Canadian Football League

Monday, September 19, 2005

Riders in three-way battle in Canadian Football League West

Omarr Morgan was sick of hearing about how his team could only beat the CFL's basement dwellers. On Sunday he did something about it.
Morgan, who started the Roughriders' fourth-quarter comeback from a nine-point deficit with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown, blocked Hayden Epstein's 31-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game as Saskatchewan beat the Edmonton Eskimos 37-36.
Morgan dashed untouched around the left side of the Eskimos' blockers and got his arms on the ball with a headlong dive.
"I've blocked kicks before," Morgan said. "But this time, with the game-winning field goal on the line and no seconds left on the clock, is the biggest ever in my life. It's such a great feeling right now that I can't explain it. I'm very happy.
"The media had been saying all week that we had beaten only Hamilton and Winnipeg, arguably the two worst teams in the league, and that we wouldn't beat Edmonton at home. We had a lot of confidence going into this game and we backed it up."
Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray had marched the Eskimos 46 yards to the Roughriders' 24 on the final drive but used up most of the last minute putting the ball in the middle of the field for Epstein's kick rather than go for the end zone. He said there was no consideration given to going for a touchdown.
"No, we felt we got it into a pretty good position there and we were playing for the field goal to win the game," Ray said.
Saskatchewan claimed its third straight victory and remained in a third-place tie in the West Division with the Calgary Stampeders, both with 6-6 records. Edmonton is in second place at 7-5.
The result means the West Division could hold four playoff berths. Should the West's fourth-place team finish the season with a superior record than the East Division's third-place team, the East will be reduced to two playoff participants.
The Montreal Alouettes (5-6) and Ottawa Renegades (5-7) share second place in the East.
The game featured several big plays and shifts in momentum. Saskatchewan led 10-1 and 24-16 after the first two quarters but the Eskimos had a 33-24 edge after 45 minutes.
"For the most part, we played well except for a couple of plays here and there," Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia said. "I'm proud of the way we battled back in an environment that's difficult to play in."
Ray became the first quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 yards this season, completing 31 of 45 passes for 346 yards despite a lacklustre first half in which he managed only 90 yards passing. He completed his first 11 attempts of the third quarter and finished with three touchdown passes of 11 yards to Ron McClendon, 17 yards to Trevor Gaylor and 49 yards to Derrell Mitchell. Ray's season passing total now stands at 4,133 yards.
"He's one off the best quarterbacks in the league," Morgan said of Ray. "You can only hold him down for so long. He's going to make some plays. We're not worried about that. We made enough plays to win


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