Despite a furious rally in the fourth quarter, a 19-17 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday sentenced the Elks (2-9) to a 0-7 record at Commonwealth Stadium in 2021, which is an infamous achievement. in a year the team also rebranded with a new name.
“We have to own this year’s record, but I think there was a glimpse tonight of why we’re going to be successful here,” Elks coach Jaime Elizondo said. “And a lot of young talent who showed up, a lot of guys who stepped in and did a few plays and I’m really proud of their performance.
“There is no solace in that, but we are close. Anyone who isn’t in that locker room doesn’t understand the kind of effort these guys keep putting in game after game. “
Meanwhile, the Roughriders (8-4) moved closer to winning a home playoff game. Saskatchewan have won three in a row.
“All three of them have been on the road, which isn’t easy,” said quarterback Cody Fajardo, who survived a forgettable first quarter to finish with 241 yards in the air and 44 more on the ground.
“I don’t think a lot of people give us credit for that. It’s very difficult to do, traveling everywhere for very good football teams. This evening, Edmonton was in its stadium for the last time. We knew they were going to give us everything they had. And they played well. It boiled down to the thread, the typical CFL game. “
Saskatchewan defenseman Loucheiz Purifoy, who made three tackles in the game, was annoyed after the game because it was so tight.
“I don’t think they should have scored, but it’s our responsibility,” he said.
The Elks Nafees Lyon cornerback intercepted Fajardo’s first pass of the game. It didn’t improve much for the ‘Riders during the first quarter. Fajardo threw for just five yards and his team had just one first down.
The struggles of the first quarter were a constant theme for Saskatchewan.
“If we had an idea, we probably would have corrected it by now,” Fajardo said. “We say every week that we have to start fast, that we have to be good on the first try and that we have to score in the red zone. It seems we only get one of three each week. “
Edmonton kicker Sean Whyte opened the scoring with a shot on goal from the field to cap a 12-play, 87-yard run. The key play was a 29-yard Walter Fletcher run starting in place of injured James Wilder Jr.
Saskatchewan responded with 10 points in the second quarter. They tied the game on Brett Lauther’s 26-yard field goal after the Roughriders converted two short-run third situations in a 10-game practice.
The ‘Riders were leading 4-3 on the 53 red yards from kicker Kaare Vedvik’s foot. Fajardo then continued with a 22-yard touchdown to Brayden Lenius. The convert was missed.
Whyte missed a field goal for 49 yards at halftime.
The Riders extended their lead to 19-3 on three other Lauther field goals.
And then the Elks rallied. With 8:35 left in the fourth quarter, home fans finally had a touchdown to celebrate.
Quarterback Taylor Cornelius escaped the run and found Danny Vandervoort for a 26-yard shot. The two-point conversion attempt was stifled by Saskatchewan’s defense.
Cornelius hit Vandervoort for another touchdown, this one from five yards, with 1:13 to go. With the two-point convert, Saskatchewan’s 16-point lead quickly narrowed to two.
After completing just 10 passes in the first three quarters, Cornelius finished 21 for 35 passing for 322 yards.
Saskatchewan recovered the offensive kick to stop Edmonton’s momentum.
The Elks had fewer receivers Greg Ellingson and Derel Walker, while the Roughriders played without main receiver Kyran Moore.
Edmonton and Saskatchewan meet again on November 13 in Regina.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 5, 2021.