Roughriders end playoff drought with statement win over Stampeders
Saskatchewan earns 1st victory in Calgary since 2009, ending Lions post-season hopes
Duron Carter would have liked a sack, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver was otherwise satisfied with his night at defensive back.
Saskatchewan's top receiver with eight touchdowns added a defensive one Friday, returning an interception in a 30-7 win over the Calgary Stampeders.
"I'm supposed to be putting touchdowns on the board no matter where I'm at and that's why I play," Carter said.
Saskatchewan (9-7) earned a playoff spot and won at McMahon Stadium for the first time since 2009.
The Roughriders get at least a crossover post-season berth in the East Division, but with two games remaining in the regular season they're still chasing the Edmonton Eskimos (9-6) in the West.
Saskatchewan last made the playoffs in 2014.
Stamps won't 'freak'
The 'Riders also halted Calgary's lengthy streaks for consecutive wins (11), wins at home (17) and wins against West Division opponents (16).
Calgary (12-2-1) already had a home playoff berth sewn up, but wanted to clinch the division Friday.
"We're not going to freak out," Stampeder quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said. "It's one loss.
"We understand right now this is the time we have to get better. Going into the playoffs, it's not the time to go the other way."
Carter, a six-foot-five, 205-pound Ohio State alum, was pressed into starting at cornerback because of injuries and illness.
Roughrider head coach Chris Jones had predicted Carter would play both sides of the ball in Calgary, but he didn't. The offence didn't require Carter's services, the coach said.
"It was a situation where we were moving the football effectively doing what we were doing," Jones said.
Running back Christion Jones scored on a punt return with third-string quarterback Vernon Adams rushing for a major and a two-point convert for the visitors. Tyler Crapigna kicked field goals from 26 and 13 yards.
Calgary kicker Rene Paredes was good from 26 and 48 yards in front of an announced 27,316.
Saskatchewan quarterback Kevin Glenn was replaced by Brandon Bridge before the end of the first quarter after completing one of three passes for 19 yards. Bridge went 10-for-19 for 133 yards and was intercepted twice.
"We were having a hard time getting anything generated so we just went with Brandon early," Jones said.
Mitchell completed 14 of 27 passes for 136 yards and was picked off twice. He was replaced after Carter's touchdown by Andrew Buckley, who made one of four pass attempts for four yards.
Carter gets last laugh
Carter recorded two tackles, including a leg takedown of star running back Jerome Messam in the first half.
"Defence allows you to sort of be you," Carter observed. "You're not sort of locked into your route. Sometimes at receiver you can't really affect the game. At DB, I can always affect the game.
"Bo Levi checked my side every play to see where I was at. It's fun just getting in guys heads and playing with the defence and I get to play with my ears back."
Mitchell and Carter engaged in Twitter banter during the week with Mitchell mock threatening to throw 25 balls to receivers Carter covered.
But Carter had the last laugh with a 37-yard pick-six just under three minutes into the fourth quarter.
"I just stayed true to my coverage and he put one in my hands," Carter said. "I figured no one on offence was out there ready to tackle so it was an easy touchdown."
Stampeder head coach Dave Dickenson felt his team let themselves get distracted by the social media buzz around Carter.
"He's a player on another team. Why do we give a damn?" Dickenson asked. "There was a bunch of people talking on Twitter and doing things that had nothing to with football and we decided that's important. That's our mistake."
Singleton's Canadian record
The least penalized team in the CFL took an uncharacteristic 12 to Saskatchewan's eight Friday. Calgary failed to turn a pair of interceptions in the first half into any points.
"Sometimes you have a stinker," Dickenson said.
"Didn't see it coming tonight, really didn't, but we haven't been practising well, we haven't been practising with urgency, we haven't really, in my opinion been improving in practice."
One of the few bright spots for Calgary was defensive back Alex Singleton's seven tackles for 114 so far this season, which set a record for a Canadian player in the CFL.
Saskatchewan's win officially eliminated the B.C. Lions from playoff contention without them even taking the field. A seemingly inevitable outcome as the losses continued to mount throughout the past month, snapping their playoff streak at 20 consecutive seasons.