Bombers Bowl-ed over

Riders defender Lance Frazier (right) tackles Blue Bombers receiver Romby Bryant on Sunday. (Sun...

Riders defender Lance Frazier (right) tackles Blue Bombers receiver Romby Bryant on Sunday. (Sun Media)

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:12 PM ET

Take solace, Bomber fans.

You got to witness a piece of history yesterday.

It was the wrong kind, but it was history nonetheless.

When the Saskatchewan Roughriders obliterated the Blue and Gold 55-10 yesterday in the sixth annual Banjo Bowl, the 45-point loss tied a Winnipeg Football Club record for worst home defeat.

Winnipeg's only other 45-point home setback occurred nearly 60 years ago, on Oct. 15, 1949, when the Roughriders bombed the Bombers 45-0 at Osborne Stadium.

The Roughriders (6-4) turned eight Bomber turnovers into 31 points yesterday and swept the annual early September home-and-home for the second straight year.

"This is embarrassing -- very, very embarrassing," said defensive end Gavin Walls, whose unit was on the field for a whopping 38 minutes as the Bomber offence did its familiar flop. "I almost want to walk out of here with a bag on my head.

"But it's professional sports. You get to live another day, you get to play another game, and we have to do something as players. We gotta figure something out. It's not good. We're heading to destruction."

Winnipeg fell to 3-7, but is still tied for third in the East Division with the Toronto Argonauts. The Bombers, however, are two points out of a playoff spot due to the crossover.

Their next game isn't any easier, in Montreal on Sunday against the East-leading Alouettes (8-2).

A disgruntled fan strolled down the west-side walkway with a "Fire Kelly" sign in the second half yesterday and garnered plenty of cheers. Not only that, but the Fire Mike Kelly Facebook page had 286 members as of press time last night.

However, president and CEO Lyle Bauer said last night he is not considering a coaching change. Kelly, meanwhile, will continue to ignore his critics.

"They have every right to have their opinion, and I understand their frustration," he said. "I have a very visible job, and everybody thinks that they can do it."

If Walls sees an iceberg on the horizon with his "heading to destruction" comment, then Kelly is steadfastly sitting in the captain's chair of the Titanic.

"You stay the course," Kelly said. "And people are going to say 'Oh my gosh!' I've watched pretty good football coaches as they've tried to build something that had some sustainability have a pretty tough time of it in the first year.

"... We believe that we're pointed (in the right direction)."

That's becoming a tougher sell to Bomber fans. Quarterback Michael Bishop completed nine of 21 passes for 98 yards and two interceptions. Backup Bryan Randall had another dismal showing in relief, completing two of nine attempts for 26 yards and two picks.

Running back Yvenson Bernard fumbled twice, receiver Adarius Bowman put the pigskin on the ground once, and Fred Reid failed to gain enough yards on a fake punt. The Bomber defence, playing without disgruntled middle linebacker Barrin Simpson, allowed 462 yards of total offence.

The Bombers have placed Simpson on the nine-game injured list, effectively ending his season.

Those in the Bomber locker-room said the team is still playing for Kelly -- just not very well.

"I don't think we're quitting, but there's no execution," defensive tackle Doug Brown said. "It was just a complete collapse in terms of performance in all three aspects."

Just how embarrassing was it for the Bombers yesterday? Riders kick returner Jason Armstead, on an end-around reverse, threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Andy Fantuz in the third quarter.

Wes Cates had two rushing touchdowns and a receiving major, while Luca Congi booted six field goals. Quarterback Darian Durant, who was good on 18 of 36 passes for 225 yards, one TD and one pick, also had a rushing score.

Fred Reid had a 35-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for the Bombers, and Alexis Serna booted a 48-yard field goal in the fourth.

Winnipeg middle linebacker Joe Lobendahn, starting in place of Simpson, had three tackles and got kicked out of the game for rough play in the third quarter.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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