Thursday, August 7, 2014

Defence leads Riders to big win at Winnipeg

Winnipeg, MB. -- The Saskatchewan Roughriders scored 17 points off five Winnipeg turnovers Thursday night, the biggest being a late pick six by Terrell Maze, leading the Riders to a 23-17 win over the Blue Bombers at a sold-out crowd of 33,234 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.

After a couple of first downs to start the game, Winnipeg's first possession was ended by an interception by the Riders' Mark LeGree, on a ball that was tipped first by Macho Harris. Saskatchewan would turn the pick into the first points of the night, as Chris Milo sneaked a 42 yard field goal just inside the left upright for a 3-0 lead, with 7:46 remaining in the opening quarter. The Blue Bombers would tie it up late in the quarter, as Lirim Hajrullahu kicked a 41 yard field goal, knotting the contest at 3-3, with 1:12 to play in the first.

The two teams pounded on each other hard throughout the second quarter, but aided by penalties on the Rider secondary, Winnipeg would go 99 yards in 14 plays, with Drew Willy scrambling the final 7 yards for the game's first major. Hajrullahu added the convert and the Bombers went up 10-3, with 5:07 left 'til two quarter time. After pinning Winnipeg deep in their own end late in the half, Saskatchewan got the ball at the Blue Bomber 35. However, a 13 man penalty moved them out of field goal and forced them into a punting situation. A poor kick by Josh Bartel, combined with a 15 yard no yards calls, set up Winnipeg at their own 35, with just over a minute to go.The Bombers couldn't do anything with the ball, eventually punting the ball away in the final minute. The Riders would go two and out and the half would end after another Bartel punt and the teams would retire to halftime, with Winnipeg leading by 7, 10-3.

Both teams struggled to mount any offence in the third quarter, but it was the Saskatchewan "D" that would rise to the occasion, with Tearrius George forcing Willy to fumble at the 25, with David Lee rolling onto the ball at the 17, then getting up and running it into the end zone. The Milo convert tied the game 10-10, with 1:59 to play in the third. The Riders would force a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, with Chaz Schilens recovering at the Bomber 14. Saskatchewan would reach the 3 yard line as the quarter came to an end, with the game tied 10-10.

Not willing to take a gamble in a tight game, Coach Corey Chamblin sent in Milo for a 10 yard field goal just 15 seconds into the final period, putting the Roughriders back on top by 3, 13-10. Hajrullahu would sneak a punt across the goal line for a 50 yard single with 2:04 gone in the fourth, bringing Winnipeg to within 2, at 13-11. On their next possession, Saskatchewan drove via the legs of Jerome Messam into field goal range, where Milo would connect from 40 yards out with 7:19 left in regulation, giving the Riders a 16-11 lead. Willy would air one out on the next possession to Clarence Denmark, getting the Bombers down to the 12. On the next play, Willy found Rory Kohlert in the right side of the end zone for the major. The two point convert failed, leaving the Winnipeg lead at 1, 17-16, with exactly 5:00 remaining. Messam would lug the ball with authority on Saskatchewan's next turn with the ball, quickly driving into Blue Bomber territory. The drive would stall at the 54, forcing the Roughriders into a punting situation as the game reached the three-minute warning. After reaching the 25, Willy's pass to the left sideline was picked off by Terrell Maze, who stayed on his feet and rambled 25 yards for the touchdown. The two-point convert was no good, but Saskatchewan was back on top 22-17, with 2:16 yet to play. A long return and a penalty set up the Bombers at the Roughrider 51, with 2:10 remaining. Willy threw deep on second down, overthrowing his intended target. LeGree picked it off, returning it to the Winnipeg 51 with 1:53 to go. After one first down, Milo would come on for a 30 yard field goal attempt. The kick was wide left, resulting in just a single point, leaving the Saskatchewan lead at 23-17, with 30 seconds to play. A penalty for over the line on Willy forced the ball back to the 20. A short pass netted little, forcing Willy to cast one deep on the game's final play. Willy instead went for a medium pass and a rugby play, but it didn't work, allowing the Riders to escape with the 23-17 win.

For Saskatchewan, Darian Durant was 13-of-21 passing for 115 yards. Jerome Messam had a huge second half, running 19 times for 126 yards. Chris Getzlaf caught 3 passes for 37 yards, Rob Bagg 4 for 31, David Lee ran in a fumble recovery for a touchdown, Chris Milo was 3-of-5 on field goals, had one convert and a single and Josh Bartel punted 9 times for a 43.2 yard average. Tyron Brackenridge and Weldon Brown each had 7 tackles and John Chick had 5 tackles and 3 sacks. Chick now leads the CFL with 9 sacks on the season. The Riders won the turnover stat, 6-0. For the Bombers, Drew Willy was 23-of-39 passing for 303 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Willy was also the leading rusher with 2 carries for 21 yards and a touchdown. Clarence Denmark caught 6 passes for 127 yards, Nic Grigsby caught 7 passes for 61 yards and Rory Kohlert hauled in 3 balls for 55 yards and a major. Lirim Hajrullahu was 1-of-1 on both field goals and converts and punted 7 times for a 43.7 yard average. Defencively, Demond Washington had 8 tackles and 1 special teams tackle. Saskatchewan had 12 first downs, 0 turnovers and possessed the ball for 29:51. They took 17 penalties for 173 yards. Winnipeg had 20 first downs, 6 turnovers, held the ball for 30:09 and took 8 penalties for 73 yards.

Next up for the 4-2 Riders is a week eight match up at home against the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday, August 16th. Game time at Mosaic Stadium is 7:00pm EDT. Catch all the action with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri on 620 CKRM, the Rider Radio Network and The game can be see in Canada on TSN and in the U.S. on 5-2 The Blue Bombers next play at Toronto on Tuesday, August 12th.

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