Look on the bight side Bomber fans: At least the CFL’s annual drunk fest in Regina known as “The Labour Day Classic” was a little more like a “Classic” this year.
Anthony Allen carried 15 yards for the game’s winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter as the Saskatchewan Roughriders did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers what the Bombers have done to a handful of teams this season.
Allen’s game-winning major came with 28 seconds left on the clock.
In what really was a terrific football game, especially in the second half, the Riders took a 21-7 third quarter lead then had to come back from a 27-21 deficit to beat the Bombers 35-30.
This season, the Bombers have won four times by coming back late in games. This time, they were on the wrong end of an opponent’s comeback.
The game winner was Allen’s second touchdown of the game — a game played in front of 33,427 in Regina. Taj Smith, on a 59-yard TD pass from Darian Durant and former Bomber Will Ford also scored for the Riders.
Will Stoudermire’s 64-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter was the most exciting play of the game and it tied the affair at 21 apiece. Winnipeg’s special teams were terrific all game while TSN’s Glen Suitor pronounced Bomber kicker Lirim Hajrullahu’s name incorrectly 13 times in the telecast. (Gawd, it’s simple – HIGH-roo-lah-who)
With the win, Saskatchewan improved to 7-2 and will likely be tied for second in the West at the end of tomorrow’s battle between Edmonton and Calgary at McMahon Stadium. It was also Saskatchewan’s 10th straight victory in the Labour Day Classic. The Bombers, meanwhile, lost their third game in the past four outings and fell to 6-4 on the season.
In a game in which Saskatchewan won the turnover battle 3-0 (two fumbles and an interception), the Bombers were remarkably resilient. Even when Saskatchewan took a 21-7 lead in the fourth quarter, the Bombers bounced back with 20 consecutive points before the Riders came back and took a 28-27 lead.
Then, after Hajrullahu kicked a 46-yard field goal to give the Bombers a 30-28 lead, Allen capped a nine-play 57-yard drive as Saskatchewan scored in the final 21 seconds to win it.
The two teams combined for 17 points in the final five minutes – Saskatchewan scored 14 of them.
Neither quarterback was sensational. Durant completed 14 of 26 passes for 204 yards and one touchdown. Willy went 15-for-23 for 171 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Willy also rushed for 21 yards and an 11-yard touchdown. Durant carried three times for 28 yards.
Despite the loss – and no coach will see much good in any loss – the Bombers sent a message to the Riders. Saskatchewan was a prohibitive favorite heading into the game and yet there was never a time during the game when it appeared the Riders would run away and hide. Sure, they got ahead 21-7 in the third quarter but it wasn’t as if they’d played dominant football to get there.
This game proved one of two things: (a) Either the Blue Bombers will be a very difficult opponent for the Roughriders back home at Investors Group Field next Sunday or (b) The fact the Bombers play seven teams from the West in their final nine games of the season might make for a very ugly finish.
We’ll start finding out the answer next Sunday afternoon.