Winnipeg Winning Streak Ends
WINNIPEG, MB. – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers couldn’t turn around a horrible first quarter. As a result, their five game winning streak came to an abrupt end on Sunday evening.
Despite a strong defensive effort in the second half, two late turnovers plus an insurmountable Saskatchewan Roughriders advantage was simply too much for the Bombers, who fell 38-24 in the annual Labour Day at the new Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
This is a game that was over early and although the Bombers outscored Saskatchewan 8-4 in the second half, in the end they were just too far behind, far too early, to make up the difference.
“In the first quarter, whew,” said Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “It was a five minute span where we gave up three big plays, that was real tough.”
Former Blue Bombers quarterback Kevin Glenn was the difference in the game. Glenn completed 26-of-36 pass attempts for 386 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, as he put 34 points on the board in the first half and that was quite enough.
Glenn’s favorite targets were Bakari Grant, Naaman Roosevelt and Duron Carter. Each one of the three receivers caught at least six passes for at least 100 yards. Grant caught seven passes for 139 yards, Roosevelt caught six passes for 119 yards and a touchdown and Carter, who made one of the great catches of this CFL season, caught 10 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
But the real work was done by the Roughriders in the first quarter. With the game tied 3-3, Saskatchewan proceeded to score 21 unanswered points to take a 24-3 lead after the first 15 minutes and the Blue Bombers never recovered.
At 5:39, Glenn hit Roosevelt on a 53-yard strike on the play-action fly to give the Riders a 10-3 lead. Then, after Ed Gainey intercepted a Matt Nichols pass on the Bombers 34 and returned it to the four, backup Riders quarterback Vincent Adams Jr. carried one yard to make it 17-3 and then with 57 seconds left in the quarter, Glenn hit Rob Bagg on a nine-yard TD pass to make it 24-3.
From that point on, Winnipeg outscored Saskatchewan 21-14 making it quite likely that Winnipeg will be a more competitive opponent in next Saturday’s Banjo Bowl at Investors Group Field.
After trailing 24-3 at the end of the first quarter, the Bombers outscored the Riders 13-10 in the second quarter and trailed 34-16 at the half. Saskatchewan took a 37-16 lead after three quarters and then the Bombers outscored the Riders 8-1 in the fourth. However, Winnipeg could have put more on the board if Nichols hadn’t thrown an interception to Ed Gainey again, this time at the Saskatchewan goal line. Then Winnipeg’s Kevin Fogg fumbled at the Bombers’ 50. It was recovered by the Riders’ Spencer Moore and while Saskatchewan didn’t get into the end zone, they did run out the clock on Winnipeg.
The Riders won their third straight game and improved to 5-4 while Winnipeg, which had won five in a row, is now 7-3.
Nichols completed 35-of-47 pass attempts for 364 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Andrew Harris carried nine times for 29 yards and caught 10 passes for 72 more. He also caught a touchdown pass. Timothy Flanders led all Bombers receivers with seven catches for 78 yards and the other Bombers touchdown. Weston Dressler, the longtime Rider star, caught six Nichols passes for 64 yards. Darvin Adams caught three passes for 57 yards and Clarence Denmark caught six for 55.
“Losing’s not fun and winning is a lot of fun,” said Nichols. “Sometimes it’s not the worst thing to have something like this happen in the middle of the season. Guys need to get that chip back on their shoulders, work real hard at practice this week and get ready for next week.”
The Bombers and Riders go at it again next Saturday at 2 p.m. CDT in the Banjo Bowl at Investors Group Field. It’s a game that will have a gigantic impact on the Western Division race. And, of course, it’s already sold out.
Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports
Photos by Jeff Miller