85 yards in seven plays, culminating in Cody Fajardo’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Kian Schaffer-Baker with three minutes remaining for a 22-13 lead. The biggest play going forward was a third-and-one bet at midfield with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Riders, who had turned the ball over twice before, kept the drive alive with a 2-yard run by Jamal Morrow.

On his first offensive play after the Riders’ touchdown, Evans was intercepted by Moncrief, who returned the ball 39 yards to the Hamilton one-yard line. Fajardo scored on a sneak pass from the quarterback on the next play and then hit Duke Williams on a two-point conversion to increase their lead to 30-13.

Both offenses struggled in the first half. The Tiger-Cats had four first downs and 96 total net yards, while the Riders had three first downs and 94 total net yards.

Papi White had the biggest gain of the half for the Tiger-Cats, trailing Evans’ 26-yard reception in the second quarter. Saskatchewan’s longest gain of the half came when running back Morrow received a shovel pass from Fajardo and ran 30 yards down the sideline. The play set up Lauther’s second field goal of the half with a 48-yard shot that gave the Riders a 6-3 lead.

Two minutes into the second quarter, Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence drilled into Fajardo, who was being carried onto the turf by Malik Carney. Lawrence struck Fajardo in the upper back and head area and was penalized for foul play. Although Fajardo appeared injured on the play, he stayed in the game.

Hamilton got a break to start the second half when Morrow fumbled on the kickoff and the Tiger-Cats rallied at the Saskatchewan 32-yard line. The Tabbies reached the end zone when Evans connected with Dunbar on an eight-yard touchdown pass, but the touchdown was denied by a holding penalty.

Evans was then sacked by Edem and the Tiger-Cats settled for a 25-yard field goal by Michael Domagala to tie the game 6–6.

Domagala was good on two of three field goal attempts, hitting from 52 and 25 yards and missing from 46 yards when his kick hit the left post.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 11, 2022

Jeff DeDekker, The Canadian Press

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