REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders' 28-13 win over the visiting Ottawa Redblacks ended on a sour note Friday.
Roughrider defensive lineman Garrett Marino was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter after diving into the legs of Redblacks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli as he threw a pass, which left Masoli writhing in pain on the turf.
Marino flexed his muscles and gestured to the Mosaic Stadium crowd in celebration as he left the field following the hit. Several infuriated Redblacks players went to Saskatchewan's sideline to confront him.
Marino continued to inflame the situation after his ejection as he lifted his helmet to the crowd and pounded his chest as he headed to the locker room.
Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson admitted Marino’s actions cast a pall over the victory.
“After the game I talked to the guys for about three minutes, told them the schedule, didn't hand out game balls, didn't do anything that I normally do because we played a great football game and I've been here three minutes and this is all we're talking about and I'll continue to talk about this for probably 10 more minutes,” Dickenson said.
“It didn't need to happen, so yeah, I'm disappointed in the team. Do I still love them? Yes, I love each and every one of them. They're still part of this team and we're going to move forward, but it was a chance to win with class. That’s not the way I want to see us games.”
Saskatchewan receiver Duke Williams felt torn between loyalty to his teammate and empathy for Masoli.
“We ’re better than that . . . I’m not saying it's a good play, because Masoli got hurt and that’s unacceptable," Williams said.
"We don't condone that, he’s got to go back home to his family. But at the end of the day, that's my teammate and I’ve got his back no matter what.
“I'm going tell him right from wrong because that's my job.”
Ottawa offensive lineman Dino Boyd sidelining Saskatchewan defensive lineman Pete Robertson with a questionable hit in the third quarter ignited tension between the two clubs.
Boyd was penalized for roughing on the play. Robertson, who leads the CFL with seven sacks, didn't return to the game.
Dickenson didn’t have a confirmed diagnosis on Robertson’s injury, but there were indications he may have a broken foot.
The Redblacks didn't provide an update on Masoli. The quarterback left the stadium on crutches.
Saskatchewan (4-1) played its most complete game so far this season. The 'Riders scored 19 second-quarter points to take control of the game and hold the Redblacks winless in their four games this season.
Ottawa lost their first three games of the season by a combined margin of 12 points, but they struggled to keep pace with the Roughriders.
Saskatchewan led 22-6 at the half but Ottawa opened the third quarter with a touchdown to narrow the gap to 22-13.
The Roughriders countered with a major, which quarterback Cody Fajardo felt was the difference in the game.
“You never want to lose the momentum and that's something that can happen, especially when we felt like we had all the momentum from the second quarter,” said Fajardo.
“You go into halftime and you kind of lose that right? It's almost like the game starts over. So they go down they score and we felt like as an offence we had to go down and score. I was really proud of the way we executed and responded.”
Fajardo threw touchdown passes to Williams and Kian Schaffer-Baker, while rookie running back Frankie Hickson scored his first CFL touchdown on an electrifying 63-yard run.
Hickson, who generated 92 yards rushing on five carries, entered the game with 124 yards on 21 carries. His longest run before Friday’s 63-yarder was a 19-yard gain.
Saskatchewan's passing attack was boosted by running back Jamal Morrow, who caught six balls for 67 yards. He also rushed for 78 yards on 16 carries.
Kicker Brett Lauther added field goals of 50, 28 and 18 yards for Saskatchewan.
A.C. Leonard and Keion Adams sacked Masoli, Nick Marshall and Larry Dean had interceptions.
Nate Behar scored Ottawa's lone touchdown catching a 22-yard pass from Masoli. Kicker Lewis Ward scored field goals from 42 and 21 yards.
Praise Martin-Oguike, Lorenzo Mauldin, Tre Hornbuckle and Davon Coleman registered sacks for Ottawa.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2022.
Jeff DeDekker, The Canadian Press