Labour Day Classic
Beautiful day and a Rider win
What a beautiful day for the Labour Day classic. Bright and sunny with little wind, this is exactly what the people of Saskatchewan look forward to before the winter freeze kicks in. One last long weekend to party before the reality of school and winter kicks our collective asses, Red Foreman style. Part of this tradition includes hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the annual Labour Day Classic. Plenty of pesky Bomber fans flooded into Regina to attend the feud so there was a buzz around the city and I’m sure plenty of banter.
The game was filled with plenty of action, mistakes, and extended dull periods (typical CFL). The Saskatchewan Roughriders came into this game 6-3, and winners of five in a row. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers came into the game in first place in the Western Division with a record of 8-2.
The first quarter was dominated by defence or, in other words, was a bit of a bore. On the Bombers first drive of the game, following a one-point Single, Chris Streveler threw an interception. Unfortunately, Cody Fajardo took a sack two plays later and the Roughriders were forced to punt. On the Riders third drive of the game, deep in Winnipeg territory, Cody Fajardo tried to force a ball into his receiver after scrambling. The ball was tipped and intercepted for Fajardo’s first interception since week 6. The Roughrider defence responded with a sack on second down and Winnipeg elected to take the safety making the score 3-0. The Riders then went on a drive that ended in a Touchdown pass (and extra point) from Cody Fajardo to Shaquelle Evans, making the score 10-0 just before the start of the second quarter.
In the second quarter, following an exchange of punts, the Blue Bombers running back, Johnny Augustine, broke out for a 55-yard run that lead to a touchdown pass on the next play, the extra point was good making the score 10-7. The Roughriders quickly answered with a field goal; however, this score was preceded by a miscommunication on a handoff inside the 10 that led to an incompletion, and a dropped attempted diving catch in the endzone. So, the Riders could have had a commanding lead, but settled for three points and a 13-7 lead.
On the Riders next drive, Fajardo showed why he has led the team to five wins straight as he marched down the field using his arm on every play to give Brett Lauther a chance at a 40-yard field goal as the Riders took a 16-7 lead into the half – or so they thought. Chris Streveler drove the Bombers down the field to kick a last second field goal to cut the lead to one score as the teams entered half-time. The Roughriders played a dominating half of football, but definitely should have more than a six-point lead at the half. The Bombers are just happy to be in the game still.
Second half. Filled with errors, the third quarter was easily the hardest one to watch for the fans on both sides. After trading punts to begin the third, the Blue Bombers were on the march, partially aided by Roughrider penalties and defensive breakdowns. Thankfully, Loucheiz Purifoy stepped up and intercepted Streveler for a second time deep in Rider territory. As I mentioned earlier, this quarter was filled with mistakes so you should already know what happens next even if you did not watch the game. Yep, Fajardo throws it away three plays later as Winston Rose collected his 7th pick of the season. The quarter ends mercifully without any points scored as the Bombers drive into Rider territory.
The fourth quarter was much more entertaining, as the Rider defence tightened up and forced a punt after the turnover in their own end. After a quick 2 and out by the offense, the defence was quickly back on the field and looked a bit slow. They gave up a huge 18–yard QB sneak run that was rather embarrassing. Streveler capped off the offensive drive by running it in himself on 3rd down, as the Riders tried their best at a goal line stand.
The lead is now gone with the score 16-17 and there is just over three minutes to go in the game. Purifoy on the kickoff does one of the dumbest things I have seen; he runs around aimlessly in the endzone taking precious time off the clock and proceeds to get tackled in the endzone, after accomplishing nothing. On top of that, the home team takes a brutal penalty and start the drive on their own 5-yard line.
Cody Fajardo then steps his ass up and proves he can be special! Pass to Moore, pass to Arceneaux, his own 7-yard run, Powell 15-yard run, pass to Roosevelt, pass to Arceneaux, pass to Evans. Fajardo goes 5-5 for 41-yards and 7 rushing yards with some help from Powell who chips in with 4 carries 39-yards rushing in the final drive to setup a game winning 26-yard field goal from Lauther. Holy hell what a drive by the Riders to take the win away from the Bombers who lead the division and put themselves in terrific position to go into Winnipeg next week on Sept. 7 for the Banjo bowl and possibly come out in first place.