It was an up and down weekend for Rider Pride.
It began on a definite high note Friday evening with the 2013 Plaza of Honor induction ceremony as Rider greats Gene Makowsky and Eddie Davis were inducted into the franchise's version of a Hall of Fame.
Makowsky spent 17 seasons in Green & White while Davis toiled for nine campaigns and each player was a vital component of the 2007 Grey Cup championship squad. There were plenty of smiles and laughs as the pair was inducted by Rider defensive coordinator Richie Hall and Assistant GM Jeremy O'Day. The entire 2013 Roughrider team was in attendance as they all heard what it takes to be a champion, and a Hall of Famer.
The dinner drew 1398 patrons to Regina's Credit Union Eventplex and when it was over a cheque for the proceeds amounting $225,000 was presented to the football club.
Then on Sunday Canada's Team got down to business as they hosted the BC Lions in a monumental West Division showdown. With a victory the Riders would earn a share of first-place while a loss meant they'd be alone in third-place.
Chalk it up to the latter.
Rider quarterback Darian Durant gave up two fumbles which the Lions quickly converted into 10 points while kicker Chris Milo hit the upright on two field goals. That all added up to an opportunity for BC kicker Paul McCallum to stroke a 42-yard field goal with no time left, which he did, and the Lions road out of Saskatchewan with a 24-22 victory.
Second-place was theirs while the green guys were left to pick up the pieces.
While the above gaffes likely are the direct result of why the Riders lost the game, Durant could leave the stadium knowing he did more than his fair share to win. When he walked off the field for the last time, with 38 seconds remaining, his team had a 22-21 lead after a last-minute Durant touchdown toss to Weston Dressler.
But it wasn't to be. The loss was gut-wrenching, Saskatchewan's third in a row to drop its record to 8-4, but there was an inspirational scene in the game.
With four minutes left and the Riders down by six, the club recorded a disheartening 2-and-out. However unlike in the past, no one left the building. There were 39,373 souls in the stadium and each one had faith their team could pull it out.
Alas they weren't rewarded. But it was a signal to me that the Rider Nation is still behind their team and will be with them right to the end. No matter how this plays out.
Rider coach Corey Chamblin was as straight forward and honest as I've ever heard him when addressing the media postgame. He admitted that "now is just not our time," and that, due to injuries, the club isn't fielding the same squad which allowed them to race out to a 5-0 start.
"I told the players there's enough doubters outside the room so don't start doubting inside the room," Chamblin said. "We know what we have to do. It's football. It doesn't matter who's playing. We have to be ready to play."
Chamblin asserted that they have a good football team and if they keep pushing, they'll get out of the funk in which they currently find themselves.
Perhaps it was summed up best by the Riders' Taj Smith who led all receivers with 104 yards in the air.
"We just gotta play better football," Smith surmised on our postgame show.
If it were only that easy. But this team which jumped out to the best start in franchise history at 8-1 didn't turn into a bunch of bums overnight.
However the question now is; when will it be their time?
(For daily Rider news follow Rod on Twitter at @sportscage)