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The regular season is over and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are crossing the finish line with a four game losing streak attached to their backs.
The green-and-white could not get it done with a bunch of second stringers on offence as they were beaten 17-6 by the B.C Lions in what was the last regular season game of the 2012 season for both and was a game that was meaningless in the standings. It showed.
Both teams did not have an urgency to their game as they looked ahead on the road to the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto in a few weeks time.
“Glad it’s over with and it’s time to move on to the playoffs.” Head coach Corey Chamblin said at game’s end. “We were able to see some good things out there from some guys. We didn’t go out there with a full deck, but we found out some things tonight and we will be able to identify some key roster changes and backups going into the playoffs.”
Chamblin was extremely happy with the way his defense played as with the exception of one drive they shut down B.C quarterback Travis Lulay who started and had a mindset to not take his foot off the gas pedal.
“Travis did start and I thought our defense did a good job in controlling what he wanted to do.” Chamblin told 620 CKRM’s Carm Carteri. The same goes for the other two quarterbacks they used. Yes, we didn’t get a lot done on offense, but the defence came back after some tough outings and held a very tough football team in check.”
Defensive lineman Keith Shologan was one regular starter who did play. He wasn’t happy with the fact the team goes into the playoffs having lost four in a row, but he is happy with the way the defence came through in limiting the Lions to 17 points
“We didn’t play a lot of our offensive starters, but on defense we played a lot of our guys and with the exception of one bad play (a 20 yard Andrew Harris touchdown run) at the end of the first quarter, we played a pretty good football game against a very good offense.”
Drew Willy struggled in his 2nd career start as he could only muster 5 yards of total offence in the first quarter going against a defense that is the best in the league. One bright spot to the offence was the play of running back Brandon West. He doesn’t care if the roster wasn’t the regular one, he was still steamed to leave B.C Place on the losing end of things.
“I know we are going to the playoffs, but I’m still upset that we lost tonight.” Wes t said. “I always go on to the field wanting to walk off with a “W”. It upsets me to lose this game tonight, but its go time now. There’s no looking back now. It’s time to start getting refocused and have a long playoff run because it’s a long off-season and no one wants to go home.”
It is playoff time now and there is a genuine excitement in the dressing room about how this team can perform even though the season didn’t end the way they wanted it to. Shologan believes his team can get it done and turn it around.
“We’ve had some ups and downs this year, but I think we’re in a good position right now even though the last four games might not indicate that,” Shologan insisted. “We know that in the playoffs anything can happen. When we won the Grey Cup in 2007, we were a 3rd place team and that is the spot we are in right now. We are confident we can go into Calgary and play a great game and that if things go right we can be back here in a couple of weeks.”
The Riders will play in Calgary on Remembrance Day in the Western semi-final. Game time at MacMahon Stadium will be 2:30 Saskatchewan time.
• Is it a good omen? The Riders lost their last regular season game in both 1989 and 2007, but went on to win the Grey Cup in both seasons.
• J-T O’Sullivan got his first action of the season as he played the 2nd half at quarterback for the Riders. It is the 13th different pro football team that he has thrown a pass for.
• After being unable to conquer a Western rival in 2011, the Riders finished the 2012 season with a 4-6 record against the West in 2012.