Sunday, August 31, 2014

Allen leads Riders to win in Labour Day Classic

Regina, SK. -- Behind a pair of touchdowns by Anthony Allen, the second with 28 seconds to play, the Saskatchewan Roughriders came from behind to win the Labour Day Classic 30-25 over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in front of 33,427 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

Winnipeg took the opening possession and ground out a drive that took them into scoring position. On the 8th play of the possession, a ball deflected in the end zone by Woodny Turenne was intercepted by Mark LeGree and the Riders were successful in turning away the Bomber threat. Winnipeg was able to push Saskatchewan back, forcing them to punt out of their own end zone. The Blue Bombers, aided by a major no yards penalty, took over in great position, at the Roughriders' 31. Three plays later, Nic Grigsby scored his league-leading 8th touchdown of the season on a 6 yard run and with the Lirim Hajrullahu convert, Winnipeg was up 7-0, exactly halfway through the opening quarter. Two possessions later, Saskatchewan started moving the football, crossing centre field for the first time, as the quarter came to an end.

The Rider drive reached the 41 yard drive, where a second down pass fell incomplete. Chris Milo came on and bounced a 48 yard field goal attempt off the upright, leaving Saskatchewan scoreless and down by 7 early in the second period. After a couple of penalties and a Rickey Foley sack pushed the Bombers back, a low snap bounced back to Hajrullahu, who was forced to take a knee in the end zone, slicing the Winnipeg lead to 7-2, 3:19 into the second. After going for just one first down on their next turn with the ball, The Roughriders' Josh Bartel got off a beauty of a rugby-style punt, with the Blue Bomber returner being shoved out of bounds at his 3 yard line. Winnipeg went 2-and-out and Hajrullahu took a knee again, making it a 7-4 game with 7:48 remaining 'til two-quarter time. A big return on the ensuing kick by Tristan Jackson set Saskatchewan up in Bomber territory at the 28 yard line. A pass to Jerome Messam took the ball to the 6, then Will Ford went the rest of the way through the left side, for the Riders' first major of the game. Milo converted and Saskatchewan was up 11-7, with 6:19 left in the second. Later on, a shanked punt and good return gave the Riders the ball at the Winnipeg 53. A good mix of pass and run took the ball down inside the 10, where, on third down, Milo would kick a 17 yard field goal with 1:02 to play, putting Saskatchewan up 14-7.

Early in the third quarter, Foley sacked Drew Willy, stripping him of the ball in the process, giving the Roughriders the ball at the Bomber 43. Willy rolled an ankle on the play and had to be helped off the field. Saskatchewan quickly moved into the red zone, where on second down from the 6, Tino Sunseri bulldozed his way for a first down just across the 5. Messam ran to the 3, then Anthony Allen slid over right tackle and just across the goal line for his fourth major of the season. Milo converted and with 8:25 remaining in the third, the Riders were up by two touchdowns, at 21-7. Winnipeg returned the ensuing kick across the 50, then quickly moved deep into Saskatchewan territory. On a second down play, Willy would sprint up the middle on a quarterback draw for 11 yards and a touchdown, capping a 6 play, 59 yard drive. Hajrullahu kicked the convert and the Rider lead was down to 7 at 21-14, with 4:19 left in the third. After holding Saskatchewan to a 2-and-out, the Blue Bombers' Troy Stoudermire brought the punt back 64 yards down the right sideline for a major. Hajrullahu converted and with 2:38 remaining in the third, the game was tied, 21-21. After another two-and-out by the Riders, Winnipeg took over at their own 41, reaching just across the 50 as the third quarter came to a close.

The drive continued to start the fourth, as Robert Marve snuck for a first down. Four plays later, pressure stopped the drive at the 26, where, from there, Hajrullahu would kick a 33 yard field goal, putting the Bombers back on top, 24-21, 3:34 into the final period. Winnipeg blocked a Bartel punt at the end of Saskatchewan's next possession, recovering the ball at the Roughrider 43 near the 6 minute mark. They would turn it into three points, as Hajrullahu booted a 46 yard field goal with 7:48 remaining, giving  the Bombers a 27-21 advantage. Saskatchewan would regain the lead on the next possession, as Darian Durant would hit a wide-open Taj Smith for a catch-and-run 59 yard touchdown. Milo kicked the convert with 5:19 remaining in regulation time, putting the Roughriders back on top, 28-27. Winnipeg would start their next turn with the ball at the 27, getting a 23 yard run from Grigsby on first down. A pass interference penalty on the next play moved the ball to the Saskatchewan 43. After a pair of runs by Carl Volny moved the ball to the 36, Hajrullahu came on and kicked a 43 yard field goal, moving the Blue Bombers back into the lead at 30-28, with 2:58 to go in the fourth quarter. Durant jump started the Roughriders' next possession by scampering for 9 yards on second down, then yielding to Sunseri, who snuck for 1 yard and a first down at the 46, with 2:32 left. A pass to Rob Bagg moved the ball to the Winnipeg 51, Durant ran for 9 yards to the 42, then Messam dove to the 39 for the first down with 1:43 remaining in regulation time. On the next play, Messam blew up the middle behind Dan Clark to the 23. Allen then ran to the 15 with 55 seconds left, then on the next play Durant handed off to Allen, who went the distance, spinning his way to the goal line. The play survived review and with the Milo convert at the end of the 9 play, 75 yard drive, Saskatchewan was up 35-30, with 28 seconds left. Stoudermire ran the kick back to the Winnipeg 31, with 20 second left. After a Rider time out, Nick Moore caught a pass to the 51 with 15 seconds left, Rory Kohlert caught a ball to the Roughrider 51, then, on the game's final play, a Willy pass for Clarence Denmark was knocked away just shy of the goal line, giving Saskatchewan their 10th straight Labour Day Classic win, 35-30.

For the Roughriders, Darian Durant was 14-of-26 for 204 yards and 1 touchdown plus 3 runs for 28 yards, Jerome Messam ran 6 times for 64 yards, while catching 2 balls for 35 yards. Anthony Allen ran 7 times for 38 yards and 2 majors, while Will Ford rushed 7 times for 26 yards and a touchdown.Taj Smith caught just 2 balls, but they went for 78 yards and a touchdown, Chris Milo was 1-of-2 on field goals and 4-of-4 on converts, Josh Bartel punted 5 times for a 44.8 yard average and Brian Peters made 5 tackles and 3 special teams tackles, Tyron Brackenridge contributed 7 tackles and an interception. For the Blue Bombers, Drew Willy was 15-of-23 passing for 171 yards and 1 interception, plus 2 carries for 21 yards and a touchdown. Nic Grigsby ran 15 times for 68 yards and a major, Nick Moore caught 6 passes for 90 yards, Lirim Hajrullahu was 3-of-3 on field goals and 3-of-3 on converts, while punting 2 times for a 42.5 yard average. Ian Wild led the defence with 7 tackles.

Up next for the 7-2 Saskatchewan Roughriders is the Banjo Bowl at the 6-4 Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Sunday, September 7th. Kickoff at Investors Group Field is set for 4:00pm EDT. Catch all the action with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri on 620 CKRM, the Rider Radio Network and The game can be seen in Canada on TSN and in the U.S. on ESPN.

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