REGINA – The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defence had Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Zach Collaros under siege for much of the night.
The Riders sacked the first-year Hamilton starter 10 times and limited the Tiger-Cats to less than 200 yards total offence in a convincing 31-10 victory on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.
“Our defence played lights out,” said Riders quarterback Darian Durant, who tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the game. “Give them the lead and they can really tee off on the opposing team.”
Ricky Foley led the Riders defence with six tackles and three sacks. John Chick and Derek Walker each had two sacks, and the defending Grey Cup champions looked dominant in front of 19,285 spectators that braved wet and windy weather.
“It seemed like a lot of things we working for us,” Chick said. “You see the chemistry of the guys today. A bunch of us have a full season under our belts working together and the new guys are coming along. To see everyone working together was great.”
The poor weather didn’t slow the Riders’ offence. Saskatchewan scored on three of its first four possessions and enjoyed a 24-1 lead at halftime. The Riders racked up 196 yards of offence in the first half compared to just 96 yards from Hamilton.
First-year Riders running back Anthony Allen rushed for 158 yards and scored two touchdowns in his first CFL start. Durant connected with eight different receivers on the day and threw touchdown strikes to Allen and fellow newcomer Brett Swain.
“We live out here,” Durant said when asked how well the offence moved the ball despite the lousy weather. “It has been raining for a month and we’ve been practising in it day in and day out. We prepared ourselves for this and we did a great job of not letting (the weather) be a factor.”
Tiger-Cats head coach Kent Austin didn’t use the weather as an excuse for his team’s poor debut, although it didn’t help in its bid for a come-from-behind victory on the road.
“I saw not a very good football team today,” Austin said. “We have to make a great improvement in a lot of areas right now. I have to get our guys more discipline. Our penalty situation is ridiculous right now.
“It was a monsoon out there, and the wind … I’m not making excuses for (Collaros). It was tough conditions to play in. Their pressure just compounded things.”
Saskatchewan had Collaros on the run early. Walker’s first sack snuffed Hamilton’s opening offensive drive, and on their second possession, it was a sack by linebacker Sam Hurl that led to punter Justin Medlock conceding a safety. A Collaros fumble and a snap that sailed over Medlock’s head on a punt attempt just added to Hamilton’s woes in the first half.
Luke Tasker scored Hamilton’s lone touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Collaros.
“I’m not angry at the team,” said Austin, whose club was penalized 17 times for 148 yards. “It’s about getting better. This game means something only if we learn to get better from it. Other than that, it has no meaning. We have to limit our mistakes and learn how to get better.”
Saskatchewan will visit the Toronto Argonauts (1-0) in Week 2. Hamilton, meanwhile will travel to Edmonton to take on the Eskimos (1-0).