This game had huge implications for the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a win would secure a first place finish and a bye to the Western Final. For the Eskimos, it was about building momentum heading into the Eastern Semi Final next Sunday in Montreal. Things got interesting early in the week, when the media found out that Cody Fajardo had missed a couple of practices. Initial reports out of Regina downplayed the situation, but by the end of the week the Riders announced he would not be playing on Saturday. The Eskimos had already announced that Trevor Harris would not play this week and by the time the roster was submitted, Greg Ellingson, Ricky Collins Jr and C.J. Gable would also not play this week.
With a number of starters sitting out this week, it meant others would have to step and show what they can do. Chad Kilgore got his fifth start of the season would have another opportunity to show what he could do. Unfortunately, his performance in the first half was not a very good one. The Eskimo offence could only manage four first downs and failed to score any points! If there was a silver lining in the first 30 minutes, it was that the Roughriders only had a 10 point lead! Even though the Eskimos sat a number of starters, I expected a better effort from the team. Heading into the playoffs, the coaching staff certainly wanted a better showing than what they saw in the first 30 minutes,
The Eskimos got the ball to start the second half of the game and went into their bag of tricks on the first drive of the third quarter. DaVaris Daniels completed a 45 yard pass to Tevaun Smith to put the Eskimos inside the red zone at the Roughrider 14 yard line. On the very next play, Kilgore went right back to Smith for the teams first major of the game. The Eskimos gave up a safety later in the third quarter to make the score 12-6 but after taking the ensuing kickoff, William Powell fumbled on the first play and it was recovered by the Eskimos at the Rider 45 yard line. It only took the Eskimos four plays to find the end zone and take the lead 13-12 at the end of the third quarter.
Unfortunately, the Eskimos could not continue to build on the momentum they established in the third quarter. A single first down in the final 15 minutes and a couple of turnovers (INT for a TD and one on downs) sealed their fate in this game. The Eskimos finished the season with an 8-10 record after starting 6-3 but still managed to make the post season because three other teams were much worse! While everyone says once the playoffs start, it is a brand new season! While there is some truth to that, I do not expect much from this year’s team. There are too many question marks and while they could win one game, I am afraid it may keep the changes that need to be made from happening. It is going to be yet another interesting off season…