Blue Bombers clinch playoffs with win over Roughriders in Labour Day Classic

REGINA — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday night in the Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium.

Things were tied up in the fourth quarter and it was a 55-yard field goal from Marc Liegghio, along with a timely interception from Nick Hallett, that catapulted the Bombers to a 20-18 victory. With the win, the Bombers also clinched a playoff spot.

Zach Collaros threw for 214 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the victory while his counterpart, Cody Fajardo, scored a major on the ground and threw one interception along with 292 yards.

Dalton Schoen and Nic Demksi had the major scores for the Bombers and Liegghio was good on both of his field goal attempts.

For the Riders, kicker Brett Lauther was good on three of four field goal attempts. Shaq Evans led all receivers with 88 yards on five catches in his return to the lineup.

» Box Score: Bombers, Roughriders by the numbers
» Through the Lens: Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
» Watch: Bombers find the end zone late in second quarter


The Riders hit the field first at Mosaic, and started the game with back-to-back carries (a nine-yard run followed by a 19-yard gain) from Frankie Hickson. Fajardo then got Shaq Evans, who was playing in his first game back from injury, involved in the game early connecting for a 10-yard gain and another first down. The offence continued to move the chains, including another catch from Evans for 11 yards and a 10-yard rush from Hickson, bringing the team down to the Bombers one-yard line.

Fajardo then plunged into the end zone for the game’s opening major score to cap the 11-play, 67-yard drive. With the point after, the Riders took a 7-0 lead just five minutes into the contest. The Riders added a single point on the ensuing kickoff to increase their lead to 8-0.

Collaros and the Bombers went to work on their first drive of the game, looking to respond with a touchdown of their own. But just as they looked to be moving well on the drive that include a few big plays from Nic Demski (16-yard pick up) and Greg McCrae (17-yard catch and run), Saskatchewan’s defence was right there to stop them. Defensive lineman Pete Robertson took down Collaros and forced the fumble that was recovered by Miles Brown, bringing Fajardo and co. back onto the field.

The Riders cashed in on the turnover with three points as Brett Lauther booted a 47-yard field goal, increasing their lead to 11-0.

As the first frame was coming to an end, Evans continued to make his presence felt, hauling in a 30-yard catch on the drive. The possession ended as the second quarter began with the Bombers holding the Riders to another field goal. Lauther connected on his 30-yard attempt to add to his team’s lead (14-0).

On the Bombers next possession, the team responded by scoring their first points of the ball game. Demski hauled in a 50-yard, catch and run major score, capping off a five-play, 87-yard drive. With the completed convert, Winnipeg cut Saskatchewan’s lead to 14-7, five minutes into the second frame.

Once again the Riders had to settle for a field goal on their ensuing drive, scoring points on their fourth-straight possession. Lauther was good on his 41-yard attempt, adding to Saskatchewan’s lead (17-7).

It only took two plays for Winnipeg to find the end zone when they hit the field next. On the first play of the drive, McCrae picked up a 15-yard gain on the ground and then Collaros scrambled out of the pocket and found Dalton Schoen in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. With the point after, the Bombers cut Saskatchewan’s lead to 17-14 with just over three minutes left in the half.

As the half was coming to a close, the Bombers were looking to add to the score to tie things before heading to the locker room. Roughriders Mike Edem was called with unnecessary roughness, bringing the Bombers down to the Riders 45 yard line. Bombers back up QB Dakota Prukop added an 11-yard gain to set up Liegghio’s 41-yard field goal to tie things up as time expired in the first half.

The teams traded punts to start the second half with the score knotted at 17. On the Riders second possession of the quarter, Shaq Evans was called for offensive pass interference and head coach Craig Dickenson challenged the play. After review, the ruling on the field was upheld. The Riders weren’t able to find the end zone on the drive, setting up Lauther’s 57-yard field goal attempt. His kick sailed left of the uprights and the team came up empty.

Neither team would score any points in the third quarter and things were still tied heading into the final frame.

The Riders began the fourth quarter marching down the field starting on their own nine-yard line as Fajardo threw passes to Evans (27 yards) and Kyran Moore (eight yards) before the team elected to gamble on third and short to get the fresh set. Another eight-yard pick up from Moore moved the team to midfield. But after a pair of penalties against the Riders, an objectionable conduct penalty against Saskatchewan’s bench and an illegal block on Evan Johnson, brought up third down and the team had to punt the ball away.

A single point was added to the Riders score after a punt Vedvik, giving Saskatchewan a 18-17 lead with seven minutes left in the game.

Collaros and co. went to work on their ensuing possession and after moving down to the Riders side of midfield, but Saskatchewan’s defence held strong to force a field goal. Liegghio hit his 55-yard attempt, putting the visitors in the lead with three minutes left in the game (20-18).

The Riders started moving the chains on their next drive but Bombers defence responded with an interception as Nick Hallett, the first of his career, picked off Fajardo with 1:55 on the clock. That brought Collaros and co. back onto the field. With 35 seconds left on the clock, the Bombers had to punt the ball away, however.

With eight seconds left in the game, Fajardo and co. attempted to make something happen but were unsuccessful and the Bombers left Mosaic Stadium with their 11th victory of the season.

Next up is a Labour Day Weekend rematch between these two teams at IG Field next Saturday.

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