Riders offence shows signs of life in pre-season home loss to Bombers

By Grant Deme

A windy night in Regina led to a back and forth affair as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers took down the Saskatchewan Roughriders 35-29 in the team’s last pre-season game.

Quarterback Sean McGuire launched the Bombers’ game-winning drive, plunging it in on the goal line after big gains through the air inside the final three minutes.

Zach Collaros made his 15 pass attempts count as 10 connected for 163 yards and two of them went for touchdowns, his lone blemish being a first quarter interception.

A pair of singles is all the clubs mustered up offensively in the first quarter, as stingy defence stalled out drives.

Things picked up quickly in the second as three big runs and a catch from William Powell led to the Riders’ first touchdown of the game, a 22-yard Collaros-to-Roosevelt connection.

The Bombers wasted no time in responding as Matt Nichols hit rookie Lucky Whitehead in stride for an 86-yard catch and run touchdown, which tied things up. Nichols finished 7-of-14 for 163 yards with the one touchdown throw.

The Bombers split the uprights twice and Collaros hit Shaq Evans for a touchdown with the game knotted up at 14 at the half.

A Bombers safety put them in front during the third before a Cody Fajardo plunge following a drive from Isaac Harker and a roughing the passer call put them on the doorstep to snatch the lead away.

On the ensuing drive McGuire completed his first three passes and a 44-yard field goal from the leg of global Gabriel Amavizca-Ortiz cut the deficit to one, before tying it on a punt single late in the third. That field goal was his longest on the night as he finished 3-for-4.

A 49-yard connection from Harker to Paul McRoberts put the Riders in the red zone for a two-yard touchdown pass to McRoberts again, and the Riders jumped back out in front. Harker was good on 5-of-9 passes for 78 yards.

But it wouldn’t stay like that for long as two drives later, the Bombers answered back with an explosive play of their own. Bryan Bennett hit Kenny Walker for 44 yards, before he tucked it and took the ball 42 more for an 86-yard touchdown. And just like that the Bombers were back in front.

Ty Gangi played quarterback for the Riders in the fourth and led the offence on his second drive to an eventual field goal but nothing more. He couldn’t cap off the club’s final drive with the touchdown they needed in the final minutes and the Bombers left Regina with a win.

The Riders now look to Week 1 as Saskatchewan travels to Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats Thursday, while the Bombers will be off to B.C. to finish the league’s first week against the Lions on Saturday night.

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