July 29, 2023

Numbers are for naught as Argonauts defeat Roughriders 31-13 in Touchdown Atlantic

The comparative numbers jump off the stats sheet. 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders amassed 402 passing yards during Saturday’s CFL game against the victorious Toronto Argonauts at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. 

Toronto, by contrast, was limited to 122 yards through the air. 

In terms of total offence, Saskatchewan’s 422 yards more than doubled Toronto’s amount (200). 

First downs-wise, it was 22-13 in favour of Saskatchewan, which was also ahead in time of possession (32:24). 

The score, however, was 31-13 for the Argonauts, who prevailed in Touchdown Atlantic before a sellout crowd of 11,555 at Huskies Stadium. 

“You can have all the yards in the world, but you’ve got to finish when you’re down in the red zone,” Roughriders quarterback Mason Fine said. “You’ve got to move the chains once you’re in the fringe area. 

“So the yards show that we’re a little bit on the verge, but you’ve got to look at the scoreboard at the end of the day and see if you won or lost and see if you put points up. 

“You’ve got to score more points than your opponent. If you’re not doing that, it doesn’t matter how many yards you’ve got.” 

Fine, making his second start of the season in place of the injured Trevor Harris, completed 27 of 39 passes for a career-high 302 yards, but was intercepted twice as Saskatchewan’s record dropped to 3-4. 

The first pick, by Robertson Daniel, was returned to the Roughriders’ 26-yard line. Five plays later, Toronto scored its only offensive touchdown — on a two-yard pass from Chad Kelly to Dejon Brissett. 

The second interception off Fine was returned 58 yards for a touchdown by DaShaun Amos with 3:13 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Argonauts already comfortably ahead. 

Toronto (6-0) reached the end zone in all three phases of the game. The Argonauts’ first major was courtesy of a 71-yard punt return by Javon Leake. 

So, in the final analysis, the Argonauts’ points total obscured a second straight stellar showing for the Saskatchewan defence, which had also sparkled one week earlier in a 19-9 loss to the B.C. Lions in Vancouver. 

“The defence kept us in this game,” Roughriders Head Coach Craig Dickenson said. “They did a nice job.” 

And the offence showed flashes, but struggled to finish or extend drives in Toronto territory. 

On the first offensive series of the game, for example, Fine started off by finding Shawn Bane Jr. for gains of 14 and nine. The latter completion put Toronto’s defence in a second-and-one predicament. 

Fine then handed off to Jamal Morrow, who was trapped for a loss of three on the Argos’ 54-yard line. The ensuing 44-yard punt by Adam Korsak was returned 49 yards by Leake to set up the first score of the game — a 38-yard field goal by Boris Bede. 

Late in the first half, two more bang-bang completions by Fine — for 14 yards to Bane Jr. and 21 to Tevin Jones — put Saskatchewan a first-and-goal situation on Toronto’s two-yard line. The Argos forced and recovered a fumble by Morrow on the next play. 

With Toronto leading 21-3 early in the fourth quarter, Saskatchewan gambled on third-and-goal from the 15-yard line. Fine and Brayden Lenius barely missed connecting in the end zone. 

The Roughriders did reach the end zone with 1:57 left when Jake Dolegala found Bane Jr. on a picturesque pitch-and-catch for a 31-yard major. 

Dolegala briskly completed four of five passes for 100 yards after entering the game for what proved to be Saskatchewan’s final offensive series. 

“I just wanted to see Jake,” Dickenson said. “Jake has played a lot of football and worked really hard. I felt like Jake deserved some reps. 

“It wasn’t like Mason wasn’t moving the football. I was happy with the way he played that last quarter, but I just wanted to see Jake get some reps. And I felt like the game was, in theory, a little bit out of reach at that point.” 

Dickenson indicated that Fine will start on Aug. 6 against the Ottawa REDBLACKS (5 p.m., Mosaic Stadium). 

The quarterbacks’ busiest targets in Halifax were Bane Jr. (who caught 10 passes for 144 yards and scored his first TD as a Roughrider), Jones (nine receptions for 133 yards) and Samuel Emilus (five for 91). 

Saskatchewan’s Brett Lauther kicked field goals of 39 and 44 yards while returning to the stadium where he played U Sports football for the Saint Mary’s Huskies from 2009 to 2012. 


  • Lauther is 15-for-19 on field-goal attempts this season after connecting on five in a row.
  •  Defensively, the Roughriders were led by Derrick Moncrief (six tackles, one pass knockdown), Micah Teitz (six tackles, two of which were for a loss), Pete Robertson (five tackles, one sack, one pass knockdown) and Nic Marshall (with his third interception of the season).
  • With three defensive tackles, middle linebacker Larry Dean fattened his career total to 511 and moved into a tie with Michael Fletcher for the 37th-best total in CFL history. Ex-Roughrider Reggie Hunt is 36th, just two tackles ahead of Dean.
  • Bane Jr. has had back-to-back 10-catch games. In seven games this season, he has caught 41 passes for 527 yards. Jones has 37 receptions for 548 yards in six games.