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September 1, 2019

Lauther, Fajardo help Riders ‘walk off’ Bombers in Labour Day Classic

The Saskatchewan Roughriders take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in CFL action on September 1st 10th, 2019 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK. Liam Richards/Electric Umbrella

REGINA — Brett Lauther kicked a 26-yard game-winning field goal with no time on the clock, leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a 19-17 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to start off Mark’s Labour Day Weekend.

Opposing quarterback Chris Streveler put the Bombers ahead with three minutes left on a third-down quarterback sneak, but the Riders stormed back after Cody Fajardo completed five straight passes, eventually setting up the game-winning kick to cap off a 10-play, 87-yard drive.

Fajardo finished with 300 yards and a touchdown on 25-of-39 passing, but also threw two interceptions. William Powell rushed for 59 yards on eight carries, including two first downs to set up the game-winning kick. Shaq Evans had 81 yards and a touchdown for the Riders, but Naaman Roosevelt led the way with eight catches for 93 yards.

For the Bombers, Streveler completed 16 of 24 passes for 161 yards, a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown, but was also intercepted twice, while Johnny Augustine rushed for 98 yards on 12 carries in place of the suspended Andrew Harris. Kenny Lawler also scored for Winnipeg, finishing with 67 yards on four catches.

The victory marks the sixth in a row for the Riders and 14th of the last 15 against the Bombers on Labour Day Weekend, while the two clubs will do it all again in Week 13 in the annual Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg, where the Riders can move into a tie for first in the West with Winnipeg.

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Cody Fajardo deals with some pressure from Bombers defensive Willie Jefferson (Matt Smith/CFL.ca)

It was a rocky start for Streveler in his first Labour Day Classic as a starter, as his second passing attempt of the game was intercepted by Riders SAM linebacker Derrick Moncrief. But the Bomber defence answered when former Rider Willie Jefferson sacked Fajardo, forcing a quick punt on the two-and-out.

On a punt single and a safety conceded by punter Justin Medlock, the Riders had a 3-0 lead until late in the first quarter. That’s when Fajardo got the offence moving, starting with a 17-yard completion to Evans followed by a 23-yard pickup by Kyran Moore. Facing second-and-goal from the 10, the first-year Rider would spot Evans in the end zone for six, capping off an eight-play, 69-yard drive to give Saskatchewan a 10-0 lead.

The first 15 minutes couldn’t have gone much better for the Green and White, which held the CFL’s top-scoring first quarter team to minus-10 yards through the opening quarter.

The Bombers wouldn’t be silenced much longer, however. With star running back Andrew Harris serving his two-game suspension, it was a rare opportunity for Augustine. The undrafted running back out of Guelph juked out the Riders’ defence and sprinted 55 yards, moving the offence to the Saskatchewan nine.

A play later, Streveler found an open Lawler in the end zone for the touchdown, finishing a quick three-play scoring drive and pulling the Bombers to within three.

Fajardo and the Riders continued to move the ball on offence, but a promising drive was snuffed out at the Winnipeg three, leading to an 11-yard field goal by Brett Lauther. Another one from Lauther, his second, would extend the Riders’ lead, while Medlock’s late response made it a 16-10 lead going to the half.

 

Hemmed in at their own six-yard-line early in the third, the Bombers climbed out of a hole following a 32-yard pass interference penalty against Moncrief. A facemask penalty against Nick Marshall put the Bombers on the doorstep, but Loucheiz Purifoy read Streveler’s next pass like a book, intercepting the throw intended to Nic Demski to immediately end the threat.

The Winnipeg defence continued to stand tall, however, because a couple of plays later, Fajardo’s deep pass was intercepted by Winston Rose, turning the ball back over to the Bombers. The interception was a league-leading seventh for Rose as neither team could get on the scoreboard in the third.

Backed up at their own 13 and facing a second-and-12, Streveler made one of his biggest throws of the game in the face of pressure, connecting with Lawler for a 37-yard pickup. But the Bombers’ drive ran out of gas once again, as the second half shutout continued well into the fourth quarter.

Trailing by six with 10 minutes to go, the Bombers aimed to finally turn their field position edge into a touchdown when they took possession at around midfield. Slowly but surely it would happen, but it was no easy task for the Bomber offence.

After a long drive down to the Rider one-yard-line, Streveler’s plunge on third down was successful, giving the Bombers their first lead of the game — a 17-16 edge with just over three minutes remaining.

A holding penalty pinned the Riders deep in their own end in would what be the game’s decisive drive. Fajardo, though, making his first career start on Labour Day Weekend, was unfazed. The Riders’ pivot made five straight completions and Powell ran for a first down, setting them up inside the Winnipeg 30 and in field goal range.

Another first down run by Powell set up the eventual game-winning points, as Lauther’s third field goal put the Riders ahead for good.