‘Winnipeg being Winnipeg doing dirty stuff’: Riders dumbfounded Andrew Harris was not ejected after ‘melee’

Photo courtesy: CFL

The Roughriders did not come out and say it explicitly, but Saskatchewan was shocked Andrew Harris stayed in the 2021 Banjo Bowl after his actions in an end zone brawl.

With less than three minutes left in the second quarter, backup quarterback Sean McGuire surged into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. Harris had run off to celebrate the major but returned to the skirmish, shoved Micah Johnson then proceeded to grab Christian Campbell’s face mask, swing him down to the ground and eventually pull his helmet off.

“That’s crazy. I didn’t get to see everything because I was in it, but I don’t even know what to say about that,” national linebacker Micah Teitz said.

“Guys are fired up, it’s always testy down there and we felt like they were doing a little bit too much extra.”

Harris was flagged for roughness by the officials, but it was defensive back A.J. Hendy and defensive lineman Garrett Marino who were disqualified from the game for rough plays in the brouhaha. Defensive lineman Jonathan Woodard was called for roughness as was Canadian offensive lineman Pat Neufeld.

“It wasn’t good news, I’ll tell you that, when they told me two of our guys got tossed. I said: ‘Well, how many of theirs?’ And they said: ‘None.’ But we must have done something, they said punches were thrown so I assume our guys did it,” head coach Craig Dickenson said.

“That was a big melee and that happens sometimes, usually you get one guy on each team tossed and you move on. But to have two of our guys tossed and to have additional [unnecessary roughness penalties] on us where they kicked off from the 55-yard line, that was an exchange we got the worst end of that, I will just say that.”

The Riders had to play the rest of the game down two defensive starters due to the ejections. Quarterback Isaac Harker laughed out of bewilderment when asked if Harris should have been booted from the West Division contest. He made clear it was not his decision and the whole incident was just part of the roughhousing in football.

“I went and talked to the defence and they were explaining what had happened. Winnipeg being Winnipeg doing dirty stuff we’re not able to see. They retaliate together, I hate it went down like that, but it just showed we got each other’s backs,” receiver Kyran Moore said.

“Unfortunately, we had some boys be ejected, which always hurts the team, so we can’t be doing that, but that’s just football. I know we gotta stick up for the boys, but sometimes throwing punches isn’t always the answer, you’ve gotta get ’em back on the field,” Teitz said.

Including that major by McGuire which preceded the scuffle, Winnipeg used the energy and advantage from it to send a message to the green and white by scoring 27 unanswered points to win 33-9 and sweep the start of September home-and-home set with the prairie rivals for the third time ever.

Harker said it’s “especially sour” to lose two straight to the Bombers without scoring an offensive touchdown.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.