Riders, Bombers Tie in Pre-Season Opener
REGINA, SK – Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea had a great opportunity to look all sorts of young football players on Saturday night.
In a Canadian Football League practice game at the new Mosaic Field in Regina – the first game ever played in the new structure — the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers played to a 25-25 tied. As is expected in these pre-season contests, the outcome wasn’t as important as the coaches’ ability to see who could play at the CFL level and who could not.
And for O’Shea, he got a good look at some people who do not look out of place. Like quarterback Dan LeFevour, who played a strong seven minutes at the end of the game and brought the Bombers back from 22-10 down to a 25-22 lead. QB Dominique Davis put up the other Bombers score (earlier in the game when the quality of player in the Riders defense was better) so the No. 2 job in Winnipeg is still up for grabs.
The final few minutes of the game were wild. The Bombers were down 12, scored two touchdowns – the second thanks to a turnover – and with a two-point conversion went ahead 25-22. But Saskatchewan booted a field goal with eight seconds left and the fans went home booing – they wanted OT.
In the end, it was a much better football game than it should have been thanks to LeFevour’s two TD passes in the final three minutes. In fact, the score of the game can pretty much be summed up this way: The Roughriders, both offensively and defensively, dominated the game
before LeFevour, a former Hamilton Tiger-Cats starter, put together to TD drives, including a two-point conversion, late in the fourth quarter to give Winnipeg the lead. Then Quinn Van Gylswyk kicked a 38-yard field goal to tie the game with eight seconds left to play. And we have a tie. Fitting perhaps, since the game’s outcome doesn’t really mean anything, anyway.
What matters, in a game in which four very recent members of the Winnipeg High School Football League — Andrew Rickard,Elmwood; Derek Yachison, Murdoch McKay; Xander Tachynski, St Paul’s; and Abdul Conte, Kildonan East — suited up for the Bombers, is who played well.
Oh yeah, this was a game in which a Canadian quarterback named Brandon Bridge started for the Riders and he completed 20-of-26 pass attempts and threw one touchdown pass, to the remarkably talented former Montreal Alouettes inconsistent star Duron Carter.
Van Gylswyk kicked four field goals on four attempts for the Riders while Tyler Crapigna kicked two as Saskatchewan didn’t get into the end zone very often, but they obviously got close enough. Justin Medlock kicked a 12-yard field goal for Winnipeg.
Matt Nichols started for Winnipeg and went five-for-eight for 32 yards while Davis went five-for-eight for 90 yards and a touchdown. Newcomer Austin Apodaca went two-for-six for 15 yards and will likely be gone this week.
Kendall Roberson carried six times for Winnipeg for 36 yards, Timothy Flanders carried five times for 33 yards and the three quarterbacks each carried once for short yardage.
Reveiver Ryan Lankford caught four passes for 47 yards while Terrance Lowder caught one for 39 yards, young Yachison caught two for 33 yards, Quinshad Davis caught three for 24 and Justice Liggins caught one for 24 yards and a late LeFevour TD.
Although young players such as WR Lankford, who caught one of LeFevour’s TD passes, and RB Roberson, were quite impressive, it was LeFevour who was the story. He not only drove the Bombers into the end zone for 15 points late in the game (OK, against a third-string secondary), he completed seven-of-nine passes for 88 yards in the process.
“Dan had a spark and he certainly moved the offence and created some points for us,” Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea told the media after the game. “He’s experienced. He goes in and he’s calm and he runs the offence. We’ll have to see if the execution is there, but I’m sure it was. He moves well in the pocket, too, and gives us a different dimension there as well.”
Like Davis, LeFevour is going to make the team and back up starter Matt Nichols. We’ll likely see Nichols get at least half the game this coming Thursday night when the Bombers face the Edmonton Eskimos in the final practice game of the spring at Investors Group Field. He’ll face much tougher competition than LeFevour beat like a rented mule on Saturday night.
Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports
Photo by Jeff Miller