The Saskatchewan Roughriders played better against the Calgary Stampeders on Oct. 23 and deserved victory.
It is the first time Craig Dickenson has defeated his brother, Calgary Head Coach Dave Dickenson. Discussing the victory after the game, he joked that he was glad that with the victory he will be able to move up from the kiddie table to the adult table at family Christmas supper.
The Rider changes to their lineup paid immediate dividends.
Adding Duke Williams and Shaq Evans as receivers gave the Riders a dependable pair of veteran receivers. Cody Fajardo has described the offence as being out of sync. With Williams and Evans they were far more in sync.
On the defence Jeremy Clark and Damon Webb started as defensive backs and Jacob Dearborn played significantly. With each getting an interception it was a great night for the young defenders.
Dearborn said it reminded him of his first game in CIS football with Carleton University in Ottawa. He had three interceptions in his university debut. On Saturday night he also recovered a muffed kickoff. Dearborn had the widest possible smile after the game. It was nice to see Rider players smiling again.
As so often in Rider games, the game was decided in the final minutes.
Late in the fourth quarter with the Riders third and goal at the Stampeder three-yard line, Dickenson went for the touchdown. He said he had told offensive co-ordinator Jason Maas that if the Riders were inside the five they would go for it on third down. He said he knew Calgary would score late in the game and the risk / reward was in the Riders favour. Two weeks earlier he had regretted not going on third down late in the game. I was glad he went for the touchdown this Saturday.
On the previous play Fajardo showed maturity. He wanted to go to Brayden Lenius on a route with a double move but the pressure was too great and he could not see Lenius. Not wanting to risk an interception when the Riders could kick a field goal he threw out of bounds. He said he did not know they would be going on third down.
On the third down, the Riders had a nice out to Kyran Moore. It was executed perfectly. Fajardo said they had repped the play many times and used it successfully for a touchdown earlier in the season.
While Fajardo thought the touchdown was the game defining moment I thought it was the Rider stop of the Stampeders on the next series on third and two when they forced Bo Levi Mitchell, who was trying to pass, to try to run with the ball. The play brought me out of my chair.
Dickenson said it was a big stop. The Riders wanted the ball last and the turnover gave them that opportunity.
However, in classic Rider fashion they found a strange way to return the ball. On the second down Fajardo took too long and the Riders incurred a time-count violation and loss of down.
Fajardo said it was a play discussed on the sidelines and guys had questions on the field and he lost sight of the time clock.
Dickenson said he will make sure that penalty does not happen again. He could see Fajardo was pre-occupied but he did not want to use his timeout as he thought Fajardo would get the ball snapped with one second on the time clock. Fajardo was a second longer and there was a penalty.
I wish Dickenson had used the timeout. The odds favoured a timeout to save the down and keep the clock going for two plays and the time between the second and third down. Hoping Fajardo would get the ball snapped with a second to go was a grave risk.
Overall, the Riders made good decisions, were more disciplined and looked like a team building momentum.