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Saturday Challenge Flag- Riders home triumph in Week 5

Saturday Challenge Flag – 2 Challenges & some takeaways from the Riders WK 4
Saskatchewa Roughriders / Kevin Dunn

Thursday night’s victory by the Saskatchewan Roughriders was a telling tale of how the football club plans to play moving forward in 2024.

 The team displayed immense cohesion, stepping up for each other when it mattered most. None showcased this better than the Riders' swarming defense, which forced five turnovers, including a game-winning touchdown by Marcus Sayles in the 4th quarter. The defense played a crucial role, especially in the absence of field general Trevor Harris, exemplifying the “next man up” mentality that successful teams embody.

Rookie quarterback Shea Patterson made his first start and, although unspectacular at times, held his own. Despite initial jitters, he managed to lead the offense to some crucial scores, even diving across the goal line for a touchdown of his own. 

Injuries plagued the game, with three defensive linemen sidelined, forcing the remaining players to push through the second half shorthanded. The offensive line also faced a setback when starting left tackle Trevor Reid was injured, prompting Logan Ferland, a Melfort native, to step up admirably. Despite these challenges, every Rider contributed to secure another 1-0 week for Coach Mace’s squad.

Their locker room videos reveal a team not just playing for their coach but, more importantly, for each other.

Next, they face the B.C. Lions and Vernon Adams Jr. in a battle for early supremacy in the western division.

Clock Management to End the Half

 Corey Mace has found early success this season, but his inexperience was apparent at the end of the first half on Thursday. After turning the ball over with under a minute to play, the offense needed just one first down to reach field goal range. However, it seemed predetermined that they were settling for a field goal, with back-to-back running plays and no urgency to stop the clock. A costly offside penalty pushed Brett Lauther’s field goal attempt back to 57 yards, resulting in a doink off the crossbar. This penalty cost them three crucial points in a tight game. The final minutes were managed better, but an unnecessary handoff to A.J. Ouellette added risk in a victory that was already in hand.

Let Shea Patterson Play

It’s too early to fully gauge Shea Patterson’s potential in the CFL, but his first start showed he’s a fighter. After a tough opening quarter, he found his footing and led the Riders on an 80+ yard touchdown drive before halftime. This boosted his confidence, leading to more poised plays, including a crucial touchdown dive. His best moment came late in the game, with a risky but successful throw to Mitch Picton to seal the win. Patterson’s a young, confident gunslinger eager to make plays. In the coming weeks, Offensive Coordinator Marc Mueller should unleash Patterson, allowing him to energize the offense and take more shots downfield.

Roughriders' Defenders Dazzle: -

- As discussed in the opening, the defense stepped up in a big way to lead the shorthanded offence in creating a total of 5 turnovers and 2 sacks while pressuring the Argos QBs all night long.  Marcus Sayles had the highlight reel interception resulting in a pick 6 and go-ahead Touchdown.
- Roland Milligan once again led by example with two interceptions of his own to go along with 3 tackles, as he continues to show why he may be one of the best defenders in the CFL.
- The defensive front seven were also stout against the run, led by defensive tackles Micah Johnson, Anthony Lanier and tackling machine Jamerr Thurmon the group managed to keep their opponents under 100 yards rushing for the 4th consecutive week to open the season.
- Deonte Williams grabbed his first interception of the season while Johnson & Lanier also chipped in with a QB sack each

Offensive Support:

- On offence the Roughriders receivers continue to step up as a group, this week in absence of one of their top playmakers Shawn Bane Jr. Samuel Emilus recorded 3 catches for 54 yards, 1 spinarama and a Touchdown; Kian Schaffer-Baker lead the group with 4 catches for 43 yards; and of course the oft forgotten Mitchell Picton recorded 3 catches for 30 yards but the final two to held seal the victory for the green and white late in the 4th quarter.
- A.J. Ouellette continued to be the focal point of the offensive attack for the second week in a row, carrying the ball 18 times for 67 yards.  While he wasn’t spectacular his full speed battering ram running style is starting to show an identity for the offensive line.  Led by the always vocal JerMarcus Hardwick and underappreciated Logan Ferland we should continue to see this running attack ramp up in the upcoming weeks.