REGINA — Jamal Miles returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown with barely a minute to play as the Edmonton Eskimos ended a difficult regular season by sending the Saskatchewan Roughriders into the playoffs on a two-game losing streak with a 30-26 win Saturday afternoon.
The defeat also cost Saskatchewan (11-7) its first 12-win season since 2008 as the Riders prepare to host the B.C. Lions in the CFL’s West Division semifinal.
For Edmonton (4-14), the win meant little more than avoiding a new benchmark for the second-worst season in franchise history.
With both teams resting a number of starters, the game featured another characteristically slow start from the Roughriders, who trailed 10-0 before Chris Milo kicked a 23-yard field goal near the end of the first quarter.
Edmonton raced out to the early lead on a 25-yard field goal from Grant Shaw and a 56-yard interception return from middle linebacker Rennie Curran.
Curran’s pick was the first of the year thrown by Saskatchewan quarterback Drew Willy, who started his second game of 2013 in place of starter Darian Durant.
Willy was looking for Weston Dressler on a crossing route over the middle and threw the ball straight into the hands of Curran, who was cutting the other way.
Saskatchewan tied the game at 10 late in the second quarter on a six-yard TD pass from Willy to Eron Riley, who started the game in place of injured slotback Chris Getzlaf.
A 40-yard field goal from Shaw made it 13-10 Edmonton at the half.
Willy left the game at halftime 15-of-22 passing for 157 yards, before giving way to third-stringer Tino Sunseri for the second half. Sunseri finished the game 14 of 18 for 167 yards.
Milo made it 13-13 on an 11-yard field goal in the third quarter and Shaw replied with a 25-yarder of his own to restore Edmonton’s three-point lead.
The Roughriders took their first lead of the game after Craig Butler picked Edmonton backup QB Jonathan Crompton and returned the ball to the Eskimos’ 28-yard line.