Gloom, doom for 'Gades

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:34 PM ET

Blue Bombers 37, Renegades 21

Nothing can distract from this truth, not a Mardi Gras controversy, not the sweaty, heavy-breathing pursuit of The Bachelor, nor more negotiation list folly.

The truth is this: The Ottawa Renegades are a team in a death spiral right now, dropping their fourth-straight game last night in the rain, 37-21 to the last-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers (now 4-9).

The loss dropped the Renegades to 5-7 in front of 17,567 soaked fans, pushing away a little farther their hopes of a playoff berth and heightening the tension in the 'Gades' camp.

This club is looking into the abyss.

Something is going to have to be done, soon, or another season is going slip into the blackness.

"The silver lining is we've got six games to go. We've got to right the ship as soon as possible. This was the game to do it and we came up short," said Renegades coach/GM Joe Paopao.

When asked if he was as frustrated as he had ever been as coach with another game's worth inconsistencies on offence, bad penalties and undisciplined play, Paopao replied: "Disappointed."

Asked if it was time to simply get rid of the players who keep making the same mistakes, Paopao answered: "We're going to look at it real close (today)."

The soaked fans were led through a wide range of emotions last night. It ended the way it has too often in the Renegades short history, with another defeat, the rain seeming to echo the mood, getting heavier as the time ticked down in the fourth quarter.

It was a horrible start as embattled Ottawa quarterback Kerry Joseph handed the Bombers the opening touchdown with an interception on his own 10-yard line, sticking a pass in the big mitts of Winnipeg defensive lineman Gavin Walls six minutes into the game.

But after that, the Renegades looked, well, pretty good.

Running back Josh Ranek found holes and scored a pair of touchdowns, giving him five straight.

The play calling was imaginative with reverses, shovel passes and rollouts by Joseph, which bought him some time.

The defence gave league-leading rusher Charles Roberts nothing in the first quarter. The Renegades built a 21-14 lead at one point. But then they did themselves in with some old mistakes.

Stupid penalties.

Some shoddy tackling by a defence that got worn down again by too much work and poor field position thanks to the impressive work of Winnipeg punter Jon Ryan (he averaged 47.3 yards to 39.8 for Ottawa's Matt Kellett).

A lack of discipline. Leading 14-7, Ottawa's Greg Moss went offside on a Winnipeg field goal attempt. The Bombers got a first down and tied the game on the next play on a Milt Stegall touchdown catch.

They gave up five points in the last minute of the first half, surrendering a safety and a couple of big plays which led to a field goal, to see their lead cut to 21-19.

After the Renegades offence went cold in the third quarter, the Bombers benefited from good field position and some revitalized running by Roberts to take the lead.

He was the workhorse late in the third quarter and twisted in from three yards for a touchdown and a two-point conversion gave the Bombers a 27-21 lead.

They had a chance to get back in the game early in the fourth quarter, but usually sure-handed Yo Murphy dropped what looked like a sure touchdown pass inside the Bombers' 15-yard line.

"That just makes me sick," said Murphy. "They're counting on me in that situation. That's what they pay me to do and that's what makes me sick.

"The playmakers on this team have to make plays and that includes me. When things go wrong, you can erase them with a big play. In that situation, if I caught that ball and put them behind again, who knows what can happen? Maybe that changes their scheme. Maybe it changes all the little stuff."

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com 


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