Two costly errors early in Thursday night’s season opener likely lost the Roughriders the game against the visiting Toronto Argonauts.
First, a breakdown on special teams allowed Larry Taylor to get the ball back to the Rider six yard line. Ricky Ray took advantage on the next play getting the ball in the hand of Andre Durie for the touchdown.
Next, the defence was fooled by a pump fake allowing Ray to connect with Vidal Hazelton for a 52 yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“We had some misfortunes (and ) they capitalized,” Darian Durant said after the game. “But as a whole and as a unit we have to do better.”
The final score was 30-17.
Darian Durant, returning for the first time since he ruptured his Achilles, threw just one touchdown to John Chiles, but went 31 for 48 for 310 yards. He threw no interceptions, but there were some close calls.
“I have to make sure my eyes are in the right place at all times. They got their hands on too many footballs out there,” he said. “We just got to cut down on the mistakes.
Mistakes like the inability to convert in the red zone. Despite numerous chances, the Roughriders struggled to find the end zone for most of the game.
“For us offensively, we have to finish drives,” said sophomore receiver Naaman Roosevelt. “We got to get better.”
Though for Roosevelt himself, it would be hard to get much better. He was a highlight in an offensive still getting comfortable with each other. Durant hit him 9 times for 113 yards, more than any other receiver.
“Us as a unit is still a work in progress,” Durant admitted. “We still have to gel in certain areas.”
But he’s encouraged going forward, saying he has no doubt the team will only continue to get better.
“This is a game we very easily could have won if the mistakes weren’t there,” he said. “So we’ll get back into the lab, correct those mistakes – we’re going to be a good football team.”
The Roughrider offence does have some kinks to work out, but its defence worked hard and was as physical, fast and athletic as head coach Chris Jones hoped they would be.
“It was a very physical football game,” Jones said. “I thought with really the exception of the first play of the game … I thought we played pretty solidly defensively. I thought we tackled very well.”
“It basically came down to three plays in the first half and that was the difference in the football game.”
There’s still work to do, as Chris Jones stressed throughout camp and into this first week, everybody is a work in progress, but the defensive players see encouraging progress and things to improve on.
“There’s a bit of a learning curve, we weren’t perfect by any means, but I think we’re going to learn from our mistakes and continue to move on,” linebacker Greg Jones said.
“We got a long way to go,” added Samuel Eguavoen, who played his first CFL football game Thursday night. “And for us to put out a performance like that defensively, I mean the sky’s the limit.”
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