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© 2023 CFL. All rights reserved.
© 2023 CFL. All rights reserved.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers secured a home playoff date with a 31-13 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday night at IG Field.
Zach Collaros threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns and Dalton Schoen cracked the 1,000 receiving yard mark by totalling 125 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was his 11th of the season, a new team record for receiving touchdowns by a rookie in a single season.
Nic Demski caught a pair of touchdowns and running back Brady Oliveira rushed for an additional 101 yards to help lead the Blue Bombers offensive charge.
Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo kept his team in the game by completing 26 passes for 307 yards and rushing for a touchdown.
With the win the Bombers improved to 13-2 on the season and run their divisional record to a perfect 8-0.
» Box Score: Riders, Bombers by the numbers
» Through the Lens: Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
» Watch: Logan silences BC Place with TD
» Bombers defence steps up in win over Riders
It was the Saskatchewan Roughriders who struck first on their second possession of the game, however. Cody Fajardo led a drive into Winnipeg territory that was capped by a five-yard run from Kienan LaFrance to set up a 25-yard field goal from Brett Lauther.
But the lead didn’t last long as Winnipeg wasted no time responding thanks to a Zach Collaros touchdown pass to Rasheed Bailey.
After forcing a punt late in the first quarter, Collaros would lead a 10 play drive into Saskatchewan territory to set up a Marc Liegghio 22-yard field goal to give Winnipeg a 10-3 lead in the second quarter.
Riders head coach Craig Dickenson decided to go for it on third and short on the Winnipeg 40 yard line late in the second quarter, but the Bombers defensive line stuffed a quarterback sneak to force a turnover on downs.
The Bombers couldn’t capitalize and were forced to punt. On the ensuing drive Fajardo unloaded a pass in the direction of Tevin Jones but it was Bombers defensive back Jamal Parker who came down with the interception. Parker would return the pick 37 yards set the offence up deep in Rider territory.
Collaros would take advantage of the turnover by connecting with Nic Demski for a 25-yard touchdown pass to give the Bombers a 17-3 lead heading into the half.
Saskatchewan began the half with the football and Fajardo connected with Kian Schaffer-Baker for a 38-yard reception to set up a what looked to be a prime scoring opportunity for the Riders, but the Bombers defence stepped up again forcing Fajardo to fumble.
The Riders defence made up for the turnover by forcing a two-and-out and Fajardo made amends for his fumble by leading a drive that ended with a him calling his own number for a seven yard touchdown run to make it 17-10.
The defence kept the momentum going and momentarily silenced the IG Field crowd by forcing another two-and-out.
A pair of Fajardo completions to James Tuck and Kyran Moore would set up a third and one for the Riders on the next drive. Craig Dickenson again decided to go for it on third down and the Bomber defence yet again was up to the test, stopping Kienan LaFrance’s rushing attempt to force another turnover on downs.
A Bombers three-and-out followed and with just 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Fajardo unleashed a pass to Shaq Evans that appeared to be out of reach but a pass interference call on the Bombers kept the drive alive.
Fajardo would lead another long drive to the Winnipeg six yard line but they had to settle for a field goal by Lauther to bring the Riders within four.
As he’s done all season long, Collaros stepped up when his team needed him on the following drive, connecting with Demski for a 42 yard touchdown pass to extend their lead to 24-13.
After a Riders three-and-out Collaros found Dalton Schoen downfield for a 64 yard touchdown catch to increase their lead to 31-13.
With precious time ticking off the clock, Fajardo got the Riders to the Winnipeg 15 yard line but once again was stopped on third down.
A long Bombers drive ran the clock down to 1:46 before turning the ball over on downs.
With the ball back late in the final quarter the Riders were unable to generate any offence as time wound down.
Winnipeg will play host to the Edmonton Elks in Week 18, while Saskatchewan heads to Hamilton.