REGINA — Two touchdown grabs by Weston Dressler supported by a stellar outing by linebacker Tyron Brackenridge handed the Saskatchewan Roughriders a dominant 52-0 win over the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium.
With the win, the Roughriders extended their Labour Day classic win streak to eight games over the Bombers.
Dressler hauled in his two scores from QB Darian Durant, who left the game midway through the third quarter with an upper body injury. He did not return, forcing the Riders to insert backup pivot Drew Willy into the game.
Prior to Durant leaving, he completed 13 of his 19 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, prompting the Mosaic faithful to give him a standing ovation just before he exited the field.
Brackenridge, meanwhile, finished his best game as a Roughriders with three tackles, one interception and one punt block that he returned for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Sunday afternoon’s matchup marked the first of the season between the two bitter prairie rivals, as last season, the Blue Bombers were swept in the annual back-to-back outings by the Roughriders, as they were outscored by a whopping 73-30 margin.
The Bombers were hoping that a change in personnel on the sidelines would lead to better results on the scoreboard, as new head coach Tim Burke was making his debut in his new role following the dismissal of Paul LaPolice last Saturday.
Burke, who will also continue his duties as the team’s defensive coordinator, saw his defence hold strong against the Roughriders on their opening possession.
After the Riders successfully earned a pair of first downs thanks to two completions by Durant to receivers Chris Getzlaf and Jock Sanders, the Bombers defence stepped up, with safety Ian Logan dropping Durant in the backfield for an eight-yard loss.
The sack would ultimate force the drive to stall, leading to a 50-yard field goal by Sandro DeAngelis to give the Riders an early 3-0 lead.
But the defence wouldn’t be able to contain the Saskatchewan offence for long.
On the Green’s next possession, Durant led a furious 10-play, 92-yard drive that was capped off by a 25-yard touchdown by Dressler, that sent the capacity crowd at Mosaic into a frenzy.
The major strike marked the first since Week 7 for Durant, and the first since Week 4 for Dressler.
Following another drive in which the Bombers offence was unable to develop any traction, with running back Chad Simpson and QB Joey Elliott both unable to produce move the ball into Riders territory for a second-straight possession, the Durant-Dressler combination struck again.
With Durant seemingly moving the ball at will deep into Bombers territory, the 30-year-old pivot found his most reliable receiver in the endzone yet again, this time connecting for a 21-yard score.
Durant put together a near-perfect performance in the first quarter, as he completed 10 of his 12 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
Dressler, meanwhile, hauled in three of those passes for 53 yards.
While the Riders offence stole the show in the opening frame, the special teams unit decided to make an appearance shortly after the second got underway.
Winnipeg’s trouble on special teams would continue midway through the second quarter, as Renaud would bobble the snap on his next punt attempt, forcing him to scramble away from pressure and connect on a short kick with his left foot.
Durant Leaves Game
Roughriders QB Darian Durant was forced out of the game midway through the third quarter after taking a hard hit while rushing out of the pocket. He would, however, return to the sidelines, stating that it was simply for precautionary reasons.
The solid field position that arrived as a result of the rushed punt would lead to a second field goal by DeAngelis, as he connected from 30 yards out to give the Riders a 28-0 strangle hold over the visiting Bombers.
With less than two minutes remaining, Elliott and the Bombers offence would finally begin to create some traction, as he would cross into Roughriders territory for the first time of the half.
However, with Burke opting to leave the offence on the field facing a third-and-short situation from the Saskatchewan 47-yard line, the Bombers would be called for false start penalty, forcing Renaud to punt once again.
The second half got underway with the Bombers hoping to begin chipping away at what seemed like an insurmountable deficit that had been built by the Riders in the first 30 minutes.
After the Riders received the ball to start the third, however, it appeared as though they had very little intention on slowing down, as they started their second half much like they began their first; with DeAngelis connecting on a 45-yard field goal to extend his team’s lead to 31.
On that same drive, the Riders ran into some injury trouble as Durant was hit hard while rushing outside of the pocket.
It was later announced that he left the sidelines in favour of the locker room, and would be doubtful to return to the game.
On Winnipeg’s next possession, the Riders continued their stellar play without the ball, as Brackenridge’s big day continued with an interception that he returned 39 yards to the Winnipeg 21-yard line.
The Riders would take advantage of the opportune field position, with DeAngelis connecting on his fourth field goal of the afternoon, this time splitting the uprights from 30 yards out.
The beatdown would continue at Mosaic, as Willy would make his mark on the afternoon.
It was Harris’ first major of the year, and first since 2011 when he was a member of the Blue Bombers.
After DeAngelis connected on another field goal, extending Saskatchewan’s lead to 45, the Riders would add to their already-monstrous lead with another touchdown, as Willy punched on in from one-yard out, giving the Riders a 52-0 lead.
Next Week: These two teams close out their back-to-back regular season series with a return date at Canad Inns Stadium when the Bombers host the Roughriders. BUY TICKETS.