Saskatchewan Roughriders

- 1979 -

2 Wins 14 Losses - 5th Place West Division

East: W L T F A

Avg Att

Most Outstanding Player David Green (Mtl)
Montreal 11 4 1 351 284   Most Outstanding Canadian Dave Fennell (Edm)
Ottawa 8 6 2 349 315   Most Outstanding Defensive Player Ben Zambiasi (Ham)
Hamilton 6 10 0 280 338   Most Outstanding Lineman Mike Wilson (Edm)
Toronto 5 11 0 234 352   Most Outstanding Rookie Brian Kelly (Edm)
            Coach of the Year Hugh Campbell (Edm)
Edmonton 12 2 2 495 219   Playoffs BC 2 @ Calgary 37
Calgary 12 4 0 382 278     Hamilton 26 @ Ottawa 29
BC 9 6 1 328 333     Ottawa 6 @ Montreal 17
Winnipeg 4 12 0 283 340     Calgary 7 @ Edmonton 19
Saskatchewan 2 14 0 194 437   Grey Cup Edmonton 17 Montreal 9


Joey Walters Touchdown Catch

The Origins of Rider Pride

Rob Vanstone, The Leader-Post October 28, 2009

Since 2007, it has been easy for any follower of the Saskatchewan Roughriders to precisely forecast the attendance -- given the frequency of sellouts.


Back in 1979, the outcome seemed just as predictable.


The Roughriders kept losing ... and losing ... and losing ...


Whether it was games or money, the losses kept accruing. Nearing mid-October, the rebuilding Roughriders had yet to win a game. The attendance at Taylor Field, which had just been expanded to 27,606 seats, generally flirted with an unsatisfactory 20,000.

A typical crowd -- 20,042 -- bravely turned out for what was projected to be the latest in a string of losses for the worst Roughriders team that any fan under 60 can remember watching.


The Roughriders had an 0-12 record heading into an Oct. 14, 1979, Canadian Football League home date with the Edmonton Eskimos, who would soon win their second of five consecutive Grey Cups. If ever a team looked like fodder, it was Saskatchewan on a day that would almost assuredly not be a happy 41st birthday for the team's first-year head coach Ron Lancaster, who had spent the previous 16 seasons as the team's quarterback.


Shockingly, it turned out to be one of those "on any given Sunday'' games.


The contest ended in dramatic fashion, when Edmonton's future Hall of Fame kicker Dave Cutler lined up to attempt a 32-yard, game-winning field goal on the final play. Cutler's kick went wide and was retrieved by Emil Nielsen, who booted the ball out of the end zone to prevent Edmonton from registering a game-tying single.


Tom Wilkinson, who was holding for Cutler, caught the ball and booted it back into the Saskatchewan end zone.


Roughriders kicker Bob Macoritti retrieved Wilkinson's punt and again hoofed it out of danger. Wilkinson caught the ball once more, but did so while out of bounds. Macoritti, meanwhile, was writhing on the turf with a serious knee injury. For everyone else, the victory had alleviated the pain.


"As much as I loved to win and we were able to celebrate and get the monkey off our back for a minute, I was still thinking, 'Let's just keep this in perspective. It's just one win. We've lost 12 of them. Let's not get too carried away here,' '' said Joey Walters, who caught nine passes for 212 yards -- including a 52-yard touchdown pass from Danny Sanders -- on that autumn afternoon.

"We could breathe for a minute, but we were still at the bottom of the pole.''


Fan morale had also descended leading up to the Edmonton game, but the improbable victory ignited a fuse.

John Robertson took notice.


Robertson, who wrote classic sports columns for the Leader-Post in the 1960s, was a sports writer and broadcaster in Winnipeg in 1979. Few Winnipeggers have been inclined to lead a charge in favour of the Roughriders, but Robertson was an exception.

With one home game remaining -- an Oct. 28, 1979, meeting with the B.C. Lions -- Robertson was a key player in "Rider Pride Day.'' The goal was to sell out Taylor Field for what was, according to the standings, a meaningless clash with B.C.


