Riders defence comes up with two big interceptions in rout of Eskimos

The Saskatchewan Roughriders entered this week determined not to let their road losing streak continue.

Jovon Johnson and Kacy Rodgers each returned interceptions for touchdowns in the third quarter as the Roughriders came back from a bye week with a big 54-31 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night.

The Roughriders (4-4) hadn’t won on the road in the West Division since Sept. 7, 2014 – a span of 15 games.

“It was a big focus,” said Saskatchewan receiver Duron Carter. “We know the stats, we see them all of the time on TV. We had to come out and play a complete game, especially on the road.

“We came out and played like this was our home.”

Kevin Glenn was 19 of 31 for 240 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Roughriders, who won their second straight.

Saskatchewan also scored 37 points off of turnovers.

“It was one of those games that you can’t explain,” said Riders head coach Chris Jones. “We had a blocked punt for a touchdown and Mike (Reilly) had a couple of misreads and we were fortunate to get our hands on some footballs, and that doesn’t happen very often.”

Mike Reilly struggled, completing 15-of-26 passes for 160 yards and two interceptions as Edmonton (7-2) dropped its second-straight game and first at home.

“Third quarter, for sure, things just kind of snowballed,” Reilly said. “I just made one mistake after another and I can’t do that sort of stuff, obviously.

“So I’ll take it as an opportunity to learn from it, get better and use it as a motivator.”

Saskatchewan struck first seven minutes in, as Naaman Roosevelt made a diving catch to reel in a seven-yard Glenn TD pass. It was just Glenn’s second touchdown on the road this season.

The Roughriders added to their lead with two minutes left in the opening quarter after Willie Jefferson blocked an Eskimos punt and then scooped the ball up at the 22-yard line and took it into the end zone to give the visitors a 14-0 lead.

The Eskimos briefly woke up early in the second frame as a 33-yard Reilly pass to Brandon Zylstra led to a one-yard QB keeper. However, the convert was blocked and picked up by Carter, who went the distance for two points in Saskatchewan’s favour. The Riders added a field goal to make it 19-6.

Saskatchewan added another major before halftime as Glenn completed a shovel pass under pressure to Cameron Marshall, who took it 21 yards for the TD.

Edmonton continued to be its own worst enemy in the third, as Reilly was picked off by Johnson, who ran it in for a 40-yard TD.

Then, on the Eskimos’ next possession, Rodgers made another interception on Reilly, returning it 50 yards to the end zone.

Edmonton got a wonky one of its own to start the fourth as Saskatchewan fumbled a punt and Cauchy Muamba fell on it for an Esks’ touchdown, with an added two-point convert.

An Eskimos lost fumble eventually led to a four-yard rushing TD by Vernon Adams Jr. Edmonton countered with a nine-yard rushing major by LaDarius Perkins and two-point convert, before Carter reeled in a 12-yard pass for a TD for Saskatchewan.

Edmonton got a late touchdown on a 20-yard pass from James Franklin to Bryant Mitchell.

The Roughriders return home to face Winnipeg next Sunday while the Eskimos travel to Calgary for the annual Labour Day Classic on Sept. 4.

Notes: Defensive end John Chick made his debut for the Esks after coming over in a trade from Hamilton. The crowd of 41,738 at Commonwealth Stadium was the largest in the CFL since 2014. Since 2010 there have been 11 crowds over the 40,000 mark – eight of those in Edmonton and two in Regina.