Kory Sheets runs over Lions in triumphant return to the Riders’ lineup

55 Yard Line
Kory Sheets (The Canadian Press)
Kory Sheets (The Canadian Press)

It turns out the cure to the Saskatchewan Roughriders' four-game losing streak was simple: get Kory Sheets back. Sheets was hurt early on three weeks ago, and in his absence, the Riders went from having the league's strongest rushing attack to having one of its worst. The passing game also became ineffective without the threat of the run to draw defenders. With Sheets back Saturday night in B.C., though, the Riders seemed to find their offensive form of old, and they were able to beard the CFL's best defence (by yards allowed) in its den. Saskatchewan beat the Lions 31-17, improving to 9-5 with the victory (and tying B.C. for second place in the West in the process), and much of that was thanks to Sheets.

Of course, the Riders' dominance didn't come instantly. The Lions actually controlled this one early on, and they led 3-0 after the first quarter. After that, though, it was all Saskatchewan; they outscored B.C. 16-0 in the second quarter and hung on effectively from there. Much of that was thanks to Sheets, who collected 80 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries (5.7 yards per carry). With the ground game clicking, though, that opened up space for the passing attack; Darian Durant completed 21 of 31 passing attempts (67.8 per cent) for 234 yards and a touchdown. The Riders' offence looked like its old self, and that's impressive on the road against one of the league's top defensive units.

The Saskatchewan defence also came through in a big way Saturday, though. They picked off B.C. quarterback Thomas DeMarco three times and held him to 19 completions on 36 attempts (52.8 per cent). They also shut down running back Andrew Harris, who collected just 10 yards on six carries (an average of just 1.7 yards per carry). That gets even worse when you consider he had a longest carry of nine yards: on the rest of the night, Harris collected one yard on five carries. The Lions' best offence on the evening might have come from an unusual play utilizing wide receiver Korey Williams as a rusher, which collected 41 yards. Apart from that, they didn't do all that much.

With the victory, the Riders are now in solid position to challenge B.C. for the West's second playoff berth. The teams are tied at 9-5, and they've split the season series 1-1 thus far, meaning that the tiebreaker will go to whoever wins the rubber match October 19. That game takes place in Saskatchewan, though, which could be a useful home-field advantage for the Riders. Moreover, they have two games remaining against last-place Edmonton, while B.C. only has one of those (and two against first-place Calgary). However, the Lions are still in that race, and either team could also challenge the 10-3 Stampeders for first. The Riders' victory Saturday keeps the race for West Division playoff positioning firmly alive, and it should come down to a fascinating finish.

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