MONTREAL — Mother Nature made CFL history Friday night.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Montreal Alouettes 17-10 in the first-ever CFL contest called off early because of inclement weather at Molson Stadium.
"That's the first time that's ever happened to me in my career," Roughriders defensive end Charleston Hughes said. "I'll take it."
Officials called the game on account of lightning in the area following an hour-long delay with 2:41 left in the third quarter. CFL games can be called following a 60-minute delay if the match was stopped past the midway point of the third quarter.
The current weather protocol was negotiated into the CFL and CFL Players' Association collective bargaining agreement this spring.
"We knew what the circumstances were if they would've cancelled the game," Alouettes returner Shakeir Ryan said. "We would've taken the loss. We were anxious to get back out there on the field. We all wanted to go back out there and play and finish the game.
"At least let us decide the end of the game, not the weather."
Both teams entered the game having won three out of their last four games, and Friday night's win pushed Saskatchewan's winning streak to four games. The Roughriders enter their bye week at 5-3, while the Alouettes are 3-4.
"We are starting to come together as a team," Riders linebacker Solomon Eliminian said. "We started to understand our identity as a team."
Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo threw for 166 yards in the victory, while Als quarterbacks Antonio Pipkin and Matthew Shiltz combined for nine completed passes and 90 yards passing.
"We lost the game, not happy about it," Shiltz said. "Short, but wished we could've kept on playing. At the end of the day, we didn't win the game. We need to be better on offence."
No offensive touchdowns were scored in the game. The first major of the match came from special teams. Following a Jon Ryan punt, Ryan brought the ball back 101 yards on his first touch of the game.
"That was one of the easiest returns I think I ever had in my career of playing," Ryan said.
However, kicker Boris Bede failed to convert the point after, keeping the game at 6-0.
Saskatchewan's first points of the night came from the defensive side, thanks in part to linebacker Derrick Moncrief and defensive lineman Earl Okine.
Moncrief sacked Pipkin and forced a fumble, and Okine was there to scoop up the ball and return it for a 55-yard score. Kicker Gabriel Ferraro converted the point after, giving his team a 7-6 lead.
A Bede single made it 7-7 after one quarter of play.
Ferraro gave the Riders a 10-7 lead minutes into the second with a 28-yard field goal. Als head coach Khari Jones decided he had seen enough of Pipkin after one quarter of play, and pulled him in favour of Shiltz when his team returned to the field.
"I played bad football," said Pipkin, who started in place of the injured Vernon Adams Jr. (concussion). "I've got to clean that stuff up. I can't do that. That's pretty much what it is."
Shiltz's first drive ended with a Bede field goal, tying the game at 10-10. But Shiltz would also fall victim to a sack and fumble later in the quarter, resulting in a 45-yard return from Hughes. The Roughriders missed the extra point, making it 16-10.
The Riders notched a single with a little over nine minutes left in the third quarter, extending their lead to seven points for what turned out to be the final scoring play of the game.
NOTES: The 1962 Grey Cup in Toronto was suspended because of fog, but it was completed the next day... A WIFU game on Oct. 25, 1954 in Vancouver between the B.C. Lions and Roughriders was called with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter. Saskatchewan benefited from that decision as well, winning 15-9. The WIFU was one of the leagues that would eventually be merged into the CFL. ... Announced attendance Friday was 16,580.
Julian McKenzie, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: ADDS note on pre-CFL game called due to fog