May 25, 2024

GAME RECAP | Roughriders 28, Elks 27

EDMONTON – A game let slip through their fingers.

The Elks preseason debut was a case of close but no cigar, with the Roughriders coming away with a 28-27 victory at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

However, there were a lot of promising signs for fans entering the season. Edmonton dominated on offence and on defence, outgaining the Roughriders by a 411-191 margin, but five turnovers (one interception, four fumbles) by the Elks offence and special teams was the difference on the day.

Rookie kicker Vincent Blanchard was given the opportunity to win the game late for the Elks with an ambitious 57-yard field goal attempt, but the kick was pushed just wide.

“Well, we were able to evaluate about 80 something guys, and I thought that was the main thing,” General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones said. “That’s why you play the preseason games, is to be able to evaluate and so we got a really good look at at three of our quarterbacks.”

The Elks wrap up their preseason on Friday, May 31 when they travel to B.C. to take on the Lions.



New Elks quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson got the start for the Elks, and had a solid showing in his first showing in the Green and Gold.

The QB was able to rack up the yards, connecting on 17 of 25 passes for 190 yards in his half of action. Bethel-Thompson showed off many of the traits that had Head Coach and General Manager Chris Jones calling him in the offseason, operating the Double E’s offence efficiently on the day.

“I’ve got to be able to trust that I know where they’re going. I’ve got to throw the ball before they’re open and put it to space, and I think that we did that a number of times,” Bethel-Thompson said about his wide receivers. 

The lone interception thrown by the Elks QB came off a hard luck bounce with a tipped pass landing on a plate for the Riders Antoine Brooks Jr., who returned it for the touchdown.


With the Elks trailing by a score to start the second half, QB Tre Ford looked to engineer a little bit of the magic that caught so many eyes around the CFL last season.

Ford showed off his elusiveness before directing Jerminic Smith to go deep. The Canadian pivot unfurled a deep pass to the rookie wideout which Smith looked to have caught and landed in bounds for the score, however the ball squeaked out as he landed in the white paint for the long incompletion.

Jerminic Smith (#81) clings on to a pass ruled incomplete for a touchdown in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Roughriders

It was still an impressive preseason debut for the Waterloo product. Ford finished his preseason appearance with a solid 12 of 14 passing, for 121 yards. The 26-year-old was also the Elks leading rusher, with two carries for 20 yards.

Ford was instrumental in the Elks second half offence, engineering a 69-yard touchdown in the third quarter that was drive that was capped off by a two-yard sneak by Trey Woodward Low.


Where the Elks excelled on Saturday was the defensive side of the ball.

The Roughriders offence was held to only 191 yards on the afternoon, with 20 of their points coming directly off turnovers. The Double E’s young defensive line showed off the promise that Coach Jones hoped they might, with Elliott Brown, Eric Black, and Joe Jackson all hauling down Roughriders QBs for sacks. The unit were just as stout in run defence, allowing only 71 yards on the ground on 17 carries.

“(The offence) spotted that team 14 points, so they didn’t move the ball much,” Bethel-Thompson said about the defence. “Obviously, it wasn’t their first guys out there but it’s still a good football team full of good football players. It’s very exciting what we’re building here and if the defense can keep that rolling, we’re excited for what’s coming.”

Eric Black (#94) celebrates a sack on Saskatchewan quarterback Shea Patterson for the loss


  • Eugene Lewis and McLeod Bethel-Thompson showed off some good chemistry early on, with the receiver hauling in 5 of 7 passes for 62 yards in only 30 minutes of football.
  • Elks DL Elliott Brown looks poised for a solid 2024, as the athletic defensive lineman picked up three tackles and a sack in his starting role.
  • LB Nick Anderson got the start for the Elks at weak-side linebacker and made a solid impact. The Tulane product collected four tackles, two for loss on the day.
  • Canadian wideout Hergy Mayala made a strong case for playing time this season, leading the Elks in receiving with 90 yards on six receptions on the day.
  • Edmonton’s offensive line was up to the task of the Saskatchewan pass rush, allowing zero sacks in the contest.


McLeod Bethel-Thompson on the Elks offensive line

“I thought it was absolutely awesome. I felt comfortable in the pocket. My goal is to get the ball out early and make their lives easier and then when I do need to extend. They were making some nice holes so I felt comfortable back there.”

Bethel-Thompson on the Elks receiving core

“I love the whole receiving corps. I mean, first team, second team, we got guys that are dynamic catchers of the ball. They’re great route runners and they understand where to be.”

Bethel-Thompson on the Elks receiving core

“We’re a dynamic team, first team and second team. We’re pushing the ball down the field. We’ve got guys understanding where they got to be — the route depth was good. It’s a little bit more discipline to sustain drives.

We get down to the red zone a couple times, we have got to score seven. If we do that early and we put this team away. So obviously I think it’s gonna be a great film to watch. There’s a lot to correct, but there should be some excitement about what we’re building.”

Head Coach Chris Jones on not calling the defence

“I mean, it’s the first time in 20-something years. A lot of these kids, weren’t even born when at that time that I didn’t call a game. It’s been a long time, so it’s hard to do, but I hired Jason Shivers for a reason.  I let those guys do their job, and Jason’s doing a good job.”

Chris Jones on the turnovers on special teams

“It wasn’t just early on. We did one right there at the end of the game. It happened in both halves where you can’t fumble. The decision making to field the ball at the one or two-yard line, that’s inexcusable as well. So we’ve got to get 22 (Javon Leake) schooled up on that more and take good football to the field, because each one of those mistakes is essentially the difference in the ball game.”