The good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ 34-29 win over B.C.

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that the Riders are celebrating their biggest win of the season. Perhaps even their biggest in a couple of seasons.

Given the way things played out this week with Calgary, Hamilton, and Ottawa all losing, the Riders’ 34-29 win over the Lions could prove to be the turning point of the year for the Green and White.

There’s still a long way to go but the Riders have given themselves a little bit of breathing room for third place in the West. This could prove to be important with a couple of tough games coming up against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers — the team that has been their absolute nemesis since 2019.

Nothing is a sure thing in the CFL, but they needed this win badly and found a way to get it done.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ fifth win of the season.

The Good

After an ugly appearance last week in Montreal, the biggest (literally) question mark for the Riders coming into this game was quarterback Jake Dolegala.

The tall pivot had yet to make a start this season and when we had seen him outside of the pre-season, it wasn’t exactly pretty. I think it’s fair to say that expectations were low.

It’s also fair to say that Dolegala blew those expectations out of the water as the former Central Connecticut Blue Devil was 18-for-29 for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps most importantly, Dolegala avoided making the critical error and committed no turnovers.

The quarterback’s performance helped the Riders rush out to a 31-13 lead in the third quarter. Naturally, the win didn’t come easy for the team, and we’ll get into that. But Dolegala’s performance was certainly encouraging, especially when you consider how much Mason Fine struggled against this same defence.

Dolegala also got some help from his receivers, who made some big plays — something that has been missing from the Riders’ offence for the last couple of seasons. His biggest helper was Samuel Emilus who led the way with five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, including a couple of highlight-reel grabs where he went up and got it for his quarterback.

It appears that offensive coordinator Kelly Jeffrey may have learned something from Mason Fine’s first start of the season against these same Lions, as Dolegala appeared to have most of the offence available to him throughout the game.

The Bad

In the end, the Riders won but oh boy, did they almost blow it.

Before we get into what should have done the Riders in, we also have to give the Lions a lot of credit for clawing their way back into this game. After a rough first half, Vernon Adams Jr. and the Lions’ offence was clicking in the back half of this game. When they are on, there isn’t a more fun offence to watch in the CFL.

With the weapons at their disposal and a creative offensive play caller, the Lions are never out of any game, and that showed on Sunday night at Mosaic Stadium. The Lions even got the big break usually required to complete comebacks.

With 1:21 to go, the Riders were at their own 39-yard line when Dolegala failed to get the play off in time, leading to a delay of game penalty. Since it was after the three-minute warning, the penalty was a loss of down, meaning the Riders then had to punt and gave the Lions a real chance to win the game only down two.

Head coach Craig Dickenson was livid on the sidelines and perhaps he thought Dolegala got the play off in time. Maybe he did but it never should have gotten to that point. Something felt off leading to the snap and the bench boss should have called time out. He didn’t and it nearly cost his team dearly.

Luckily for Dickenson, the defence bailed him out by making the Lions go three-and-out with a turnover on downs. A steak dinner should probably be coming from the coach.

The Dumb 

Overall, this was a pretty well-played game by both teams. It probably ended with the score differential it deserved and unfortunately, that also means nothing too absurd happened.

So, we’ll do a little crossover episode here as the oddest thing of the night came via TSN when we were treated (?) to an interview with Save on Foods CEO Darrell Jones.

Jones has become very familiar to CFL fans in the last few years as his company has become a major sponsor of the CFL on TSN and the league. They were also the title sponsor of the game on Sunday evening.

Jones did the opening coin toss and he was apparently worth talking to later in the game. It was at least a short talk but it felt out of place even by in-game interview standards.

I guess his company is getting some play out of it, and I’m writing about it, so it worked.

I just hope groceries aren’t going up on Monday.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.