Blue Bombers clinch home playoff game with win over Roughriders
WINNIPEG -- Coming off their worst performance of the season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence forced six turnovers to lead the way in a 31-13 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders before a sold-out crowd of 33,234 fans at IG Field.
Winnipeg, which had given up 48 points to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week in a loss, forced three turnovers on downs, a fumble and grabbed two interceptions to improve to 13-2 and clinch a home playoff game in the West.
Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros completed 14-of-25 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns. Kicker Marc Liegghio hit all four extra-point attempts and added a 22-yard field goal.
Saskatchewan falls to 6-9 but remains in the playoff picture.
Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo completed 26-of-38 passes for 307 yards and one interception. He also ran for a seven-yard TD.
The Bombers offence broke out of its slump just after Saskatchewan kicker Brett Lauther hit his second field goal of the night. Collaros connected with Nic Demski for a 42-yard touchdown, his second of the game. The play capped off a two-play, 70-yard scoring drive.
Collaros followed that up with a 64-yard touchdown strike to slotback Dalton Schoen, for a highlight-reel catch. It was another two-play drive, which went for 64 yards to give Winnipeg a 31-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The Riders pulled to within 17-13 early in the fourth quarter. After a 12-play, 74-yard drive stalled at the Winnipeg seven-yard line, Lauther booted a 14-yard field goal.
Saskatchewan had opened the scoring in the second half. Fajardo capped off a seven-play, 80-yard drive with a seven-yard TD run on third and short. The drive was aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive lineman Ricky Walker. Lauther's extra point allowed the Riders to cut the deficit to 17-10 midway through the third.
The Bombers took advantage of a long interception return to take a 17-3 lead into the second half. Defensive back Jamal Parker picked off Fajardo and raced 37 yards to the Saskatchewan 37-yard line with just 59 seconds left in the half. Winnipeg took just 40 seconds to go 37 yards in five plays, capping it off with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Collaros to Demski.
On Saskatchewan's previous drive, the Bombers defence had stuffed Fajardo on a third and short to force the first turnover of the game.
After a 13-play, 78-yard drive, the Bombers settled for a 22-yard Liegghio field goal to give them a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Winnipeg had taken a 7-3 into the second quarter. After giving up a 25-yard Lauther field goal, the Bombers marched 70 yards in just four plays on its first scoring drive. It was capped off with a 36-yard toss from Collaros to wide receiver Rasheed Bailey for the major.
The Riders will next take on the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton on Oct. 7. Meanwhile, Winnipeg will next play host to the Edmonton Elks on Oct. 8.
NOTE: With his first catch of the game, slotback Dalton Schoen became the seventh Bombers receiver to pass the 1,000-yard milestone in his rookie season.