July 7, 2024

Patterson-Picton pairing produced pivotal passing plays

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will soon head west with PST — Picton Standard Time — on their side.

Mitch Picton lived up to his reputation as a clutch player by making two crucial fourth-quarter catches in Thursday’s 30-23 CFL victory over the Toronto Argonauts at Mosaic Stadium.

On two successive second-and-long plays, Shea Patterson found Picton for a 12-yard completion to help the Roughriders extinguish the clock late in the game.

“I told Mitch before that drive, and really before the fourth quarter: ‘It’s Fourth-Quarter Mitch Time,’ ” Patterson said.

FQMT was in effect on June 18, 2022, when Picton caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Cody Fajardo at 11:04 of the fourth quarter to snap a 16-16 tie with the Edmonton Elks. Picton added the two-point convert as the visitors went on to win 26-16 at Commonwealth Stadium.

On June 2, 2023, Picton caught back-to-back fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Mason Fine at Mosaic Stadium as the Roughriders rallied from a 27-17 deficit and registered a 30-27 pre-season victory over the B.C. Lions — who are to play host to the Roughriders on Saturday night.

On July 6 of last year, Edmonton led 11-3 at Mosaic Stadium before Trevor Harris threw a four-yard TD pass to Picton at 13:56 of the final frame. A pass from Harris to Kendall Watson generated two more points and created an 11-11 tie. Brett Lauther registered a rouge on the ensuing kickoff to give the Roughriders a 12-11 victory.

The Regina-born Picton continued to make pivotal plays on Thursday, when all three of his receptions moved the chains.

Picton’s first catch, for a six-yard gain on second-and-four, was part of an eight-play, 94-yard trek that culminated in the Roughriders’ first touchdown.

Most of the post-game chatter, though, pertained to the final two grabs.

After a running play did not generate a yard, Toronto called a timeout with 1:47 remaining in the fourth quarter. Patterson then threw wide to the left to Picton, who made the catch on the 19-yard line — six yards beyond the line of scrimmage — and charged ahead for another six.

With a fresh set of downs, Saskatchewan handed off for a gain of two.

Patterson then scrambled out of the pocket, rolled to his right, and threw across the grain to a wide-open Picton. He caught the ball and hit the turf with just under a minute left to effectively seal the outcome.

“Huge plays,” Head Coach Corey Mace said. “We keep talking about the receiving room and Mitch is obviously in that conversation. Those were big catches to help us move the sticks and win the game for us.”

Mace also credited Patterson for going through his progressions and finding the open receiver. A comparable assessment was provided by Picton.

“Late in the game, we need to run out the clock and it’s second-and-long,” the former LeBoldus Golden Suns and University of Regina Rams standout said. “Two times he has the poise and composure to sit back there and make the right reads and deliver a strike.

“We’ve got all the confidence in the world in Shea. It’s a ton of fun being out there. I’m just proud of these guys.”

Picton could have also taken a moment to applaud himself, but he is resolutely opposed to self-congratulation.

“It feels good whenever you can contribute to a win,” he said. “But, really, it’s just 12 guys out there doing their job, right? We’re paid to catch the football and, when it comes our way, it’s time to make a play.”