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Football Roughriders defence dominates early in 40-18 win over Redblacks

Ottawa Redblacks running back John Crockett (32) is brought down by the Saskatchewan Roughriders defense during first half CFL action in Regina, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.

Matt Smtih/The Canadian Press

The Saskatchewan Roughriders capitalized on three first-quarter interceptions to build an early 20-0 lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish in a 40-18 victory over the reeling Ottawa Redblacks on Saturday.

Nick Marshall, L.J. McCray and Derrick Moncrief picked off Dominique Davis on Ottawa’s first three possessions.

Those turnovers quickly turned into points for Cody Fajardo and the Riders offence. William Powell and Fajardo each rushed for touchdowns and Brett Lauther added a field goal as the Riders jumped out to a 17-0 lead.

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Powell had two touchdowns in the game and a game-high 70 yards against his former team.

Fajardo completed 24-of-36 pass attempts for 241 yards and one touchdown to go along with his rushing major. He is 6-2 as a starter this season.

Saskatchewan has won five consecutive games and improved to 6-3, good for a second-place tie with the Edmonton Eskimos in the West Division.

Ottawa’s skid continued. The Redblacks have just one win in their past eight games and dropped to 3-7.

Backup Jonathon Jennings was summoned to replace Davis at quarterback after the third interception.

Jennings connected with Dominique Rhymes for a 75-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to get Ottawa within reach at 21-12.

Jennings finished with 208 yards passing.

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Lauther’s third field goal of the first half gave the Riders a 24-12 lead at halftime.

After Lewis Ward’s fourth field goal brought Ottawa to within 10 at 25-15 midway through the third quarter, the Riders responded with a knockout blow.

Fajardo guided the Riders on a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by a 15-yard touchdown catch from Naaman Roosevelt. Fajardo was 6 for 6 passing for 71 yards on that drive. It was Fajardo’s first touchdown pass since July 27.

Saskatchewan led 32-15 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Saskatchewan will host the first-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Sunday, the first of a home-and-home versus the team they trail by four points in the West Division.

Ottawa enters a bye week. The Redblacks return home Sept. 7 to take on Toronto.

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