CANA­DIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Bombers get their re­venge on Roughrid­ers

Sunday Sports - - CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE - TED WY­MAN twyman@post­media.com @Ted_Wy­man — Ted Wy­man

WIN­NIPEG — All week Moe Leggett talked about how badly he wanted a chance to punch back at the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers af­ter his Win­nipeg Blue Bombers took a lick­ing in the Labour Day Clas­sic.

Leggett wound up con­nect­ing on some hay­mak­ers when the two teams met in an in­tense re­match Satur­day af­ter­noon at In­vestors Group Field.

“We get hit in the mouth, we just hit harder back,” Leggett said.

The vet­eran dime back did a big chunk of the dam­age for the Bombers in a 48-28 win in the an­nual Banjo Bowl be­fore a sell­out crowd of 33,134.

He had a fran­chise-record 97-yard punt re­turn for a touch­down in the sec­ond quar­ter and a 54-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for an­other ma­jor in the third quar­ter.

Leggett said he couldn’t re­call if he’d ever had a big­ger game, but he’s sure he’ll have this one in the mem­ory bank.

“Oh yeah, this is a great game to re­mem­ber,” Leggett said. “This is the first game my mom has ac­tu­ally seen me play in Canada, so it’s a pretty spe­cial thing to re­mem­ber. This is the first time she’s been in Canada since I was like three.”

It was an im­por­tant win for the Bombers, who avenged their 38-24 loss from last week, im­proved to 8-3 on the sea­son and now have a bye week to rest up be­fore head­ing into the final stretch drive.

“It’s huge, it’s huge,” Leggett said. “We have this of­fweek just to re­lax and feel good as op­posed to hav­ing the sad face. We can en­joy our fam­i­lies a lot bet­ter.”

The Bombers got stel­lar per­for­mances from re­ceiver Clarence Den­mark (five catches for 65 yards and two touch­downs), quar­ter­back Matt Nichols (282 yards pass­ing, 53 yards rush­ing and three touch­down passes) and rookie line­backer Jo­van San­tos-Knox (four de­fen­sive tack­les and an in­ter­cep­tion).

“I felt like from the be­gin­ning we had the edge,” Den­mark said. “We made up our minds early that we were gonna come out and play — we want to re­spond for our team, our fans and this whole city. Just to show what type of team we are. And I think we did that.”

The win gives the Bombers the sea­son se­ries against the 5-5 Rid­ers (two wins to one) and leaves them six points ahead (seven with the tiebreaker) in the tight West Di­vi­sion stand­ings.

“I imag­ine we’re go­ing to see them again in the play­offs,” Bombers coach Mike O’Shea said of the Rid­ers. “They’re a good football team. They’re tough.”

It was an in­tense game right from the be­gin­ning, with a huge crowd try­ing to out­per­form the Rid­ers faith­ful on the TSN deci­bel me­ter and some lin­ger­ing ten­sions from Labour Day.

Rid­ers re­ceiver Duron Carter said a Bombers fan spit on him last week and called Win­nipeg fans the worst in the league. The Bombers also ac­cused the Rid­ers of fak­ing in­juries to slow down Win­nipeg’s no-hud­dle of­fence on Labour Day.

Carter did his best to si­lence the crowd, scor­ing an 88-yard touch­down in the first quar­ter to tie the game at 7-7, but only had one catch the rest of the way for eight yards.

Carter’s touch­down was one of two big ex­plo­sion plays — the other was a 75-yard touch­down pass from Kevin Glenn to Na­maan Roo­sevelt — that made the Bombers de­fence look bad. The Bombers wound up al­low­ing 471 yards of op­po­si­tion of­fence, but also took the ball away three times.

“We scored more points and that’s the name of the game,” Leggett said. “Of­fence stepped up and helped us out. We’ve got to do a bet­ter job of help­ing the of­fence out and we un­der­stand that but we’ve got each other’s back.”

WIN­NIPEG — Chris Ran­dle fol­lowed his leader — even when he made a costly mis­take — and came up with a big play to bail him out.

The Win­nipeg Blue Bombers de­fen­sive back in­ter­cepted Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers quar­ter­back Bran­don Bridge in the fourth quar­ter of Satur­day’s 48-28 win, just mo­ments af­ter his QB Matt Nichols coughed up a fumble.

Nichols put the ball on the turf at the end of a gritty 41yard run with 4:56 left in the game and the Bombers lead­ing by 20.

It gave a last bit of life to the Rid­ers, but Ran­dle snuffed it out on the very next play.

“I told him I was feel­ing bad for him that he didn’t get an in­ter­cep­tion ear­lier in the game and I wanted to give him that op­por­tu­nity,” Nichols joked, then turned se­ri­ous. “That’s ac­tu­ally one that’s go­ing to eat at me. I felt I played a very good game. But we preach ‘Hold onto the football late in games like that.’”

Nichols fin­ished the game with 53 rush­ing yards and didn’t seem in­ter­ested in slid­ing at the end of any of the runs. He put his head down and tried to run over de­fend­ers.

“He’s our leader man,” Ran­dle said. “When we needed a drive, when we needed that clock to go, he made a play, run­ning guys over. That got us hyped on the side­lines, so even though he fum­bled, he set the tone.

“Him run­ning it and set­ting the tone for our team, what we’re about ... it set the tone for me to go out there and make a play for him.

“He said he gave me an op­por­tu­nity to make a play and I thanked him for it.”

KEVIN KING/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Win­nipeg Blue Bombers Ryan Lank­ford (left) and We­ston Dressler jump in the stands af­ter a touch­down dur­ing the Banjo Bowl against the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers yes­ter­day.

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