Roughriders hold off Jon Cornish, Stampeders
Joe Lobendahn may have saved somebody's job.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders' middle linebacker made five defensive tackles and a game-changing interception for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a 30-25 win Sunday over the Calgary Stampeders.
He was also a key cog in a defensive scheme that held Calgary tailback Jon Cornish, the CFL's leading rusher, to 67 yards rushing as Saskatchewan (6-6) ended a four-game winning streak for second-place Calgary (7-5).
Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin pledged earlier in the week to make personnel changes if Cornish ran for over 100 yards against Saskatchewan.
"Joe is one of the guys that if you were in a dark alley and you saw Joe you'd better run," said Chamblin. "He's tough. Joe is a tough-minded individual. You could see it in his eyes every day that all he wants to do is win.
"He was pissed because there was one where Cornish ran through the gap and he missed him and I could see it in his eyes that he was pissed."
But Lobendahn never lost focus.
With the game tied 13-13 in the third quarter, the five-year CFL veteran picked off Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn on a short pass over the middle and returned the ball 16 yards deep into Stamps territory.
The play seemed to energize his teammates and helped set up a touchdown pass two plays later from Darian Durant to Weston Dressler. Saskatchewan never trailed from that point on.
"I want to be there making the play," said Lobendahn, who was released by Calgary out of training camp in June. "Sometimes I try to do too much … but the thing is I've got to be patient. The play will come, and when it does, I've got to make the play."
The Stampeders (7-5) responded with a pair of two-and-outs. The second one led to another Roughriders score.
Tristan Jackson returned Rob Maver's punt 33 yards before Durant connected with Taj Smith on a 30-yard TD pass to put Saskatchewan up 27-13.
Calgary made it 27-25 in the fourth, scoring a field goal, touchdown, two-point conversion and a kickoff single, but turned the ball over on downs with barely a minute to play. Riders kicker Sandro DeAngelis capped a perfect day with his third field goal of the game from 37 yards.
Durant completed 22-of-35 passes for 264 yards in the game.
"We just have to take advantage of the opportunities that they give us in the pass game," said Durant, who returned after missing most of the last two games with a hip injury. "They blitz a lot so when they blitz we have to make them pay and we did on a couple of occasions."
The Roughriders didn't make life easy on themselves in the early going.
Chris Getzlaf fumbled on the first play of the game, and Calgary capitalized with a 33-yard field goal from Rene Paredes.
Saskatchewan's next possession ended in a Drew Willy touchdown run, but not before tailback Jock Sanders had to recover his own fumble in Calgary territory.
The Riders ended the first quarter with a turnover on downs after a botched fake punt, and paid for the mistake six plays later when Marquay McDaniel made a leaping catch in the end zone to put Calgary up 10-7.
DeAngelis kicked a 38-yard field goal to send the game to halftime tied 10-10, and added another in the third quarter from 22 yards out.
Paredes finished 3 for 4 on field-goal attempts, also connecting from 37 and 44 yards while missing from 45.
"We played a football team that played very well," said Calgary head coach John Hufnagel. "We knew they would come out and give us their best shot, which they did.
"We didn't play very well collectively and I'm not taking anything away from Saskatchewan, because they did."