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Back and forth contest ends with Elks on top

Riders Postgame: Edmonton and quarterback Tre Ford always had an answer to the Riders’ scoring in a 36-27 win.
Tevin Jones had a touchdown, but the Riders simply didn’t score enough points this night against the Elks.

REGINA - On “Lights Out” night at Mosaic Stadium, it was quarterback Tre Ford and the Edmonton Elks who were lighting up the scoreboard in a 36-27 win.

Despite a solid Saskatchewan Roughriders effort on offence with another three-touchdown performance from quarterback Jake Dolegala, the Elks seemed to have an answer each time the Riders scored, coming back with their own lengthy drives to tie the game at 13-13, 20-20 and then 27-27.

Unfortunately for the Riders, they had no answer to either Ford or to the Elks run game the whole night, and especially bogged down in the fourth quarter which allowed Edmonton to take the lead. Then, any hope of a comeback was dashed when Dolegala was stopped in the end zone for a safety. 

That play prompted the 25,304 fans, the lowest home crowd of the season, to head straight for the exits. 

After last week’s humiliation to Winnipeg 51-6, and after two previous wins over Edmonton this season, this loss to the Elks was a bitter disappointment. Dolegala told reporters the mood in the locker room was “not good.”

“It feels worse than last week because of how close it was. We know we can beat this team… We need to flush it and move on. We’re still in this thing.”

“This one hurts,” said defensive lineman Lake Korte-Moore. “We battled through a lot today, but I guess now we’ve got to look at the film and go over it, learn from it and move on to the next. We’re still in the hunt. We have a big game against Ottawa next week and try and look forward to the game in Ottawa.”

The Riders have been battered and bruised all season and saw even more injuries in this game. Shawn Bane Jr. believed those were a key factor in the final result. 

“Oh for sure, especially on the d-line,” said Bane. “That’s one of the main factors, that’s really a strong suit of our team. Once one of those guys goes down — you can say ‘plug and play’, but you know, those guys are where they are for a reason.”

“That was a tough loss,” said Head Coach Craig Dickenson. “They are down, the coaches are down. But the sun will come up tomorrow."

"We are still in a position where we can control our fate for the most part, and we still feel good about the men in that room. They’re beat up mentally and physically after that game for sure, and I'm going to give them two full days off — hopefully we can get a few of these guys back. That was a tough loss and full marks to Edmonton for just plugging along and doing what they needed to do to win, and now the challenge is on us to get a little bit better and figure out ways to get some answers and try and play better down the stretch.”

Dickenson acknowledged that the club's inability to stop the run, both in this game and previously against Winnipeg, was a concern.

“We’ve got to stop the run and it’s just little things. Little things that we’ve been talking about. We’ve got to go back to basics, that’s probably going to be the message to the guys back to some of our training camp stuff, and we’ve got to start winning matchups. There’s a lot of adversity out there, we had a lot of guys playing in spots they are not used to playing. We just didn’t execute well enough to win.”

As for the character of the club, he said "we'll find out... I think we've got real good character in there, but we will find out more about them in the next few weeks."

The Riders now have dropped two in a row after starting the regular season winning six of the first 11 games. When one reporter suggested this was “eerily similar” to last year when they started 6-5 and then lost seven in a row, Dickenson said “I’ll stop you right there.”

“This season ain’t anything like last season. It’s not even close. The guys in that locker room are 100 times better — and I didn’t mind the guys we had last year, but the guys we have in that locker room are great dudes. And this season isn’t even comparison to last season. Better character, our work ethic’s better, we’re a better team than we were last year, the coaching staff is better than it was last year. I’ve gotten better than I was last year. This year’s fine. 

“Now, are we going to win more games than we did last year? I think we will. But we’ve got to get better, and we’ve got to put the work in, and I’m not worried about what’s going to happen four weeks from now. I’m worried about who’s healthy this week, who we’ve got going to Ottawa, and what I can do as a coach to help inspire, motivate, and get these guys playing in the right direction. This year‘s group is a good group, it’s much improved.”

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