Stampeders 27 Roughriders 19
REGINA — With Saskatchewan Roughriders star running back Wes Cates continuing to recover from off-season shoulder surgery, Tuesday’s events left little doubt Hugh Charles will be helping fill Cates’ shoes.
The rookie running back was the centrepiece of an improved ’Riders offence as Saskatchewan fell 27-19 to the Calgary Stampeders at Mosaic Stadium in both teams final exhibition game.
Charles had eight carries for 52 yards, caught a 21-yard pass from Darian Durant, and recovered a Durant fumble for a first down before being pulled from the game at halftime.
“It felt like we were doing everything that was drawn up in practice,” said Charles. “I was reading my holes, my lines, did a great job getting the block and breaking a few tackles which is part of a running back’s job.”
Saskatchewan did almost everything right but win.
Calgary’s Juwan Simpson returned a Casey McGahee fumble for a touchdown with less than three minutes remaining, breaking open a one-point game in the fourth quarter.
McGahee, the rookie wide receiver, had kick returns of 19 and 39 yards to his credit in the game but lost the handle on Burke Dales’ punt at the Saskatchewan 10-yard line. Simpson picked up the loose ball and scampered unchallenged into the Riders’ end zone to close out the scoring.
Calgary got on the board in the first quarter with a five-yard touchdown run by Joffrey Reynolds. Stamps quarterback Henry Burris was 6-for-6 on the nine-play series, racking up 66 of his 175 passing yards in the game.
Saskatchewan’s quarterbacking foursome of starter Steven Jyles, Durant, Dalton Bell and Juan Armour combined to go 17-of-30 for 191 yards. Calgary also utilized former Rider Drew Tate and Matt D’Orazio at quarterback.
Burris later connected with Jabari Arthur on a five-yard touchdown strike and Calgary held a 17-14 lead after the first half. Sandro DeAngelis kicked two field goals and three converts for the Stampeders.
Charles’ case was not hurt by a tough outing for fellow ’Riders rookie Justin Beaver. Beaver ran for a two-yard touchdown on his only carry of the first half but finished the game with just five rushing and seven receiving yards.
Luca Congi added a 32-yard field goal and Calgary punter Burke Dales conceded a safety.
Derek Watson led all rushers with 75 yards on 13 attempts.
Charles said after the game that he wanted to make a name for himself.
In the eyes of the man who will decide his fate, mission accomplished.
“Certainly Hugh Charles had a big night and showed that he could be special, is special for that matter, because he made some tremendous runs,” said Roughriders head coach Ken Miller.