‘In any other league or any other football game, that’s a touchdown,’ Charleston Hughes heartbroken by disallowed score in Riders’ loss to Argos

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

An unfortunate bounce bit the Saskatchewan Roughriders badly in the third quarter of their 31-21 loss to the Toronto Argonauts on Sunday night.

Justin Lawrence fired a low snap beneath the arms of Argos’ quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, setting up a mad dash between the veteran passer and Roughriders’ defensive end Charleston Hughes to recover it.

Hughes swatted the ball away from Bethel-Thompson, scooped it up and ran through the end zone to celebrate what appeared to be a game-changing Saskatchewan touchdown in Pil Country. Not only would the score put the Riders up by 10 points, but it also allowed Hughes to exact his revenge against the team he regretted signing with last season.

Instead, the officials huddled for a lengthy discussion and determined the ball had to be spotted back at the point of Hughes’ recovery due to a little-known and somewhat obscure rule.

“One of the refs came to me and told me if I would have kicked the ball, it would have been a touchdown,” Hughes said. “But because I reached down and tried to scoop the ball with one hand, he had interpreted as I advanced the ball forward.”

“It was one of those things where I’ve got to make a quick decision. But the decision wasn’t in my favour at that point,” he said. “It sucks because it’s a silly rule when you really think about it and look at it because in any other league or any other football game, that’s a touchdown. So I guess the next time (I’ll) reach down with two hands.”

The Riders’ offence, which struggled throughout the game with rookie CFL quarterback Jake Dolegala at the controls, stalled and had to settle for a Brett Lauther field goal.

Also heartbroken by the negated touchdown was head coach Craig Dickenson who made the controversial decision to leave Hughes off the game roster for last week’s Touchdown Atlantic game, despite having taken Charleston with the team to Nova Scotia with a depleted defensive line.

“Charleston did everything he could to help us with the game tonight,” Dickenson said. “I thought he was a real leader on defence and really sparked that momentum that we got in the third quarter.”

“We want to play him when he’s ready to go. We want to have an abundance of D-linemen. Unfortunately, right now we don’t have very many.”

“We’re trying to get back to that team we had where we had six, seven, eight D-linemen rotating in and we’ll get there eventually. It’s just going to take a little bit of healing and a little bit of time.”

The Riders’ pass rush started the year as arguably the CFL’s best but has been decimated by injuries to CFL sack leader Pete Robertson and star defensive end A.C. Leonard. That’s in addition to the four-game suspension slapped on fellow defensive lineman Garrett Marino.

Saskatchewan’s defensive line is hurting, something not lost on Hughes who is trying to seize the opportunity and did so Sunday night, producing a quarterback sack and the forced fumble.

“I think I showed everything I got,” said a smiling Hughes postgame, admitting he’s having fun with his age being such a topic of conversation among CFL people these days. “I don’t really look at it as age as a number.”

“Every time I step on the field I’m looking to defy gravity, so the thing is I don’t feel 38. I’m still playing football as good as anybody else out there so I’m just ready to keep going.”

“I’m just always ready. Just got to prepare every week like you’re going to play, like you’re going to be in the game and let the chips fall where they are.”

“Hopefully it’s motivating others that are creeping up there in age too. We’ve got some other defensive ends around the league creeping up there in age too so as long as they can get motivated to see that you can still perform at an older age and still be effective in games, that’s all that counts.”