Blue unable to counter 'Riders

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

They vowed to stop the ground attack.

And were much better, even if the Winnipeg Blue Bombers did lose.

Stung for allowing 244 yards rushing during the 45-26 Labour Day Classic loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina last week, the Bomber run stoppers were determined not to leave last night's Banjo Bowl as embarrassed as they were when the final whistle blew last week.

After all, their CFL playoff lives were on the line before an over-sold Canad Inns Stadium numbering 29,653 witnesses.

Saskatchewan tailback Kenton Keith led the way with 170 yards on only 17 carries and that included a 75-yard touchdown romp last week. And he started last night's return encounter where he left off. Keith opened the game with runs of 17, nine and 15 yards when he was stripped of the ball by safety Wes Lysack inside the Winnipeg 10. Keith was held to only five more yards for the rest of the half.

Although the defence improved drastically, Saskatchewan still posted a 19-17 victory.

"Unfortunately, we still came out with a loss," said Bombers linebacker Ryland Wickman. "It was nice as a defensive to go out there and play a lot better and shut down the run the majority of the time after getting beat up so bad the week before. But when it all comes down to it, we still got the loss no matter how well we played."

On the other hand, the Saskatchewan offence seemed to move the ball at will during key times. The Roughriders scored touchdowns on a drive of 50 yards at the end of the first half and one of 74 to open the second half, taking an 18-15 lead.

"They just made a few more big plays than we did," Wickman said. "It's disappointing but we've just got to come back and play football.

"We played with good effort but obviously, effort's not going to win you the game."

Then, with time ticking down and the Bombers needing to get the ball back, Saskatchewan started a drive from their 30. The 'Riders not only moved the ball to the Winnipeg 35, they ate up some key time on the clock.

TWO POINTS IN SECOND HALF

"We were trying to get the offence the ball back as much as you can and when it's a low-scoring game, you want to get the stops as much as possible and have field position as much as possible," said Bombers LB Sean Woodson.

Actually, the Winnipeg offence managed but two points in the second half.

"The defence played better but we didn't play well enough," said Bombers cornerback William Fields. "You don't play great until you allow zero points and the offence puts points on the board, then we should win. So, it's on everybody."


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