Unbeaten Saskatchewan Roughriders hot streak continues with 30-23 victory over Toronto Argonauts

Saskatchewan Roughriders' Marcus Sayles (8) celebrates after running back an interception for a touchdown against the Toronto Argonauts during the second half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.  (Heywood Yu/ The Canadian Press - image credit)
Saskatchewan Roughriders' Marcus Sayles (8) celebrates after running back an interception for a touchdown against the Toronto Argonauts during the second half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024. (Heywood Yu/ The Canadian Press - image credit)

For the first time since 2013, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are 4-0 to start a CFL season.

The Roughriders extended their win streak under new head coach Corey Mace with a 30-23 victory over the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday.

Mace, who was hired by the Roughriders in the off-season to replace Craig Dickenson as head coach, appreciates early success, but he's not taking anything for granted.

"There's never been any trophies handed out this early, so we've got to go 1-0 next week. That's just literally how we approach it, and we'll see where we fall after that," said Mace, who spent the previous two seasons as defensive co-Cordinator of the Argos.

The contest featured two young quarterbacks in Toronto's Cameron Dukes and Saskatchewan's Shea Patterson.

Dukes moved into the starting job when Chad Kelly was suspended May 7 for a minimum of nine games for violating the CFL's gender-based violence policy.

Patterson stepped into Saskatchewan's starting role after Trevor Harris's sprained ligament in his left knee June 24 landed him on the six-game injured list.

With Patterson making his first career CFL start, the Roughriders were considered slight underdogs to the Argonauts, who fell to 2-2.

Saskatchewan's defence helped Patterson out by forcing five turnovers, collecting four interceptions and one fumble. The 'Riders didn't turn the ball over at all during the game.

Toronto Argonauts' Deonta McMahon (right) is tackled by Saskatchewan Roughriders' Lake Korte-Moore (49) and Rolan Milligan Jr. (0) during the second half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
Toronto Argonauts' Deonta McMahon (right) is tackled by Saskatchewan Roughriders' Lake Korte-Moore (49) and Rolan Milligan Jr. (0) during the second half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.

Toronto Argonauts' Deonta McMahon (right) is tackled by Saskatchewan Roughriders' Lake Korte-Moore (49) and Rolan Milligan Jr. (0) during the second half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024. (Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press)

Marcus Sayles scored the game-winning touchdown on a 54-yard interception return with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter.

A pass from Dukes went off the hands of receiver Demonte Coxie for Sayles to snag and run down the sideline for the touchdown. It was Saskatchewan's third interception of the game.

On Toronto's next possession, Dukes threw his fourth interception of the game, which Rolan Milligan grabbed his second pick of the game and returned the ball 49 yards to the Toronto 11-yard line.

Facing third and goal from the three-yard line with 3:15 remaining, the Roughriders opted for a Brett Lauther 11-yard field goal to increase their lead to 30-20.

The Argos cut the deficit to 30-23 with 1:56 left on a 42-yard field goal by Liram Hajrullahu but that's as close Toronto would get.

Sayles was a surprise cut of the B.C. Lions in the pre-season. The defensive back signed with Saskatchewan on June 4.

Sayles struggled in his first two games with the Roughriders and left the third June 23 with an injury.

The six-year CFL veteran showed what he could bring to the Roughriders Thursday.

"Early in the season I made some mistakes, but I've been here for a couple of weeks now," Sayles said. "We've got a lot more communication and we see the results."

Mace, who also serves as the Riders defensive co-ordinator, has stressed the need for the defence to force turnovers. Scoring 10 points off consecutive turnovers in the second half was the key to victory.

"To be able to score, that really changes the dynamic of the game for us," Mace said.

"We'll take them whenever we can get them, but when you get them when it's crunch time, that really swings momentum into your favour. But we all know that it's the CFL and three minutes is an eternity in this league. So, for us to be able to make those plays, that's a tip of the cap to us."

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Shea Patterson (5) winds up to throw against the Toronto Argonauts during the first half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Shea Patterson (5) winds up to throw against the Toronto Argonauts during the first half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Shea Patterson (5) winds up to throw against the Toronto Argonauts during the first half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024. (Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press)

After his college career at both the University of Mississippi and the University of Michigan, Patterson appeared in the USFL and CFL the past three years.

He dressed for 13 games with Saskatchewan in 2023 and was used sporadically in short-yardage situations.

He got off to a slow start on Thursday, completing just one of five passes for 12 yards. Patterson found a rhythm in the second quarter, finishing the game 15 of 24 passing for 192 yards and one touchdown.

He also ran for a nine-yard touchdown and said the win was special for him.

"Professional career wise, it's number one," the 27-year-old said. "I can say it now that it's number one from it all, from
wherever I played. It's just a feeling of complete joy and gratitude."

The Argonauts led early when Janarion Grant returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown three minutes into the game. It was Grant's first touchdown as an Argo. He signed in the off-season following four seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

In addition to Patterson's major, the Roughriders got a 34-yard touchdown reception from Samuel Emilus and two field goals from Lauther.

Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samuel Emilus (right) runs past Toronto Argonauts' Royce Metchie (9) and Mason Pierce (28) during the first half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samuel Emilus (right) runs past Toronto Argonauts' Royce Metchie (9) and Mason Pierce (28) during the first half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.

Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samuel Emilus (right) runs past Toronto Argonauts' Royce Metchie (9) and Mason Pierce (28) during the first half of CFL football action in Regina, on Thursday, July 4, 2024. (Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press)

Deontai Williams had an interception for Saskatchewan. Micah Johnson and Anthony Lanier recorded sacks. 

Ka'Deem Carey scored on a three-yard touchdown run for Toronto with Rasheed Bailey adding a two-point convert. Hajrullahu kicked three field goals for the Argos.

The game was delayed by lightning that occurred midway through the teams' warm-ups.

The players spent almost half an hour in their respective dressing rooms before returning to the field. Kickoff happened 10 minutes later than originally scheduled.

The Argonauts are on the road again July 11 against the Montreal Alouettes. The Roughriders travel to Vancouver for a July 13 date with the B.C. Lions.