Riders, LaFrance hope to make playoff push against Redblacks

Evan Radford, Canadian Press

Kienan LaFrance has overcome injury, frustration and the possibility of losing playing time to a former NFL first-round pick to become the late-game workhorse for the resurgent Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Thanks to two recent, high-production fourth quarters, the third-year CFLer has helped power the Roughriders above .500 to an 8-6 record and into contention for a playoff spot at third place in the West division.

LaFrance and the Roughriders will look to ride that momentum into Friday’s game against his former team, the Ottawa Redblacks (6-9), in Regina Friday night.

Two weeks ago, LaFrance and the Roughriders erased a 17-point deficit in Ottawa to beat the Redblacks 18-17. They followed that with another come-from-behind win against Toronto a week later, as LaFrance’s fourth-quarter ball carrying set up Tyler Crapigna’s winning field goal in a 27-24 victory.

“We’ve been playing some good ball lately, but I think that to win every game in the last quarter of the season, we need to look forward to be able to play well in all aspects,” LaFrance said in anticipation of Friday’s rematch with his former team.

The 2017 season has been one of progression for the Winnipeg-born rusher, who won the East Division championship and the Grey Cup with the Redblacks last year, rushing for 230 yards over those two games.

A training camp leg injury kept the 26-year-old off the Riders’ game-day roster for the first four games of the season. He had to wait until the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg on Sept. 9 to get the start at running back after teammate Cameron Marshall went down with an injury.

“No one wants to be injured. It was a little bit frustrating at the beginning,” he said. “I had to get over it a couple of times. And as cliche as it sounds, it develops the person I am today as just being able to overcome that stuff. I’ve been playing for a few weeks now, and it didn’t stop the flow for myself.”

His perseverance and patience have paid off. The Riders’ coaching staff chose LaFrance over newly signed former NFLer Trent Richardson to carry the load for his team in each of its last two fourth quarters.

Over those two frames, LaFrance tallied 77 total yards and one touchdown, along with significant carries to grind down the game clock.

“I’m not gonna lie, That’s what I expected going into the game, that’s what I expect every day,” he said of his fourth-quarter play.

LaFrance said the signing of Richardson – the third-overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft – two weeks ago is just part of putting the team in the best position to win games.

“I can’t really look at it as a shot to me or as a disrespect thing. But when it comes to playing and it comes to what I’m here to do, I’m here to play and I’m here to do my job. And I believe I have the confidence in myself to not be surprised when they put me in that situation,” he said.

Roughriders’ head coach Chris Jones likes his offence’s dependability on the ground of late.

“I told our offensive line today, ‘statistically we don’t look like a team that’s able to run the ball.’ But it was there when we needed it down the stretch against a very good Toronto defence at home, (the Riders’) second game on the road.

“We played very well and we were able to control the football.”

LaFrance noted that to win on Friday, his team will need a well-rounded game from all three aspects of his team.

“(Ottawa has) a good defence. Tip your hat to those guys – they stop the run well, they have good DBs. Just overall, their defence needs respect.

“We need to go out and play our game, and touch on all aspects of running and passing and special teams,” he said.

NOTES: Despite recent success from backup Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge, Jones squelched a potential quarterback controversy by confirming Kevin Glenn will start on Friday…Recent NFL returnee Jeff Knox Jr. will get his first start of the year at weak-side linebacker due to an injury to regular Sam Eguavoen.

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10 Comments on Riders, LaFrance hope to make playoff push against Redblacks

  1. Go Riders! Hamilton will thank you if you can hand the OTTRBs their next loss while they try to knock the Stamps down a peg!

  2. Riders have had an interesting season so far, bottom dwellers until week 7, completely dominant for 3 week, then back to a struggle until the last couple weeks with last minute victories. Hard to know who shows up this weekend. My pick Sask in the final minutes, but then done for the year, will be lucky to win Montreal after Stamps beatdown.

    • God forbid BC comes into IGF and lay you guys a beating like Hamilton did. Sure our last games weren’t pretty.. but they were on the road 2 weeks in a row, one of those being in a downpour. A win is a win baby.
      Also the stumps didn’t give us a beat down last time, who’s to say we won’t go in there and win?
      The bombers are only a couple of injuries away from unchartered waters. They have been extremely lucky with having almost no injuries all year. Just saying 😉

    • greenrider89 // October 12, 2017 at 7:18 pm // Reply

      Pretty crude statements from a person whose team had a major collapse against Hamilton (and at home, yet). And now Nichols is banged up. Blue and Gold could be scrambling to maintain second place. Interesting weeks ahead.

  3. Blue’s calling it the way it is. After the 3 game win streak, the Riders have been pretty average. Worst run game in the CFL by a couple hundred yards, Glenn has been awful for 4 games now, no run game. Have been a bit lucky facing Ottawa with top 2 QB”s missing. Argos missing Ball, Woods, Laing & Lemon in front 7. If a Rider fan thinks that’s the way the team should go into the playoffs, good luck. You’re setting the bar awfully low. You should expect a better performance or do you think this is the same team that blew out Western opponents during that 3 game streak? Take the blinders off – if they play like this vs Calgary they’ll get killed.

    • Have to agree about the last 2 games….far from great performances however found a way to win regardless. The difference I see from the 3 game streak is playing a complete 60 minute game. Tomorrow night will give us a better idea – need a complete effort on O and D in order to prepare for a very tough Calgary team at home.

  4. Bone, yup – by now the two of you know I like Sask, lived there done that, my comments are not an attack, just my thoughts, I’m negative towards Wpg as well many times, personally would LOVE to see a Bombers – Riders grey cup again this time with a different outcome. No offence intended to Rob, green or anyone else I may have offended

  5. Rob – no prob, BTW Riders really need Bombers to win at least the two BC games, maybe only, by week 19 may not be necessary…… wait….what does Blue mean by that last comment??, Riders will have already locked up 3rd??? or…..4th???

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