Kory Sheets made returning from an injury look easy Friday night.
Sheets ran for two touchdowns as the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the B.C. Lions 31-17 before a disappointed crowd of 37,312 — the highest of the season at B.C. Place — on Friday night.
"It was amazing," said Sheets. "I'm lost for words. I'm probably going to treat the guys to something nice this weekend."
Sheets excelled upon his return from a knee injury that had kept him out of two-plus games. He was injured Sept. 14 against Toronto. The running back rushed for 80 yards on 14 carries.
The Riders ended their losing streak at four games as they moved into a second-place tie with B.C. for second place in the West Division. Both clubs have 9-5 records.
The Lions suffered their first regular-season loss at home since July 20, 2012 against Edmonton.
"This is, I think, my third or fourth time coming here, and this is my first win here," said Sheets, who also caught six passes for 41 yards. "We're going to have some fun with it and get back to work [Saturday]."
Lions quarterback Thomas DeMarco suffered his first loss in three games filling in for injured starter Travis Lulay (shoulder.) DeMarco threw the first three interceptions of his CFL career and ended the game with 19 completions on 36 pass attempts for 286 passing yards and a touchdown.
"It's disappointing to lose at home," said DeMarco, who had led the Lions to a pair of wins in his first outings. "I've got a lot of things that we'll look at on film and try and get better at. a Right now, we've got some things to work on."
Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant was modestly effective as he completed 21 of 31 attempts for 234 yards and a touchown.
"We played better than the score showed," said Lions linebacker Adam Bighill, adding penalties put his team in the hole. "The best thing we can do is learn and move on and, next (team) up: Calgary."
Weston Dressler caught the touchdown pass for Saskatchewan while Chris Milo furnished two field goals and a single off a miss. B.C. also conceded a safety. Shawn Gore and Nick Moore scored touchdowns for B.C., while Paul McCallum kicked one field goal.
B.C. led 3-0 after the first quarter, but the Riders never trailed after Dressler's second-quarter touchdown.
"We didn't make enough plays and, certainly, we hurt ourselves with some penalties," said Lions coach Mike Benevides, whose club committed 13 infractions for 138 yards.
Many fans came to see Riders slotback Geroy Simon, who played his first game in B.C. since being traded to Saskatchewan in January. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he was introduced before the game.
But Simon had a quiet night, recording just one catch on the second-last play of the game. He extended his receptions streak to 184 games just seconds before it was in danger of coming to an end.
McCallum put B.C. on the scoreboard first as he booted a 35-yard field goal about nine-and-a-half minutes into the game after both teams struggled to get going offensively. The Lions were forced to settle for a field goal after DeMarco plunged for a first down on a third-and-one situation but then threw two incomplete passes.
Saskatchewan put up its first points early in the second quarter as Durant connected with Dressler for a five-yard scoring play, staking the Riders to a 7-3 lead.
Sheets was hurt in the closing seconds of the first half as he tried to turn across the field while running with the ball after making a catch. His right ankle appeared to give out and he fell without being tackled. He set up a 39-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the second quarter, but Milo was wide and the ball went through the end zone for a single point to give Saskatchewan a 16-3 advantage at half-time.
"It wasn't an injury," said Sheets, who also needed some stretching help from trainers late in the game. "I was just cramping up. I'd been out of football for a couple of weeks. I've gotta get back into shape."
Sheets returned in the second half, but not before the Lions used their first series to reduce Saskatchewan's lead to 16-10.
Receiver Shawn Gore ran in for a one-yard touchdown on a reverse. The score was set up by a Tyron Brackenridge pass interference penalty in the end zone and a 41-yard rush by another B.C. receiver-turned-rusher, Korey Williams.
But Sheets soon enabled the Riders to go up 23-10 as he ran in for his second touchdown for the game, from six yards out. The Riders went ahead by two more points at the end of the third quarter as McCallum conceded a safety.
"When our offence had a great drive to start the second half and make it a one-score game, they drove down and found ways to score on us again," said Benevides. "So we just didn't make enough plays — and they did."
B.C. made things interesting as Moore caught a 15-yard touchdown with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter while the Lions were on third down with 15 yards to go. But on B.C.'s next drive, Gore dropped a pass while open, the Lions were called for illegal procedure and Carlos Thomas knocked down a long bomb intended for Emmanuel Arceneaux on another third-down situation.
"[DeMarco] is a young guy, and there's probably plays he wants back, but it's certainly not on him," said Benevides. "It's on all the rest of us."