RID­ERS’ ROBOKICKER JR. DOES THE TRICK IN WIN

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - ROB VANSTONE rvan­[email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/rob­van­stone

Brett Lau­ther de­liv­ered the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers’ big­gest bailout since the telethon era.

The Roughrid­ers’ of­fence, al­ler­gic to any form of sus­tained suc­cess, moved the foot­ball to the Toronto Arg­onauts’ 36-yard line with slightly more than two min­utes re­main­ing in Sat­ur­day night’s CFL game at BMO Field.

Trail­ing 28-27, the Roughrid­ers needed only to con­trol the foot­ball in sen­si­ble fash­ion be­fore set­ting up Robokicker Jr., Brett Lau­ther, for a go-ahead field goal. In­stead …

First-and-10: Mar­cus Thig­pen was trapped for a loss of one.

Sec­ond-and-11: Zach Col­laros was pe­nal­ized for in­ten­tional ground­ing. Loss of (gulp) 11 yards.

That left Lau­ther to face a 56-yard field-goal at­tempt

— the most im­por­tant kick of his ca­reer. He made it, in typ­i­cally re­li­able fash­ion, to give Saskatchewan a 30-28 lead and, ul­ti­mately, its fifth vic­tory in a span of six games.

The Roughrid­ers es­caped with a 30-29 win and two points af­ter Toronto’s Zack Medeiros was just wide on a 51-yard field­goal at­tempt with two sec­onds re­main­ing. He had flubbed a 36-yarder to con­clude Toronto’s pre­vi­ous pos­ses­sion.

Missed field goals by Medeiros on Sat­ur­day: Two.

Missed field goals by Lau­ther since July 19: Two.

At an as­ton­ish­ing 39-for-42 on the sea­son, Lau­ther has made 92.9 per cent of his field-goal at­tempts.

He is on pace to set a Roughrid­ers sin­gle-sea­son record for ac­cu­racy. For now, the record of 90.6 (set in 1993) is held by the orig­i­nal Robokicker, Dave Ridgway.

He, like Lau­ther, be­came the Roughrid­ers’ full-time place­kicker af­ter an in­jury to the in­cum­bent.

Paul Wat­son, who han­dled Saskatchewan’s kick­ing in 1981, suf­fered a torn Achilles ten­don while play­ing foot­ball dur­ing the off-sea­son.

That freak oc­cur­rence opened the door for Ridgway, who was even­tu­ally wel­comed into the Cana­dian Foot­ball Hall of Fame.

Lau­ther took over as the kicker af­ter Tyler Crapigna was side­lined in June with a leg in­jury that ne­ces­si­tated surgery.

That set­back ini­tially ap­peared to cre­ate a cav­ernous void, con­sid­er­ing Crapigna has an 86.4-per-cent suc­cess rate as a Roughrider.

Dur­ing ex­hi­bi­tion play, Lau­ther went 5-for-5 (in­clud­ing a 55-yarder), but pro­ceeded to miss his first kick of the reg­u­lar sea­son — an em­i­nently mak­able 32-yarder.

Since then, he has evolved into the most con­sis­tent mem­ber of a team that, on Sat­ur­day, could not af­ford the slight­est er­ror — even in a sit­u­a­tion where, con­sid­er­ing the dis­tance of the game-win­ning kick, a miss would have been for­giv­able.

The Roughrid­ers’ de­fence had been as re­li­able as Lau­ther, but some cracks have started to show. Saskatchewan has sur­ren­dered 900 yards over its past two games.

The of­fence, on its fi­nal pos­ses­sion, had put Lau­ther in an un­en­vi­able sit­u­a­tion.

Lau­ther re­sponded by putting his team in con­sid­er­ably bet­ter po­si­tion — sec­ond place, all alone, in the West Di­vi­sion.

If the Roughrid­ers’ fin­ish­ing kick is com­pa­ra­bly im­pres­sive, there will be a play­off game at the new Mo­saic Sta­dium.

And the new Robokicker can take a bow.

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