Winnipeg Blue Bombers hand Saskatchewan their first loss of the season in a defensive showdown

REGINA- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers handed the Saskatchewan Roughriders their first loss of the season as they come out on top 23-8 in Sunday’s Labour Day Classic.

A rocking Mosaic Stadium played host to a defensive showdown between the West Divison’s top players. With both teams holding their opposing quarterback to under 300 passing yards on the night, 245 for Zach Collaros and 213 for Cody Fajardo, along with interceptions for each, it was the running backs who produced.

Andrew Harris was a workhorse for the Bombers as on 95 rushing yards on 16 carries, he passed Joffrey Reynolds on the All-Time Rushing Leader list, though it would be backup quarterback, Sean McGuire scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns. For the Roughriders, William Powell bounced off Winnipeg defenders running through his offensive line for 44 yards on 8 carries.

Brett Lauther was the Riders’ highest scoring player on the night as he went 2/3 on the night with a long of 54 yards.

 Boxscore: Blue Bombers at Roughriders
» Through the lens: Winnipeg at Saskatchewan 

Winnipeg would silence the sold-out Mosaic crowd as after Cody Fajardo was picked off for just the second time this season, Collaros and company would take over. After Collaros found Kenny Lawler 40 yards downfield, who made a circus catch along the sideline, the Bombers threatened to score. After coming a single yard short of the goal line, Winnipeg’s short-yardage package got the job done as Collaros’ understudy, Sean McGuire would execute the QB sneak perfectly, putting the Bombers on the board.

Things would get concerning for the Blue Bombers as following a hit he sustained, Collaros came up grimacing. He would be sidelined for a single play to be examined.  On their ensuing drive as Mcguire would step in and fumble the snap as Collaros looked on. He would return for the next play, though the pain Collaros was dealing with appeared to be a factor moments later as would be picked off by Ed Gainey. Gainey’s interception would lead to Rider points as Lauther’s field goal attempt from 54 was good, adding to their single making it 7-4.

Collaros’ injury would not be the only one seen Sunday as on a designed quarterback draw, Cody Fajardo would take a shot to the upper body. He would be attended to by the training staff on the sidelines during a Bomber possession but would return.

Once he and the Riders’ offence took the field again, the Green and White dished out a healthy serving of William Powell. After rushing for 26 yards leading up to the three-minute warning, the Riders would attempt a field goal from 36-yards out. Lauther’s attempt would miss wide left, failing to give Saskatchewan their first lead of the game, but the single would bring them within two points.

That would not be it for the first-half dramatics as after Marc Liegghio pulled a last-minute field goal Jamal Morrow, who was back to return, brought the missed attempt 34 yards. Saskatchewan would be called for roughing the kicker but the call would be overturned, giving the Riders the ball on the Winnipeg 37.

With seconds remaining on the clock, Lauther’s number would be called again. After sailing his second field goal through the uprights, the Riders would secure their first lead of the game.

Second-half action saw the Blue Bombers lean more on the abilities of their running game. Dishing out carries to Andrew Harris and Collaros keeping a few for himself, the Bombers were threatening to score. After an attempt to connect with Darvin Adams in the endzone was flagged for pass interference by Gainey, Winnipeg reclaimed their lead as for the second time McGuire would dive across the goal line.

While trying to rally from behind, Fajardo would throw his third interception of the contest.

As Winnipeg gained possession, they would add to their lead as after coming up short of the first down, Liegghio would strike again. His field goal would give the Bombers a 16-8 lead as time worked against the Riders.

Winnipeg would not let up on the Riders as they continued to force the ball downfield. Collaros connect with a sprawled out Drew Wolitarsky to enter Riders territory. Collaros would air it out immediately after, finding Nic Demski in the endzone, putting the Bombers up 23-8 and making a Rider comeback unattainable.

Both of these teams will meet next week for a rematch in the 17th annual Banjo Bowl taking place at IG Field on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST.

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