Sunday, September 7, 2014

Riders win Banjo Bowl by 6

Winnipeg, MB. -- The Saskatchewan Roughriders would come from behind early, stretching their win streak to seven for the first time since 1970, in beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 30-24 Sunday in the annual Banjo Bowl game in front of 33,234 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.

The game started out with Winnipeg moving the ball just across midfield, where the drive would stall at the Rider 50. Lirim Hajrullahu then cam on and pinned Saskatchewan back at their 1. The Roughriders would fire out of their own end with a mixture on pass and run plays, getting into position for a 35 yard field goal attempt by Chris Milo. Milo would miss wide left but got the single, giving Saskatchewan a 1-0 lead, with 6:02 to play in the opening quarter. The Bombers responded with a 12 yard run by Nic Grigsby at the end of a 90 yard drive. Hajrullahu kicked the convert and Winnipeg was up 7-1, with 1:48 to go in the first. On their next possession, the Riders turned it over on a Tino Sunseri fumble, coming on a third and inches play at their own 38, with 25 seconds left in the quarter.

After a pair of Drew Willy passes fell incomplete to end the first period, Hajrullahu came on to kick a 45 yard field goal. Weldon Brown burst through and blocked the kick. Rod Williams picked it up and ran it back 65 yards for the major. Milo converted, giving Saskatchewan an 8-7 lead just 25 seconds into the second quarter. The Bombers responded, keyed by a 65 yard catch and run by Romby Bryant, Hajrullahu tied it with a 49 yard punt single, 8-8, with 10:59 to play in the half. On the next Winnipeg possession, a snap on third-and-long at the 22 sailed over the head of Hajrullahu, who kicked it over the end line. The safety, with 8:11 remaining in the first half, gave  the Roughriders a 10-8 lead. The ensuing kick was ran out to the 45 by Will Ford, then moved to the Blue Bomber 28, where Milo would kick a 35 yard field goal, extending the Saskatchewan lead to 13-8, with 8:11 to go 'til two quarter time. A 6 play, 58 yard drive on their next possession netted more points, as Anthony Allen broke a tackle and ran it in from 13 yards out. The Milo convert, with 1:33 left in the half, pushed the Rider lead to 20-8. Saskatchewan wasn't done, as Weston Dressler took a late punt back 75 yards for a major, weaving his way through blue shirts to the end zone. Milo kicked the convert, giving the Riders a 27-8 lead, 38 seconds until the halftime break.

Saskatchewan, which won the toss and deferred, elected to kick off to start the second half. Winnipeg quickly moved into scoring position, where, from 14 yards out, Rory Kohlert would catch a pass, then stretch the ball over the goal line for the touchdown. Hajrullahu's convert was good, cutting the Roughrider lead to 27-15, just 3:07 into the second half. Saskatchewan started their next possession at their own 12, moving down field quickly, on a drive punctuated by an injury to Darian Durant. Sunseri came in and drove the team to a 35 yard Milo field goal, increasing the Rider lead to 30-15, with 6:02 left in the third. The Bombers got a point back on an Hajrullahu 83 yard punt single, cutting the Rider lead to 30-16, with 2:17 left on the third quarter clock.

The first score of the fourth quarter came at the 5:11 mark on a 49 yard Hajrullahu punt single, bringing Winnipeg to within 13, at 30-17. The Blue Bombers would drive late, getting a 29 yard touchdown pass from Willy to Aaron Kelly. The Hajrullahu kick was good, making it 30-24, with 2:27 left in regulation time. On the ensuing possession, Saskatchewan went for it on third and one and Jerome Messam was hit at the stick and fumbled the ball, with Winnipeg apparently recovering at the 45, with 1:36 to play. Willy dropped back to pass and threw a deep lob that was intercepted by Williams, returning the ball to the 28 with 1:26 to play. After a penalty during a fight moved the ball out to the 43, two downs gained little and took 25 seconds off the clock. Milo came on to punt and the Bombers would start at their own 35 with 49 seconds to play. A pass gained short yardage then on second down, Tearrius George sacked Willy. Tristan Jackson intercepted a third down pass at the 45 and Saskatchewan ran out the clock from there, winning the game 30-24.

For the Roughriders, Darian Durant was 8-of-9 passing for 77 yards and Tino Sunseri was 2-of-5 for 30 yards. Anthony Allen rushed 18 times for 115 yards and a touchdown, Weston Dressler caught 4 passes for 40 yards, while also running a punt back for a touchdown. Chris Milo was 2-of-3 on field goals, 3-of-3 on converts, had a missed field goal single and punted 6 times for a 46.5 yard average. On defence, Weldon Brown had 8 tackles, Brian Peters had 4 tackles and 3 special teams tackles. Rod Williams intercepted a pass and returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown and Tristan Jackson intercepted a pass. John Chick had a sack. For Winnipeg, Drew Willy was 26-of-38 for 360 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Nic Grigsby ran 8 times for 66 yards and a touchdown, Aaron Kelly caught 7 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown and Rory Kohlert caught 4 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Lirim Hajrullahu was 0-for-1 on field goals, 3-of-3 on converts and had 8 punts for a 49.9 yard average, with two punt singles. On defence, Maurice Leggett had 9 tackles and a sack.

Next up for the 8-2 Riders is a game next Sunday, September 14th, at the 2-7 Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Kickoff at Tim Hortons Field is set for 1:00pm EDT. Catch all the action with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri on 620CKRM, the Rider Radio Network and The game can be seen in Canada on TSN and in the U.S. on Winnipeg next plays at BC on Saturday, September 13th.

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