Banjo beat down: Bombers get revenge on Riders

Maurice Leggett has at least three reasons to always remember the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ 48-28 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.

The veteran linebacker returned a punt 97 yards for a touchdown, grabbed an interception and ran 54 yards for a score and had a special family member watching among the sold-out crowd of 33,134 at Investors Group Field.

“This is a great game to remember,” Leggett said. “This is the first game my mom’s actually seen me play in Canada.”

The 30-year-old Pennsylvania native is in his fourth CFL season, all with Winnipeg, but also has 22 games with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs on his football resume.

The victory halted Saskatchewan’s three-game win streak, evening its record to 5-5 while Winnipeg moves to 8-3 in the competitive CFL West Division.

Leggett’s performance was also admired by teammate Clarence Denmark, who recorded his own pair of TDs with catches of 12 and 18 yards from quarterback Matt Nichols.

“Moe, man, he’s an awesome, awesome athlete,” Denmark said of Leggett. “I’m glad he’s on our side.”

Denmark now has six TDs this season, including another pair in a win against Montreal two games ago.

Leggett’s interception of a Kevin Glenn pass gave Winnipeg a 37-20 lead midway through the third quarter.

Things would soon get worse for Glenn, who suffered an injury to his throwing hand during his team’s next series. He was replaced by Toronto-born pivot Brandon Bridge.

Riders head coach and general manager Chris Jones didn’t have an update on how serious the injury was to the 17-year veteran, who was guiding the club out of an early-season hole.

“If your starting quarterback’s not there, it’s concerning for everybody,” Jones said. “It’s a concern, no doubt.”

Winnipeg’s scoring also included backup quarterback Dan LeFevour plunging in for a one-yard major and receiver Ryan Lankford catching a 23-yard TD reception. Kicker Justin Medlock went wide on a 48-yard field-goal attempt, but hit one from 36 yards out. He made all six of his converts and added singles of 84, 85 and 90 yards.

Saskatchewan also had some explosive plays in the rematch that failed to follow up on the Riders’ 38-24 victory in last weekend’s Labour Day Classic.

The Riders put up a pair of long catch-and-run touchdowns, an 88-yarder by Duron Carter and a 75-yard reception from Naaman Roosevelt.

Saskatchewan got a one-yard TD run from Winnipeg native Kienan LaFrance, who was replacing injured running back Cameron Marshall. Bridge sprinted 10 yards for a score, leaping over the goal-line.

Riders kicker Tyler Crapigna was good on two converts. A two-point convert attempt on Roosevelt’s TD failed, but was good on Bridge’s score.

Nichols completed 24 of 37 pass attempts for 282 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. Glenn was 15 of 22 for 327 yards with two TDs and two picks while Bridge was 4 of 8 for 67 yards and an interception.

Bridge, a 25-year-old in his fourth CFL season, was intercepted by cornerback Chris Randle with under five minutes left in the game.

“Shouldn’t have thrown that pick, but other than that I thought I did fairly decent for the circumstances I went in for,” said Bridge, who’s in his third year with the Riders.

The victory also gave the Bombers a 2-1 season-series win over the Riders.

Winnipeg’s 16 points is one point behind division-leader Calgary and two up on Edmonton, but the Eskimos host the Stampeders in Saturday’s late game. Winnipeg heads into its bye week.

The teams were tied 7-7 after the first quarter, but Winnipeg held leads of 29-20 at halftime and 38-28 after three quarters.

After his TD, Carter and several teammates did a dance on Winnipeg’s goal-line. In Saskatchewan’s home win last weekend, Carter celebrated a TD with fans along the back wall of the end zone and was spit on by a Bombers fan. He said prior to the rematch that he was going to avoid the end zones at Investors Group Field.

Bombers receiver Weston Dressler’s three catches for 56 yards lifted him into the CFL’s Top 25 all-time list for receiving yards. He now has 651 receptions for 9,262 yards, moving him past Jim Young (9,248).

Notes: The CFL announced next year’s CFL Week will be held in Winnipeg from March 22-25. The event features the league’s combine, a Hall of Fame gala dinner to announce inductees and numerous fan activities.