The Saskatchewan Roughriders sounded like an apologetic bunch after Friday’s 28-13 win over the Ottawa Redblacks.
In the dying minutes of what turned out to be the least-penalized game of the Riders’ Craig Dickenson era so far, defensive lineman Garrett Marino injured Ottawa quarterback Jeremiah Masoli with a low hit, getting Marino kicked out of the game.
Marino’s subsequent strut off the field while holding his helmet up high in the air seems to have drawn the ire of many, even more than the hit itself.
Head coach Craig Dickenson made no bones about the fact he wasn’t happy about the situation, despite the win.
“It was disappointing,” Dickenson said. “That’s not the way you want to finish a game. We were playing pretty good football the whole game and we really had a chance to just close it out in style and it ended in a way that none of us want to see.”
“I sure hope Masoli is okay. I hope it’s not too bad. Garrett does feel bad about it and we’ll have a discussion with him.”
“We’ll do something to make sure that he understands that’s not how we play. That’s not what we coach. That’s not what we want to do. That’s not part of how we expect our team to play football so I was disappointed.”
Dickenson pointed to a separate play only a few minutes earlier when Riders’ defensive lineman and CFL sack leader Pete Robertson was injured on a questionable hit from Redblacks’ offensive lineman Dino Boyd as a cause for the debacle.
“I think the defence was upset that Pete got hurt,” Dickenson said. “I think it got a little sloppy at the end and we have to take our share of the responsibility for that, which is a large share. We’ll address it and hopefully Jeremiah is okay and it isn’t a long-term injury.”
Dickenson wasn’t entirely convinced the hit itself was that bad.
“I was disappointed in the antics,” he stressed. “He’s (Marino) trying to beat a guy around the edge and I don’t know if he necessarily even tried to go low. He did go low but it was the antics afterward that really, I think, prompted the reaction from Ottawa’s bench and then ultimately resulted in him getting kicked out of the game.”
“I haven’t had a chance to sit down and visit with him. He went home tonight early. Hopefully, he gets a good night’s sleep and we’ll visit with him tomorrow.”
Saskatchewan quarterback Cody Fajardo has been taking a licking himself these days including five more quarterback sacks that knocked him to the turf on Friday night. He immediately ran over to console Masoli right after the injury occurred.
“I didn’t see the actual play,” Fajardo said. “I just saw Masoli on the ground. I didn’t know exactly what happened. I know emotions are running high but any time we lose a top-tier quarterback like Masoli in the CFL it hurts the product, it hurts the game.”
“He’s (Masoli) a guy that I looked up to in this league. He’s played a lot of football games, a lot of CFL games and he throws it (with) the best of them and runs around and makes plays. I just went out there and told him I wanted to pray for him and injuries are always tough and if you feel like it was not an appropriate hit, you know it’s always tougher to deal with that but that’s the risk we run playing this game.”
“A lot of people were telling me, ‘Protect yourself out there’ but it’s professional football and I think there’s a mutual respect on both sides where it doesn’t get into one of those cheap-shotting games. It’s just unfortunate to see one of the top quarterbacks in this league go down.”
Riders’ receiver Duke Williams was a little more blunt with Marino.
“I told him, ‘You know we’re better than that.’ He was in the moment so there’s nothing you can really do when you’re in the moment like that,” Williams explained.
“I’m not saying it’s a good play because Masoli hurt himself. A shout-out to Masoli, I hope you get better. It’s unacceptable. We don’t condone that. We’re grown men. Masoli has got to go back home to his family but at the end of the day that’s my teammate so I’ve got his back no matter what.”
“But I’m going to tell him right from wrong because that’s my job and that wasn’t right. It just wasn’t a good hit.”
Marino’s actions rattled the Riders so much that Dickenson completely changed his post-victory routine, opting for a more solemn approach in the locker room.
“It totally taints the win,” Dickenson said.
“I talked to the guys for three minutes and told them the schedule, didn’t hand out game balls and didn’t do anything I normally do because we played a great football game and I’ve been here three minutes and this is all we’ve been talking about and I’ll continue to talk about this for probably ten more minutes and it didn’t need to happen.”
“We can win classy and that was not the way I want to see us win games.”