In the 10 days leading up to the game, Robertson made five trips to Regina while paying his own travel and accommodations expenses.

"There is a magnet here,'' he told the crowd at the Roughriders' $200-a-plate dinner. "It's like an old lover I keep coming back to.'' Robertson was offered a $500 speaker's fee, but declined any compensation. He was also a guest on open-line radio shows that were used to sell tickets for the game.


The campaign was an unqualified success. After staring at thousands of empty new seats, game after game after game, the Roughriders were welcomed by 28,012 onlookers -- many of whom were wearing Rider Pride buttons.


The Green and White delivered, much like the fans, by defeating B.C. 26-12. The Roughriders would not win another game that year, finishing 2-14, but the regular-season home finale left an enduring imprint.


"It was good to see that last game come about when they put together the slogan 'Rider Pride' to see the 28,000 at the game,'' Lancaster said in May of 2008. "That was the beginning of Rider Pride.''


And it happened 30 years ago today.




Dave Naylor- Globe Webpage Oct 2, 2007

Former Saskatchewan Roughrider running back Kenton Keith had his best NFL day on Sunday when he carried 10 times for 80 yards in the Indianpolis Coltsí win over Denver.

Late in the game, CBS broadcaster's Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were discussing Keith's days in Saskatchewan when a little-known tale of Simms brush with the Roughriders came up.

Turns out that the Roughies were very interested in Simms in 1979 when he was coming out of Moorehead State University. So much so that they sent assistant coach Mike Murphy to the school to pitch Simms on the idea of foregoing the NFL and coming to Saskatchewan.

Murphy, interestingly, is now the Colts linebackers coach, so CBS put him on camera as Simms told his story.

"And he brought someone with him, a guy named Ron Lancaster," said Simms on the broadcast.

Lancaster had retired after the 1978 season and was hired as Saskatchewan's head coach the following year.

Simms apparently turned down substantial money from Saskatchewan to enter the NFL draft where he went seventh overall to the New York Giants.

It seems the Roughriders could have used Simms back in '79. Their leading passer that season was someone named Danny Sanders who completed 65 passes for just over 1,000 yards.


1979 Team Statistics



  Passing           Rushing    
Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg C Yds Avg Lg TD
Danny Sanders 133 65 1,024 48.8 4 7 52 5 6 1.2 5 0
Tom Clements 159 81 994 50.9 2 11 49 22 101 4.6 18 0
Lloyd Patterson 113 40 533 35.4 1 12 70 21 109 5.2 15 1
Larry Dick 68 39 523 57.4 1 5 65 7 46 6.6 20 0
Craig Juntunen 27 16 376 59.3 2 1 96 1 4 4.0 4 0


Running Back

  Rushing         Receiving  
C Yds Avg Lg TD C Yds Avg Lg TD
Mike Strickland 176 770 4.4 28 4 43 406 9.4 30 2
Harlan Huckleby 58 259 4.0 22 1 10 37 3.7 11 0
John Kinch 23 92 4.0 21 0 8 88 11.0 21 1
Reg Boudreau 6 30 5.0 12 0 3 20 6.7 12 0
Jim Duncan 11 12 1.1 7 0 1 8 8.0 8 0
Vickey Ray Anderson 4 17 4.3 6.0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0



  Receiving       Punt Return  
C Yds Avg Lg TD No Yds Avg Lg TD
Joey Walters 40 772 19.3 52 4 5 62 12.4 16 0
Willie Wilder 14 397 28.4 96 2          
Steve Mazurak 29 358 12.3 32 0          
Gerry Fellner 19 260 13.7 32 0          
Rodney Parker 10 232 23.2 65 0          
Freeman Johns 13 213 16.4 49 1          
Lawrie Skolrood 14 189 13.5 42 0          
David Quehl 11 139 12.6 21 0 1 8 8.0 8 0
Kelvin Kirk 9 85 9.4 16 0 14 205 14.6 26 0



