Roughriders remain undefeated after beating Aros 30-23 in Patterson’s first start

Saskatchewan Roughriders receivers Mitch Picton (81), Samuiel Emilus (middle) and Jerreth Sterns (83) celebrate during the Riders 30-23 victory over the Toronto Argonauts in Week 5 of the 2024 CFL season. PHOTO BY SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

Taylor Shire

Regina Leader-Post

Shea Patterson got a little help from his friends on Thursday night.

The 27-year-old quarterback — who was making his first career CFL start for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in place of the injured Trevor Harris — threw one touchdown and ran in another while watching his defence force five turnovers as the Riders beat the visiting Toronto Argonauts 30-23 in Week 5 of the CFL season.

“A lot of emotions going into it, a lot of emotions through it and a lot of emotions coming out of it,” said Patterson, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 192 yards in front of 22,923 fans at Mosaic Stadium.

“Just very excited and happy and fortunate enough to be part of such a great team.”

And while it was a good finish, the start was a different story.

Early on, the Riders found themselves in a hole as Argonauts’ returner Janarion Grant took back Saskatchewan’s first punt of the game 84 yards for a touchdown to put Toronto up 6-0 after an unsuccessful two-point convert.

Through the first quarter, the Riders generated just one first down as the teams traded field goals before Patterson and the offence came alive in the second quarter.

On Saskatchewan’s sixth drive of the game, Patterson marched the team 94 yards on eight plays, capped off by a touchdown pass to Sam Emilus, who made a spin move and eluded three defenders before scampering 34 yards to the end zone to put the Riders up 10-9.

“I knew that once I had the ball in my hands, I had to make something happen,” said Emilus, who had a team-high 54 receiving yards in the game. “We had a slow start a little bit, so I just wanted to make something happen.

“I just made a move and it worked out and it was just a race to the goal line.”

After completing just one pass in the first quarter, Patterson said he got more comfortable after that scoring drive.

“I knew going in they were going to send a lot of pressure especially on second down,” said Patterson. “I think we just as a group, once I kind of settled into the game, everybody started rolling and that’s kind of when we got going as an offence.”

After forcing a fumble and registering an interception in the first half, Saskatchewan’s defence continued their prowess in the second half.

Following a field goal by each team, Argos’ quarterback Cameron Dukes was picked off by Rolan Milligan Jr. before Patterson engineered a 45-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a nine-yard TD run by the QB to put Saskatchewan up 20-12.

After the Argonauts responded with a touchdown and two-point convert to tie the game 20-20 early in the fourth quarter, Dukes was intercepted by Marcus Sayles, who returned it 46 yards for the touchdown to put Saskatchewan up 27-20 with the convert.

“Just happy to make plays wherever I can,” said Sayles. “Honestly it wasn’t even me.

“It was everybody else playing and doing their responsibilities; I just got the result of it.”

On Toronto’s next series, Dukes was intercepted for a second time by Milligan, who returned it 49 yards to the Toronto 11-yard line.

“Just trying to make plans so we can win games, that’s all,” said Milligan. “When they throw the ball up, it’s just as much ours as it is theirs so once they throw it up, we’ve got to go get it.”

From there, Saskatchewan’s Brett Lauther made his third field goal of the night to put the Riders up 30-20 with 3:13 left before Nick Arbuckle, who replaced Dukes, engineered a field goal drive for the Argos to make it 30-23 with 1:56 left.

Saskatchewan’s offence took over at their 13-yard line and Patterson connected with Mitch Picton for a pair of first downs, which helped the Riders run down the clock and secure the victory.

“It’s definitely a sigh of relief when it’s a 20-20 game and you get two straight picks,” said Patterson. “It kind of lets the offence take a deep breath and stay poised and try to get a couple first downs and run out the clock.”

“To be able to go out there and ice the game, it’s great and feels good to be able to close it out like that,” added Picton. “We’ve got all the confidence in the world in Shea and for him to be able to come out and do that, have that poise and composure to finish it off like we did, I think that says a lot about this offence but also about Shea and how he’s able to perform.”

For the first time since 2013, the Riders are off to a 4-0 start while rookie head coach Corey Mace is just the fourth first-year CFL coach since 2008 to begin 4-0.

“Everybody just knew that we had to rally,” said Mace. “It was going to be a tough game and you’ve got to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you and defensively I thought we did that.”

However, the coach knows nothing has been won yet.

“There’s never been any trophies handed out this early, so we’ve got to go 1-0 next week,” said Mace, whose team will visit the B.C. Lions on July 13.

“That’s just literally how we approach it.”