The Flying Hawaiian finally took flight in Regina Friday night.
After a long offseason marred by a nagging injury and setbacks, Chad Owens started his second game of the season and the first in front of the home crowd.
“Rider nation is for real. It’s a fun place to play. I feel bad for the opponents coming here … tonight was beautiful,” he said. “I was out there having fun, we were out there having fun, we got the win and that’s all that matters.
And Owens was a big part of that win. He caught for 114 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 14 as the Roughriders blew past Darian Durant and the Montreal Alouettes 37-12.
Adding to the Alouettes troubles was a strong performance by running back Trent Richardson who scored not only his first but also his second CFL touchdown and rushed for 127 yards.
“We did it,” Richardson said was his first thought as he crossed the goal line for the touchdown. “And I mean we did it as in my kids, you know, people who believed in me. God, (former Alabama Crimson Tide teammates) Christion Jones, Duron Carter, all those guys called me and believed in me. They believed in me before I got here … it really pushed me, it made sure I got out that shell to do what I do and what I love.”
For his efforts, Richardson was awarded the game ball Friday night and also received some accolades from head coach Chris Jones.
“Trent did a nice job, once he gets his shoulder pads north and south and doesn’t dance in the hole he’s tough to do business with. He’s a great big strong guy, they don’t really look forward to getting up in the morning and tackling someone that big,” Jones said.
All in all, it was a struggle for the Alouettes from the start. Durant’s first two possessions resulted in turnovers, first on downs when the offence couldn’t convert on third and inches and the second when Durant threw an interception into the arms of a waiting Ed Gainey.
Gainey is now up to a league-best 10 interceptions on the season and five away from the CFL season record.
Both turnovers resulted in touchdowns, first by Richardson on the ground and then a 2-yard passing TD to Owens after the interception.
Despite a decent first quarter for Glenn, Jones opted to put Brandon Bridge in for the second quarter of the game, which saw much less production from the Rider offence.
Glenn admitted he wasn’t aware if it was the plan all along to pull him from the game, before adding that little surprises him anymore.
But Jones said post-game the plan all along was to rotate his quarterbacks in and out.
“You’ve got to be ready for whatever, you never know when your opportunities are going to come and just about the time you got things figured out you don’t and that’s as a coach or a player,” Jones said of his method. “So I just kind of had it in my mind how I was going to do it today and that’s what we did.”
Glenn ended up seeing more time in the third quarter and connecting with Caleb Holley for the Riders third touchdown of the game. He finished the game 7 of 14 for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Both Bridge and Vernon Adams Jr., saw time in the fourth, but the Riders relied heavily on Richardson and the run to finish the off the game. With 4:50 to go in the game Richardson ran in for his second touchdown.
Jones said he wanted his defence to be better, but despite that, the Riders still saw big plays from Crezdon Butler (two sacks, one forced fumble, five tackles), A.C. Leonard (1 sack) and several knockdowns including two from Kacy Rodgers in his return to the lineup from injury.
“It felt awesome, two weeks have felt like an eternity for me, especially starting all year. I was just fortunate, glad to be out there and it was good,” Rodgers said.
Durant, on the other hand, struggled to find his groove in the game and did not play in the second half with a suspected knee injury.
The former Roughrider quarterback was 9 of 20 for 126 yards and an interception in his return to Saskatchewan, but before the game was honoured with a video of his time in green and white by the club and a standing ovation from the fans.
The Roughriders are now 10-7 on the season with just one left in the season before the playoffs.
It is still not known if the Roughriders will stay in the western division for the postseason or crossover to the east.
The green and white square off against Edmonton on Saturday at 5 p.m. At Mosaic Stadium.
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