Kevin Glenn threw a touchdown pass and ran for another to lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a record-setting 31-20 East Division semifinal win over the Ottawa Redblacks on Sunday afternoon.
Saskatchewan visits the Toronto Argonauts in the East Division final next Sunday. The Roughriders will try to become the first crossover team to reach the Grey Cup since the rule was adopted in 1996.
Glenn finished 18-of-28 passing for 252 yards in his 12th career playoff start. Marcus Thigpen ran for a game-high 169 yards on 15 carries, including a key 75-yard TD scamper.
Trevor Harris, making his first career playoff start, had over 400 yards passing with two TDs and two interceptions for Ottawa. Harris is scheduled to become a free agent in February.
Ottawa suffered its first playoff loss after winning the 2015-16 East Division finals. The Redblacks (8-9-1) played their first semifinal game Sunday after finishing second to Toronto (9-9).
The Riders (10-8) were fourth in the West Division. They earned the East’s final playoff seed after amassing more points than the third-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-10).
Saskatchewan and Ottawa combined for three touchdowns on the game’s first three possessions. That set CFL playoff marks for fastest two TDs (four minutes seven seconds); fastest three touchdowns (5:54); and first time the opening three possessions resulted in a touchdown.
Ottawa pulled to within 21-11 with Brett Maher’s 22-yard field goal at 2:56 of the third. But the Redblacks had a glorious chance for more after recovering a Saskatchewan fumble on a punt return at the Roughriders’ 19-yard line.
Thigpen cemented the win with his TD run on the next possession, putting Saskatchewan ahead 28-11 to the dismay of the TD Stadium sellout of 24,107.
Maher’s 29-yard field goal at 8:04 cut Saskatchewan’s lead to 28-14 but the Riders countered with Tyler Crapigna’s 31-yard boot to end the third for a 31-14 advantage.
Vernon Adams Jr. and Bakari Grant had Saskatchewan’s other touchdowns. Crapigna added the converts and a field goal.
Diontae Spencer and Juron Criner scored Ottawa’s touchdowns. Criner added a two-point convert while Maher booted a field goal.
Adams Jr. gave Saskatchewan a 21-8 half-time advantage with a one-yard TD run at 10:26 of the second quarter. The Riders dominated the opening half, outgaining Ottawa 308-213 and holding the ball for over 18 minutes.
Saskatchewan also forced two key turnovers. Samuel Eguavoen’s interception halted an Ottawa scoring drive at the Riders’ 10-yard line in the first before Ryan Lindley lost a fumble in the second at the Redblacks 37-yard line.
Saskatchewan’s defence forced 40 takeways (13 fumbles, 19 interceptions, eight on downs) this year, third-most in the CFL. Ottawa’s offence had 34 turnovers, third-most overall.
Saskatchewan opened the scoring with Glenn’s 29-yard TD strike to Grant at 2:49. Ottawa countered at 4:07 with Harris’s 56-yard TD pass to Spencer before finding Criner on the two-point convert.
Glenn’s one-yard TD run at 5:54 gave Saskatchewan a 14-8 lead, capping an eight-play, 82-yard march.