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(Friday, June 29th)
Final Score: Saskatchewan 43, Hamilton 16
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - Weston Dressler caught 13 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns as he sparked the Saskatchewan Roughriders to an overwhelming 43-16 victory against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to kick off the 2012 CFL campaign at Ivor Wynn Stadium.
Saskatchewan (1-0) quarterback Darian Durant, who registered a total of just 18 passing scores a year ago, finished the contest 25-of-34 for 390 yards and four TD strikes for the Roughriders as they provided new head coach Corey Chamblin his first victory.
"It was all about playing fast," Chamblin said of his team's efforts. "They just kept playing fast all night and we were successful. I was proud of our guys. I told them it wasn't just one guy, it was everyone tonight."
The Tiger-Cats (0-1) were paced by running back Chevon Walker who gained 133 yards and scored once on seven attempts, one of those carries being an 89-yard gallop into the end zone. Quarterback Henry Burris, formerly of the Calgary Stampeders, converted 28-of-39 for 284 yards but failed to tally a major for the hosts in his first game with his new club.
"Rome wasn't built in a day," was how Burris referenced his team's first outing. "We didn't finish our drives and when the other team scores we gotta come back and put points up."
Receiver Chris Williams logged a career-best nine receptions for 109 yards in the losing effort as well.
The first points of the 2012 CFL slate came courtesy of Dressler who slipped out into the right flat and reeled in a short screen from Durant, then turning up field to complete the eight-yard major.
"Our coaches did a great job of putting the game plan together," Dressler commented after his big night. "Everybody played well...Darian got the offense going and it just kept going. He found holes and he kept moving the team down the field."
On the ensuing drive by the Tiger-Cats, Burris hooked up with Williams three times, but the hosts had to settle for a 41-yard field goal by Luca Congi to cut the deficit to 7-3.
With 10:15 remaining in the second frame Congi again finished off another stalled drive by Hamilton, knocking through a 23-yard field goal to make the score 7-6.
Saskatchewan responded immediately, thanks in part to a questionable reception by Dressler that turned into a 52-yard gain. Two plays later Durant floated a ball into the waiting hands of Chris Getzlaf for a 25-yard major.
The 'Cats wasted little time in their response as Walker took the first snap from scrimmage and raced 89 yards down the left side to the end zone, making the score 14-13 in favor of the visitors.
Hamilton appeared to have taken the lead on a lengthy TD strike from Burris to Williams, but the play was called back due to a blocking penalty. Instead of punting the ball away, Josh Bartel conceded in the end zone, adding two points to Saskatchewan's advantage which stood at 16-13 at the break.
The Roughriders extended their lead to double-digits to open the third quarter as Durant connected with Dressler on a 22-yard scoring strike, pushing the score to 23-13 moments into the second half.
The teams traded field goals later in the period as Congi converted a 37-yard effort and Chris Milo booted a 48-yard kick for the Riders to make the score 26-16.
With time running down in the third, Durant and Dressler locked up yet again for the Roughriders, the pair delivering on a five-yard TD strike to boost the score to 33-16 heading into the final period.
Saskatchewan appeared poised to march in for yet another touchdown as Dressler continued to make spectacular plays, but after one lengthy gain that pushed the ball deep into enemy territory, the Roughriders were hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on lineman Chris Patrick. Not only was Patrick ejected, the Riders were pushed back 25 yards and had to settle for a 41-yard field goal by Milo.
The Roughriders continued to pile on late in the contest as Kory Sheets broke to the outside and found the end zone on a 14-yard scamper with less than two minutes remaining to make the score 43-16.
"There's just no excuses, we did not do a good job," acknowledged Hamilton linebacker Renauld Williams. "We gave them (the Roughriders) a lot of open space and they moved the ball."
Last season Dressler had his best game in the opener, delivering seven catches for 109 yards...Congi, who missed all of last season, spent the first six years of his career with Saskatchewan before signing with Hamilton as a free agent in March...Fantuz was a member of the Roughriders for the first six years of his career, although he played just four games a year ago...Burris moved into sixth place on the all-time passing yardage list in the CFL, surpassing Doug Flutie who threw for 41,355 yards in his career...The Riders entered the meeting having won 14 of the last 16 regular-season matchups with Hamilton.
06/29 22:51:51 ET