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Roughriders Recap Week 1: Saskatchewan 29, Edmonton 21

If that’s a sign of how every Roughriders game will go, then strap in ladies and gentlemen for a wild 2024 campaign.

In the season opener, the Saskatchewan Roughriders took down the Edmonton Elks 29-21 at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was a penalty-filled, chippy hard-nosed football game that saw fireworks in the fourth quarter. Saskatchewan trailed 18-8, and starting with the ball in the final frame was Edmonton thanks to a Trevor Harris interception. The Green and White’s defence would bend but would not break, however, only allowing a Boris Bede field goal to extend the Elks lead to 21-8.

Then, all hell broke loose.

On the ensuing drive, Harris would put together a masterful march that culminated in Shawn Bane Jr. finding the endzone to cut the lead to five. On defence, Deontai Williams would punch out the ball on Edmonton’s first play from scrimmage, giving Sask the rock right back. Three plays later, A.J. Ouellette found himself celebrating a touchdown in the endzone, with the Riders suddenly in the lead 22-21. The next possesion for the Elks would led to a solid drive, but this time Bede would not make the field goal keeping the Rider lead at one. Sask would be forced to punt on the next drive, but it would all work itself out on defence with a strip sack by Bryan Cox Jr. That would set up the third Roughrider touchdown in the fourth making it 29-21, as Saskatchewan outscored Edmonton 21-3 in the fourth quarter.

Whew, what a game.

Third Time’s The Charm

After a couple of drops and only one catch in the first half, it was looking like it was going to be a relatively quiet game for Shawn Bane Jr.

That couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Behind a second-half explosion, the 29-year-old would finish with five catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 178-pound target became only the third Riders receiver since 2010 to snag three TD’s in a regular season game, joining Weston Dressler in 2012 and Sam Emilus last year.

It was a great start to the campaign for Bane Jr. who is off to a blistering start following his 1100-yard breakout season in 2023.

Hello Harris

After a somewhat shaky first half, Trevor Harris improved as the game went along. The 38-year-old completed 22 of 31 passes for 305 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He was on point with a majority of his throws with his one and only pick occurring because Kian Schaffer-Baker stumbled on his break.

Harris was the catalyst to Riders fourth-quarter comeback, hitting 30,000 career passing yards along the way

Williams Was Let Wild

One of the best if not the best player on the Green and White’s defence was Deontai Williams. The corner was all over the place making five tackles, four tackles for loss, and forcing a crucial fumble to help secure the comeback.

The 27-year-old had a pair of huge tackles for loss and seems to be an answer at the corner position.

Penalties, Penalties, and More Penalties

One of the keys in camp for new head coach Corey Mace was to limit penalties, especially misconduct fouls as Saskatchewan has been one of the most penalized teams over the last couple of years.

Looks like there is still work to be done.

Trevor Reid and Jayden Dalke both received unnecessary roughness penalties, while reigning Riders nominee for most outstanding lineman Logan Ferland was ejected for taking a swing at his opposition. A flag for an illegal block even took points off the board, with Mario Alford returning one to the crib that was called back.

Saskatchewan would only take one penalty in the second half, however, but would still end the day with six penalties costing them 84 yards, which doesn’t include the lost yards on the Alford return.

On The Fence About The O-Line

It was an interesting afternoon for the big boys up front. With Ferland being tossed early, Ryan Sceviour was forced into action at right guard early.

In pass protection the hogs were fantastic. They only allowed two sacks, with one being a mauling of Sceviour by Robert Nkemdiche before he got settled into the game. They gave Harris a great pocket nearly every passing play, which is encouraging as that was a weakness last season.

The line wasn’t the best in the running game, however. The unit regularly wasn’t getting enough push and A.J. Ouellette only ran for 40 yards avaeraging under two yards per carry.

The Roughriders will look to remain undefeated against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in week two when Saskatchewan wraps up their road trip with a visit to Tim Horton’s Field.

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Coty Wiles
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