Roughriders clobbered 51-6 by Blue Bombers in Banjo Bowl

Michelle Berg/Regina Leader-Post. Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Jake Dolegala (9) and left tackle Eric Lofton (52).

The Riders had no answer for the Bombers on Saturday in the Banjo Bowl

Taylor Shire, Regina Leader-Post

The Saskatchewan Roughriders had no answer for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday in the Banjo Bowl. 

One week after picking up a 32-30 overtime victory over the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic, the Riders were blown out 51-6 in the rematch on Saturday in Winnipeg in Week 14 of the CFL season. 

The Riders opened the scoring with a field goal on their first drive of the game, but the Bombers answered with touchdowns on their first six drives of the game, building up a 42-6 lead by halftime. 

Winnipeg put up 603 yards of net offence (263 rushing, 340 passing) compared to 204 yards of net offence by the Riders. The Bombers scored each of their first nine possessions and only punted once on their final drive of the game with 30 seconds left.

“We knew what we were in for from the very get-go and we just didn’t match their energy,” said Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson. “Couldn’t stop them and couldn’t sustain drives.

“The men in that locker room know we’re better than that and we need to play better than that moving forward.”

With the loss, Saskatchewan’s record dropped to 6-6, while the Bombers improved to 10-3. Winnipeg also clinched a playoff spot with the victory, along with the season series between the two teams. 

“I felt like we had a good week of practice, I did not anticipate us getting beat like we got beat today,” said Dickenson. “The difference was they got rolling and we couldn’t find a way to stop them and we weren’t able to match the momentum when we got the football.”

Bombers’ running back Brady Oliveira had a career-high 154 rushing yards on 18 carries while Bombers’ quarterback Zach Collaros completed 18 of 21 passes for 319 yards and five touchdown passes in front of a sold-out crowd of 33,500 at IG Field. Oliveira also had four catches for 57 yards and a receiving touchdown while Dalton Schoen led all Winnipeg receivers with 104 yards and three touchdowns on five catches. Kenny Lawler had four catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.

“We didn’t get the job done,” said Riders’ linebacker Larry Dean who has a team-high seven tackles. “Hats off to them, they came out ready to play. We have to be better.

“Every man has to look in the mirror and assess yourself. At the end of the day, we’re professionals, we get paid to play winning football and at the end of the day, that’s what we’re expected to do.”

Riders’ quarterback Jake Dolegala — who was making his third start of the season after winning his first two outings — completed 15 of 21 passes for 113 yards. Dolegala didn’t have an interception but Saskatchewan turned the ball over twice and also gave up three sacks in the defeat. 

“We didn’t play well enough in all three phases,” Dolegala said after the game. “Plays were there to be made but we didn’t make them at all.

“It was the same philosophy as last week, I was just trying to take what was given, but they did a really good job. You’ve got to give props to them.”

According to Dickenson, one positive to take away from the game was the experience of playing in a hostile environment like IG Field. While the season series between the two teams is now over, Dickenson said this tough lesson could help his team if they are to make a return trip to Winnipeg in the post-season.

“The one thing that was good is we got a feel for what the atmosphere’s like here in a big game,” said Dickenson. “If we play them again, it’ll be in a playoff scenario and it’ll be the same sort of atmosphere.”

While the Riders still occupy the third spot in the West Division, they will go up against another divisional opponent next week as the Edmonton Elks will make the trip to Mosaic Stadium on Friday (7:30 p.m., TSN). The Elks improved to 3-10 on the season after a 25-23 last-second victory against the 4-9 Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night.

Before then, the Riders will flush this week’s performance in Winnipeg and learn from their mistakes.

“We’ve got to play better,” said Dolegala. “We’ve got to get back to the drawing board and re-focus.”