Quarterback Nealon Greene showed that he is as good a reliever as he is as a starter for the Saskatchewan Roughriders yesterday afternoon.
Greene came off the bench to give the Roughriders a 30-14 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Expecting to stay on the sidelines with a tender hamstring, Greene was forced to replace starter Kevin Glenn when Glenn injured his thumb on Saskatchewan’s second offensive play.
Greene responded with a masterful display of ball-control offence in which the Roughriders piled up 24 first downs to Hamilton’s 12 and kept the ball for 40 minutes, 14 seconds—more than two-thirds of the game—while pounding the Ti-Cats defence for 172 rushing yards.
Placekicker Paul McCallum added five field goals, two converts, and a single as the Roughriders (4-3-0-1) moved into second place in the West Division—one point ahead of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Glenn jammed his right thumb on the turf when he was knocked down after executing a pitchout.
“I went to brace myself and it bent back—one of those freak little accidents,” said Glenn, who was solid in the five quarters Greene missed with his injury.
“I think it’s a sprain right now, but I’ll get it X-rayed [Monday] to find out for sure.”
Greene was not his usual mobile self, running only four times for four yards, but he was 17 of 24 passing for 211 yards with no interceptions.
He wasted no time establishing the methodical ball-control offence, grinding out a 12-play, 77-yard drive from the Roughriders’ 11-yard line for a field goal on his first series.
Rocky Henry caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Greene while Sedrick Shaw recorded the other major on a 16-yard run.
“I felt confident with Kevin starting,” Greene said, “but things happen and you have to be prepared. I was prepared. I got my reps in practice.
“The hamstring didn’t bother me as much as my chest did; I fell on the ball early in the game and that hurt,” he noted. “I had opportunities to run but I threw the ball away instead.
“Our receivers were working hard to get open. I’ve got to credit the offensive line, the receivers, and the backs for getting us a lot of second-down-and-medium chances.
“We’re a tough team to beat when we get a lot of second-and-mediums.”
Saskatchewan also had a lot of third-and-shorts. The Roughriders gambled on third down six times and converted every opportunity. One of those in the fourth quarter was a gift from Hamilton, whose consecutive offside penalties first nullified a Roughrider punt and then saved a third-and-one attempt.
“We hadn’t stopped anybody in seven games, why would we start now?” said Hamilton head coach Ron Lancaster. “It doesn’t matter where we kick the football or where they start at, they just take the ball and shove it down our throats.
“Saskatchewan first-downed us to death today.”
Darren Flutie caught a 28-yard pass from Danny McManus for the Tiger-Cats (3-5), who put up their second-straight woeful performance out west in their third game in 11 days.
On Wednesday, they were beaten 33-5 in Edmonton.
Paul Osbaldiston added 41- and 22-yard field goals, a convert, and two singles for Hamilton, which collected just 32 yards on the ground.
McManus was 13 of 30 for 208 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.