Tyler Crapigna envisioned hitting a game-winning field goal.
His fifth field goal of the night with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the winner, one that gave the Saskatchewan Roughriders a 30-29 come-from-behind victory over the previously unbeaten Ottawa Redblacks on Friday.
Crapigna was 5 for 5 in field goal attempts and his individual effort powered the Riders (1-3) to their first victory of the season.
“I don’t think it gets any better than that,” Crapigna said after he hit the 53-yard strike.
“I was just ready for anything,” added the second-year kicker, who is in his first year as the full-time starter. “Whatever the distance was, I was going to be ready to go.”
Saskatchewan’s rookie quarterback Mitchell Gale and the Riders offence moved the ball just enough on the game-winning drive to give Crapigna a shot to win the game.
“I had a little wind at my back and I just needed to get it up there. I didn’t really need to a put a lot of power into it. I just needed to get it up it there … I hit it smooth and I hit it straight.”
Ottawa’s backup quarterback Brock Jensen, who replaced an injured Trevor Harris, said it was a helpless feeling watching the Riders line up for the game-winning kick in the dying seconds.
“We shouldn’t have put our defence in that position,” Jensen explained. “We had a second-and-goal at their five-yard line and I screwed up the play with my cadence. We didn’t find a way to get a touchdown there and that would have made it extremely hard on (Saskatchewan) to make a drive, a drive where they needed a touchdown to win.”
Instead, the Redblacks settled for an 11-yard field goal from Chris Milo, a score that gave Ottawa a 29-27 lead.
Jensen completed 20-of-29 pass attempts for 271 yards and two touchdowns in a relief effort. Harris was injured on the team’s first possession when he was sacked by Roughriders defensive lineman Corvey Irvin. Harris appeared to have rolled over on his right leg. He limped off the field and did not return.
Jensen’s first drive under centre saw him complete his first two passes, with the second completion of his CFL career being a 65-yard touchdown strike to Brad Sinopoli — a score that gave Ottawa an early 7-6 lead in the first quarter.
Sinopoli scored his second touchdown of the game in the second quarter on another big play that burned the Riders secondary. Jensen found his slotback behind the coverage for a 47-yard major score, one that answered Saskatchewan’s touchdown that came off a blocked punt.
Saskatchewan’s first offensive touchdown of the game didn’t come until the final play of the third quarter. The Riders took advantage of a blown coverage assignment when Gale hit Naaman Roosevelt for an 89-yard touchdown that pulled them to within two at 26-24. The Riders took the lead midway through the fourth quarter when Crapigna connected from 25 yards to make it 27-26 for the home team.
Crapigna is 15 for 17 in field-goal attempts this season. He came up big with starting quarterback Darian Durant sitting out with a high ankle sprain.
“It’s the ultimate goal for a kicker is wanting your teammates to know that when it comes down to the moments that they need that you’re going to come through for them,” Crapigna said. “They come through for me during the game and I come through for them at the end.”
In Gale’s first CFL start, the first-year Roughrider threw for 354 yards and one touchdown. He connected with Roosevelt eight times for 182 yards.
Sinopoli didn’t catch a ball in the second half, after a big first half that saw him post five catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
The Riders will travel to face the Montreal Alouettes next week, while the Redblacks return home to take on the Toronto Argonauts.