Nathan Rourke guides Lions to defeat Riders from behind

The Riders fell to 4-4 after a 32-17 loss to the BC Lions on Friday.

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The bye week will not be good for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

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The Riders were beaten 33-17 by the visiting BC Lions in the last game before the Green & White’s bye week.

Friday’s result dropped the Riders’ record to 4-4. The Lions, led by second-year Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke, improved to 5-1.

The Riders opened up a 17-4 lead in the second quarter before returner Mario Alford returned a field goal miss by Sean Whyte at the Saskatchewan two-yard line.

A play later, running back Jamal Morrow was tackled for a three-yard loss as the Lions recovered to safety. BC then edged Saskatchewan 28-3 to freeze the win over the Riders.

Rourke lived up to his early billing by leading the Lions to victory from behind.

He completed 27 of 33 pass attempts for 336 yards and touchdown passes to Dominique Rhymes and Jevon Cottoy. Rourke also rushed for a one-yard touchdown.

Saskatchewan quarterback Cody Fajardo completed 18 of 27 passes for 168 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was also sacked four times before making way for Mason Fine. The Riders have fired Rourke twice.

The Riders are now out until August 13, when they will be in Edmonton to face the Elks. The Lions will face the Elks on August 6.

Saskatchewan’s defense got off to a good start when Anthony Lanier II sacked Rourke for a four-yard loss on BC’s first offensive play. Rourke then showed his elusiveness by running for 12 yards.

BC settled for a 1-0 lead at 1:58 of the first quarter after a 74-yard single from punter Stefan Flintoft.

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The Riders responded on their next possession when Fajardo joined Samuel Emilus on a 32-yard pass. Saskatchewan’s drive stalled on the BC 20-yard line. Brett Lauther then threw a 28-yard field goal, giving the Riders a 3-1 lead at 8:31 of the first quarter.

Veteran defensive end Charleston Hughes fired Rourke and forced a fumble that was recovered by Keion Adams at the BC 27-yard line. Three plays later, Fajardo joined Tevin Jones on an eight-yard touchdown pass. Lauther started the convert and the Riders held a 10-1 lead at 9:43 of the first quarter.

Rourke then engineered an 11-play, 51-yard drive that was capped off by Sean Whyte’s 16-yard field goal. The Lions trailed the Riders 10-4 at 1:04 of the second quarter.

Saskatchewan’s offense then got to work on a seven-play, 70-yard streak. Fajardo scored on a one-yard run at 4:31 of the second quarter. Lauther converted the major and Saskatchewan led 17-4.

Morrow contributed to Saskatchewan’s practice with rushes for 28 and four yards and a catch for 12 yards. Duke Williams, returning to the active roster after serving a one-game suspension, moved the Riders BC one-yard line with a 16-yard reception. Fajardo followed up Williams’ catch with the touchdown from one yard.

The Lions then recorded a safety after Whyte went wide right on a 38-yard field goal attempt. Alford headed the ball to Saskatchewan’s two-yard line.

BC’s Marcus Sayles tackled Morrow for a three-yard loss and subsequent safety. The Lions were still trailing 17-6 at 8:08 of the second quarter.

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Flintoft then threw a 74-yard single as the Lions trailed 17-7 at 12:26 of the second quarter.

BC followed the singles with a seven-play, 70-yard drive that was capped off by Rourke’s one-yard touchdown. Whyte kicked the convert as the Lions entered the intermission trailing 17-14.

Rourke started the long drive with a 40-yard pass to Keon Hatcher who moved the ball to Saskatchewan’s 37-yard line.

In the third quarter, the Lions took a 21-17 lead after driving for 81 yards in eight games. Rhymes scored on a 14-yard one-handed catch to cap the drive at 7:28 of the third quarter. Whyte converted the touchdown.

The Riders appeared to have stopped a Lions practice when Amari Henderson knocked down Rourke’s long pass to Rhymes. Lanier was penalized for roughing up the setter, putting the Lions at the Saskatchewan 40-yard line.

Three plays later, Whyte threw a 39-yard field goal. The Lions led 24-17 at 2:03 of the fourth quarter.

Rourke then completed a 15-yard pass to Cottoy. The touchdown was converted by Whyte and BC had a 31-17 lead at 8:28 of the fourth quarter.

Flintoft closed the score with another single at 13:17 of the fourth quarter.

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