Riders redemption: Jamal Morrow, suffocating pass rush motors Saskatchewan past Montreal

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders promised it wouldn’t happen again and happen again it did NOT.

One week removed from a loss the Regina media dubbed “the Montreal meltdown,” the Riders responded to their 24-point knockdown with a decisive punch of their own. They rolled the Alouettes right back with a 41-20 Saskatchewan win at Mosaic Stadium, keeping pace with the rest of a West Division that continues to beat up on the East like it’s their kid brother.

Cody Fajardo doesn’t lose back-to-back games to anyone but Winnipeg and despite flirting with such a disaster while walking with a limp because of an aggravated knee injury, that streak wouldn’t end against Montreal. The quarterback stepped up in the pocket behind a patchwork offensive line, slinging it to no less than eight different receivers. Duke Williams was the only pass-catcher to not haul one in.

Fajardo earned his paycheque on this day but he was far from the man of the hour.

Jamal Morrow was every bit the star running back that Riders’ coaches said he would be and then some, with over 100 yards for the second time this season — the only times Saskatchewan has given him any kind of a workload at all.

His touchdown run and two-point conversion were simply icing on the cake for an outstanding performance.

Jason Maas deserves some credit for an offensive game plan designed to mitigate a banged-up O-line but it was the athletes who actually made this win happen.

Interceptions from Derrick Moncrief and Nick Marshall, including a late pick-six, sealed it for everyone sitting in Pil Country at the south end zone, all the rest of the fans at Mosaic Stadium and watching from all over the ‘306’ and beyond.

With star outings from Morrow, Moncrief and Marshall, it was a triple-M affair for the Roughriders, indeed.

But the truth is it was the Riders’ sack stars who made the difference, putting up half a dozen on Montreal. That’s not quite the eight given up the other way a week earlier but no one in Regina is complaining.

Anthony Lanier has been embattled lately due to silly penalties and took another one early in this game. He could’ve folded but instead proved why head coach Craig Dickenson lets him play close to the edge, coming up with three quarterback sacks and a forced fumble on Als’ quarterback Trevor Harris, who was under fire all game long.

When his team was still down at halftime, Lanier told TSN sideline reporter Sara Orlesky that he and his fellow pass-rushers planned to apply so much pressure that Harris “couldn’t breathe” in the second half.

Sure enough, Montreal’s quarterback needed a respirator by the time the lights went out in Regina.

Riders fans feel good again about their quarterback who was hurt and still played well enough to deliver a holiday long-weekend win.

Alouettes fans all of a sudden aren’t sure who their quarterback is, one week after it seemed like Trevor Harris had the job won.

One game does not make a season but on this Canada Day long weekend, the country’s most popular football team is feeling reinvigorated. After this win, the Riders can once again dream about the next step towards a Grey Cup championship at home.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.