An emotional rollercoaster for the Saskatchewan Roughriders concluded Saturday night when a 50-yard field goal by Rene Paredes on the final play gave the Calgary Stampeders a 33-31 CFL victory at Mosaic Stadium.
Saskatchewan had assumed a 31-30 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when Brett Lauther converted a 69-yard touchdown bomb from Mason Fine — who had entered the game after an injury to Trevor Harris — to Tevin Jones.
Jones caught a desperation pass on third-and-24 and found a path to pay dirt to enliven a crowd of 28,842.
However, Calgary moved 30 yards in four plays before Paredes settled matters as time expired.
Fine threw two touchdown passes after Harris suffered an injury to his right leg and was taken off the field on a cart six minutes into the fourth quarter.
“I just want to start off by saying ‘keep Trevor and his family in your prayers,’ ” Fine said to begin his post-game media conference.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, Roughriders Head Coach Craig Dickenson did not have a definitive diagnosis as to the nature and extent of the injury to Harris.
“Certainly, it did not look good on the field and I know he’s in a lot of pain,” Dickenson said. “We’ll keep him in our thoughts and hopefully it’s not as bad as it looked.”
Calgary assumed a 27-17 lead not long after Harris was taken to the locker room, but the reliably resilient Roughriders battled back and eventually went ahead by a point.
Cue the timely contributions by Parades and quarterback Jake Maier, whose clutch performances helped Calgary improve its record to 2-3. Saskatchewan emerged at 3-2.
The Roughriders opened the scoring at 4:57 of the first quarter when Mario Alford scored on a 67-yard punt return. Lauther added the convert.
Calgary countered late in the first quarter with a 28-yard field goal by Paredes.
A 36-yard Lauther field goal at 3:03 of the second quarter restored the Roughriders’ seven-point lead.
Paredes connected from 51 yards away five minutes into the second frame to reduce Saskatchewan’s advantage to 10-6.
Calgary went ahead 13-10 when Paredes converted a seven-yard touchdown pass from Maier to Tommylee Lewis, who was playing in his first CFL game.
Following a Roughriders fumble, Calgary struck again, with Maier finding Luther Hakunavanhu for a 16-yard major with four seconds left in the first half. Paredes’ convert made the halftime score 20-10, Calgary.
Alford struck again at 6:51 of the third quarter, taking a punt return 94 yards to become the Roughriders’ all-time leader in return TDs (six).
He had been tied with Corey Holmes (in terms of regular-season return TDs) and Curtis Mayfield (overall return TDs, playoffs included).
Alford became the first Roughrider with two punt-return touchdowns in a game since Mayfield, who accomplished the feat against the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sept. 5, 1999.
Harris was hurt six minutes into the third quarter while battling for first-down yardage on a run that gained 17 yards.
That possession concluded with a 54-yard field goal-attempt by Lauther, whose wide kick was retrieved by Clark Barnes and returned 86 yards, to the Roughriders’ 24-yard line.
Calgary soon scored on a three-yard run by Dedrick Mills. The convert by Parades put Calgary up 27-17.
The Roughriders responded with a six-yard TD pass from Fine to Jamal Morrow, who scored with 2:45 left in the fourth frame. Lauther’s convert made it 27-24, Calgary.
A 34-yard field goal by Paredes gave the Stampeders a 30-24 lead with 1:35 remaining — an eternity in the CFL, as evidenced by the 10 points that had yet to be scored.
It was the fourth time in five games this season that a Roughriders game had been decided on the final play or in the waning seconds.
EXTRA POINTS: Roughriders middle linebacker Larry Dean registered his 500th career defensive tackle, becoming the 41st CFLer to reach that milestone. Dean had five tackles on Saturday, increasing his career total to 502 … The Roughriders’ Deontai Williams made his first CFL interception … Pete Robertson had six defensive tackles for the Roughriders in addition to posting their only quarterback sack. Calgary registered seven sacks … Fine was 6-for-8 for 122 yards and two TDs. Harris was 16-for-22 for 115 yards. Maier went 27-for-36 for 315 yards … The Roughriders’ leading receivers were Morrow (eight catches for 69 yards) and Jones (three for 84) … Alford returned seven punts for 184 yards … Saskatchewan’s Adam Korsak averaged 52 yards on six punts … Next up for the Roughriders is a July 22 game against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver.