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Ticats feast on the Roughriders

Riders Postgame: Saskatchewan Roughriders embarrassed on Legends Night by Hamilton for fifth loss in a row
A despondent Craig Dickenson speaks to the media following the Riders loss to Hamilton Oct. 7.

REGINA - Instead of a legendary performance against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday night, the Saskatchewan Roughriders served up a good old-fashioned turkey just in time for Thanksgiving.

“I did not see that coming at all,” said a despondent-looking Head Coach Craig Dickenson following a 38-13 Hamilton beatdown of the Roughriders in front a stunned audience at Mosaic Stadium.

“I told the team in there, I said ‘I don’t have a lot of words for you,’ because never in a million years did I think we’d go out there with all the things that we have to play for — playoffs, honouring George Reed and the family, the ‘13 team… and just the intrinsic motivation of going out there and doing what we love to do. I just did not see that coming. Very disappointed, I’m embarrassed. I felt like that’s embarrassing when you lose like that at home when you’ve got so much to play for. So, I didn’t say a lot to them, but I did tell them we’re going to go back and go to work because that’s what we do.“

As for what was lacking, he said “everything.” He pointed to “chunk plays” and the team not being physical enough. He also admitted the team hadn’t been the same since the Winnipeg 51-6 Banjo Bowl game — that it may have hurt the team’s confidence.

“Tough loss. Probably the low point of my time here. I’m shocked by it.”

What was more shocking was that the colossal defeat came on the day proclaimed by the province as "George Reed Day" in memory of the legendary Roughriders running back who died earlier this week. Prior to the game was a stirring tribute to Reed, with members of Reed's family shown in his familiar section 34 where he would regularly watch the games. 

Halftime also saw the tribute to the 2013 Grey Cup-winning Roughriders, with quarterback Darian Durant eventually ending up making his way around the stadium afterwards to sign autographs. 

Unfortunately, Roughriders highlights on the night mainly remained off the field. The ‘Riders went down early and often in the first half as Hamilton scored first and racked up a 22-2 lead. The Ticats got off to a good start on the strength of the return of quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell who played the first quarter and led them to the opening touchdown. The only touchdown of the game for the Riders did not come in the final minute before halftime from running back Jamal Morrow, who, like Reed, is an alumna of Washington State. 

Prior to the game, Morrow was selected to carry the flag honouring #34 George Reed to lead the team onto the field. The performance on the field that night took a lot of the lustre off of that moment, as Morrow said he was “disgusted” with the showing.

“That’s disappointing,” Morrow said after the game. “Disgusted, and it’s just not what we want to do and it’s just terrible. Just flat out there —  it’s something we need to improve on.”

As for what needed to change, Morrow pointed to the need to “just play better, a change in attitude, a change in swagger. That’s just something that needs to change immediately.”

With the game out of reach Riders quarterback Jake Dolegala was pulled for Mason Fine, who didn’t do much better. 

“We didn’t have a great start, didn’t have a great middle, didn’t have a great end. It was not a good showing whatsoever,” said Dolegala.

As for what’s next, he said they needed to “take a good look in the mirror. At this point we’ve got to get better individually, and as a team. Our focus is on Calgary now and we’ve just got to win it. That’s it.”

The loss marked the fifth in a row for Saskatchewan, dropping the Roughriders to 6-10. With only two games left on the schedule the Riders head to Calgary next week for an all-important game against the Stampeders that could determine if they even make the playoffs.