WINNIPEG — A trio of rushing touchdowns by Sean McGuire secured the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ second-straight Banjo Bowl title after defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders 33-9.
The Bomber’s offence built a 12-9 lead early on in the game and relied on the abilities of their defence to hold the Riders off the board. The second half would see no difference as while 21-straight points built a deficit the Riders wouldn’t be able to surmount.
After Cody Fajardo was led to the locker room with an injury in the third quarter, Issac Harker would quarterback the Riders’ offence. In his half played, Harker would record 89 passing yards for the Green and White while William Powell was impactful on the ground, recording 88 rushing yards.
Building off what made them successful just a week ago, the Bombers continued to attack the Riders’ secondary as Zach Collaros finished with 278 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. His top target of the night, Nic Demski racked up 134 receiving yards on five receptions.
With their win, the Bombers secured their second-straight Banjo Bowl in as many appearances and put four points between them and the Riders for first place in the West Divison.
After struggling last week at home in the Labour Day Classic, the deafening noise of a sold-out IG Field appeared to be a non-issue for the Roughriders’ offence who looked confident early.
Saskatchewan struck first after Collaros and the Bombers’ offence stalled out and were forced to punt, Fajardo led his Riders down the field with authority, setting up a field goal which gave them an early lead.
On their second drive of the game, five consecutive throws by Collaros led the Bombers down into Rider territory looking poised to score.
Following a seven-yard completion to Kenny Lawler, it was Andrew Harris‘ time to shine. Collecting the handoff from Collaros, he plunged through the holes generated by his offensive line, getting into the second level all the way down to the Riders’ 17-yard line. Another Harris rush would set a chance for Bombers’ short-yardage specialist, Sean McGuire who found a seam on the goal line for a QB sneak touchdown, giving the Bombers the lead.
Brett Lauther would be called on to tie the game up at six apiece for the Riders following a drive-ending, second-down stop by Deatrick Nichols.
After being sandwiched by the towering Bombers’ defensive end duo of Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat, Fajardo would break free from the Bombers’ defence, scampering for a 20 yard gain. The very next play would go the opposite way for Fajardo as Adam Bighill dropped from his native linebacker position deep into secondary and recorded an interception.
Luckily for the Riders, the Bombers would come up empty off the turnover as Marc Liegghio would miss a 48-yard field goal attempt, allowing Jamal Morrow a 22-yard return.
Lauther would finish the ensuing Riders drive off and pad their lead in the process as he knocked down a 30-yard field goal attempt.
Looking to respond, the Bombers would take to the air.
After McGuire came in for Collaros and connected with Demski 50 yards downfield, a shoelace tackle by Blace Brown would save a Bombers touchdown. Collaros would come back in a play later, copying McGuire as he found Lawler for a 15-yard reception whose outstretched hands were inches of the pylon.
McGuire would make his way back onto the field in the Bombers’ goal-line package and as he dove across the goal line for his second touchdown of the game, tempers began to flare. Multiple flags would result in the disqualification of Saskatchewan’s A.J. Hendy and Garrett Marino.
Back-to-back misses, one by Liegghio and one on a game-tying attempt by Lauther, would keep the Bombers up 12-9.
The Riders’ offence would face their first two-and-out of the game which would result in Fajardo heading to the locker room following a thunderous sack from Jefferson.
A pair of costly penalties on Rider defenders Godfrey Onyeka and Christian Campbell allowed the Bombers another goal-line opportunity. For the third time on the day, McGuire would replace Collaros on the goal line, punching in his hat trick touchdown and increased their lead.
With Fajardo still being attended to, Harker would be called upon to man the Riders’ offence. In his first drive under centre, Harker would connect with Kian Schaffer-Baker to get the Riders into Bombers’ territory but Lauther would miss a field goal attempt to bring the Riders within striking distance.
The Bombers would capitalize on the stalling Riders’ offence as a six-play, 67-yard drive finished in the arms of Darvin Adams who beat Brown on a double-move and hauled in a touchdown pass from Collaros.
Collaros would put the final nail in the coffin as he connected with Lawler for a 40-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Next up for the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be a home game against the visiting Toronto Argonauts for Friday Night Football with kickoff slated for 9:45 p.m. ET. Winnipeg on the other hand will travel to Edmonton to take on the Elks at 9:45 p.m. ET as well.