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October 6, 2019

Game Recap | WPG 6 SSK 21

Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Janarion Grant splits a tackle during second half CFL action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, in Regina on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

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REGINA – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quest for a home playoff game and/or a first-round bye has been dealt another savage and potentially crippling blow.

The Bombers dropped their third straight in front of 31,080 fans at Mosaic Stadium in Regina Saturday night in a 21-6 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders that felt every bit like playoff football.

The result leaves the Bombers in third place in the West Division at 9-6, two points behind the Riders – now 10-4 after winning nine of their last 10 – and behind the Calgary Stampeders, who fell to 9-5 after they dropped a 21-17 decision to the Alouettes in Montreal earlier in the day.

Just as important, the Bombers have lost the season series to the Riders 2-1.

“We’re a family. We’re tight and we’ve got each other… we’ve just got to find a way. That’s what it comes down to,” said Bombers running back Andrew Harris after the game. “They’re a great defence, they’re a tough team and obviously their offence is great as well.

“But from our offensive standpoint, six points just isn’t enough. We need to be better.”

The Bombers lost the turnover battle 4:0, with all four mistakes coming in the second half and on the Riders’ side of the field. The first was a strip-sack fumble of Chris Streveler by Riders defensive end A.C. Leonard on the Riders’ 24-yard line; the second was an interception by Ed Gainey in the end zone with the Bombers at Saskatchewan’s nine-yard line – both with Saskatchewan up just 11-3 in the third quarter; Streveler threw a second pick with less than six minutes and the score 14-6 as L.J. McCray latched on to the mistake at the Riders’ goal line. The fourth turnover, on downs, came with the Bombers trailing 21-6 and on the Riders 33-yard line.

Streveler finished the night 26 of 40 for 254 yards with a fumble and the two interceptions as the Bombers managed just two Justin Medlock field goals.

“Just too many mistakes and missed opportunities at untimely times,” said Streveler. “I think I had three turnovers inside field goal range. It’s just hard to win a game like this when you do stuff like that.

“We all just didn’t execute the way we wanted. It’s a big game and we just didn’t move the ball offensively like we wanted and we made mistakes and turned the ball over. That’s just not a recipe for winning at this time of the season in a game like this. I’m obviously extremely disappointed. We’ve just got to flush it and get back to it tomorrow.”

Winnipeg’s first six possessions ended in punts, with eight in total. The Bombers had 15 offensive possessions and in addition to the eight punts, there was a fumble, the two interceptions, the turnover on downs, two field goals and the last drive which ended as time expired.

“You lose the turnover margin like that the stats, historically, would say you’re probably going to lose the game,” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “I thought we battled hard. Our defence did a great job. The only thing we didn’t really do on defence is take the ball away and match them in takeaways. If we would have come up even I think the game could be different for us.”

The loss did spoil what was an outstanding defensive effort by the Bombers, who – playing the game without defensive coordinator Richie Hall (away dealing with a personal matter) – kept the visitors in this game despite losing the turnover battle so significantly.

The defence sacked QB Cody Fajardo four times, with Jake Thomas, Kyrie Wilson, Drake Nevis and Jackson Jeffcoat all getting in on the act. The Bombers had defensive assistant James Stanley in the booth, along with injured linebacker Jesse Briggs. Calling the plays on the sideline were front seven coach Glen Young and defensive backs coach Jordan Younger.

Winnipeg now has three games remaining — two at home to Montreal and Calgary and one on the road to Calgary. The Bombers do lead the season series with the Stamps 1-0.

Finally, asked where the three losses leaves the Bombers, O’Shea offered this:

“9-6… and ready to get on a roll. There’s no other choice.”


THE BIG STAT | 4

Turnovers by the Bombers – two interceptions, one fumble and one on downs.
All four turnovers came in the second half and three of them, in particular, cost the Bombers points.

NUMBERS GAME

33%: The Bombers finished just nine of 27 on second-down conversions.

109: Receiving yards for Darvin Adams, on eight catches, to lead all Bombers.

299: Riders QB Cody Fajardo was 18 of 28 for 299 yards with a 61-yard TD strike to Shaq Evans with under three minutes remaining and no interceptions.

193: Riders receiver Shaq Evans finished the night with seven catches for 193 yards and one TD and in the process went over the 1,000-yard mark.

NEXT:

The Bombers are home on Saturday, October 12th vs. the Alouettes in a game that is both Family Day and when the club’s two 2019 Hall of Fame inductees – cornerback Less Browne and Dr. Bert Longstaffe – will be saluted.