The Saskatchewan Roughriders are heading east for the postseason, and if their run ends in a Grey Cup victory they will spend three weeks playing in Ontario football stadiums.
The Edmonton Eskimos blew a close game wide open in the fourth quarter and their defense held on to knock off the Riders 28-13 Saturday night at a chilly Mosaic Stadium to clinch third place and to stay in the West for the playoffs. The loss moves Saskatchewan to the crossover spot, and they'll head to the East Division for postseason action.
The scoreboard at the end of the first 15 minutes looked more like a Regina Pats-Edmonton Oil Kings game than a football contest, with a lone rouge counting for a 1-0 Edmonton lead. But that would change on the first play of the second quarter, as Green and Gold quarterback Mike Reilly capped off a 62 yard drive with a two yard plunge into the endzone, building the visitors' lead to 8. Starting pivot for the Riders Kevin Glenn struggled once again, throwing for just 63 yards in the game, and he would be benched midway through the second quarter.
After Edmonton kicked a field goal to put the score at 11-0, backup quarterback Brandon Bridge made an immediate impact for the Green and White. He'd find Marcus Thigpen for a 12 yard touchdown, but on the play, guard Brendon Labatte was seriously hurt, and head coach Chris Jones says he could be out for next week's game. At the end of the first half, Edmonton would take a 4 point lead into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Edmonton would add another field goal early before Bridge led his team down the field again, capped off by an 8 yard run by Thigpen to the endzone. A missed convert put the Eskimos up 14-13 after three quarters.
That's when things would take a turn for the worse for the home side. On the Eskimos' first possession of the final quarter, their offense marched down Mosaic's turf, with a Reilly one yard sneak for a touchdown to build the lead up to 8.
On the ensuing kickoff, returner Greg Morris fumbled the ball. Edmonton would recover the fumble and another Reilly touchdown run would put the Eskimos ahead for good, as they silenced the crowd in Saskatchewan's final home game of the season.
Edmonton will now head to Winnipeg to face the Blue Bombers in the West Semi-Final, with the winner going to Calgary. As for the Riders, they'll turn their attention to Ottawa to face a Redblacks team that's won 3 straight games. The winner of the RedBlacks and Green and White tilt next Sunday will travel a short distance to Toronto to face the Argonauts, who clinched first place in the East with a win last week.
And if Saskatchewan can win both of those games and become the first crossover team to make the Grey Cup, they'll make a return trip to Ottawa for the 105th championship game.