Conv     Field Goal      
A G % A G % LG Pts
Bob Macoritti 10 10   26 14 54 49 66



Taylor Field

Avg Att: 21,143


Week 1 v BC

British Columbia 28


Att: 19,030

A seemingly-weak offensive effort spoiled Ron Lancaster's debut as coach of the Roughriders, as three second-half touchdowns, two by RB Larry Key, put the Lions on top


Week 2 @ Edmonton


Saskatchewan 20

Att: 43,231

Edmonton WR Waddell Smith romped through the defense, as he caught 10 passes for 232 yards and scored two TDs, as the Eskimos rolled up 559 yards on offense


Week 3 v Hamilton

Hamilton 24


Att: 19,759

Hamilton could muster just seven points in the first three quarters, then exploded for 17 in the fourth. Zac Henderson made an end-zone interception with 14 seconds left to clinch


Week 4 @ British Columbia


Saskatchewan 15

Att: 23308

The Lions recorded their fourth straight win thanks to Lui Passaglia who kicked five FGs. RB Larry Key scored the Lions' lone TD with 1:34 left in the game


Week 5 - Bye


Week 6 @ Toronto


Saskatchewan 12

Att: 41,251

Terry Metcalf and Mike McArthur scored a TD each for Toronto's first win over Saskatchewan since 1974. Metcalf scored on a 10-yard pass and McArthur's TD came on a five-yard run


Week 7 v Calgary

Calgary 6


Att: 20,790

Penalties and flaring Calgary tempers forced the Stamps to punt from their own 26 in the final seconds. A Rider attempt at a single and a tie by kicking the ball back failed 


Week 8 @ Winnipeg


Saskatchewan 1

Att: 25,159

Mike Holmes hauled in six passes for 107 yards, with two of his receptions from Dieter Brock good for TDs of 47 and 13 yards. Walt Passaglia scored the other Winnipeg major


v Winnipeg

Winnipeg 28


Att: 22,190

The Riders took another financial bath with the crowd, with rumors the team will lose $450,000. Mike Holmes, Dieter Brock and Gord Paterson scored the Bombers TDs 


Week 9 @ Edmonton


Saskatchewan 0

Att: 40,231

The Eskimos ran up 39 points in the first half, as QB Warren Moon, in his first start of the season, directed the Eskimos for five first-half TDs, two from RB Jim Germany


Week 10 v Calgary

Calgary 52


Att: 20,021

Calvin Kirk scored two TDs in his first game since coming over from the Riders, who suffered their 10th straight loss. Calgary's Willie Burden scored three TDs


Week 11 @ Montreal


Saskatchewan 3

Att: 35,240

 David Green picked up 129 yards on 25 carries to become the first rusher to pass the 1,000-yard mark. He ran 17 yards for the only TD in the third


Week 12 - Bye


Week 13 v Ottawa

Ottawa 20


Att: 19,300

The Roughies continued their winless ways thanks to a failed two-point conversion attempt on the final play of the game


Week 14 v Edmonton


Edmonton 25

Att: 20,042

After Dave Cutler missed a 32-yard FG, Emil Nielson booted the ball out of the end zone, but Tom Wilkinson kicked it back. P Bob Macoritti kicked the ball back for the win. 


Week 15 @ Winnipeg


Saskatchewan 14

Att: 22,033

Dieter Brock completed 21 of 36 passes for 248 yards and two TDs. The rest was up to league scoring leader Bernie Ruoff, who kicked three FGs, a convert and a 54-yard single


Week 16 v British Columbia


Brit Col 12

Att: 28,012

Before a record crowd, CB Frank Dark intercepted a Joe Paopao pass and returned it 100 yards for a TD to give Saskatchewan an early lead and the Roughriders were never in trouble


Week 18 @ Calgary


Saskatchewan 8

Att: 30,654

QB Ken Johnson had a big day for the Stamps completing 14 of 20 passes for 305 yards and four TDs. He received 105 yards on one play when he teamed with Willie Armstead