WINNIPEG - Once again, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers found a way to lose.
Sandro DeAngelis’ 40-yard field goal with no time left on the clock gave the Saskatchewan Roughriders a 25-24 win over the Bombers in the ninth annual Banjo Bowl after a questionable decision by interim head coach Tim Burke.
The Bombers led 23-22 with 36 seconds left and were on the Saskatchewan 36, but the Bombers decided to punt instead of trying the field goal with the wind. Mike Renaud’s punt, however, resulted in a single and Saskatchewan got the ball back on their 35.
It took Riders backup Drew Willy just four plays and 24 seconds to move 43 yards and get the Riders into scoring position. DeAngelis didn’t flinch, and the Riders (5-5) handed their Bombers (2-8) their third straight loss.
Winnipeg’s next action is Friday against the Stampeders (6-4) in Calgary, where it hasn’t won since 2002.
Riders quarterback Darian Durant left the game late in the first quarter with a hip flexor injury and did not return. Drew Willy took over and had his team leading 21-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
Winnipeg caught a break early in the final frame when Riders punter Chris Milo couldn’t handle a bad snap and had to kick wildly at the ball, hitting his own teammate instead. The Bombers recovered on the Riders 47, but they had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Justin Palardy that got them to within a point.
Winnipeg’s Kenny Mainor was about to sack Willy and cause Saskatchewan to punt, but he drove him back on his feet about 10 yards and then slammed him to the turf, drawing a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty and giving the Riders a first down. The drive stalled, however, and DeAngelis missed a 40-yard field goal that resulted in a single and a 22-20 Saskatchewan lead.
Elliott hit Chris Matthews with a long pass down the sideline to get Winnipeg in field goal range, but Palardy’s 45-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Mick Williams.
The Bombers held the Riders deep in their own zone, and Saskatchewan opted to punt. The Bombers started their drive on the Riders 37-yard line with 4:20 to go, and Palardy’s fifth field goal of the day, from 30 yards out, gave Winnipeg a 23-20 lead with 2:40 remaining.
Winnipeg took a 14-13 edge into the third quarter, but the Riders grabbed the lead back when running back Kory Sheets capped a long drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
The Riders added to their lead with a Chris Milo punt single, but the Bombers responded with a long drive that once again failed to end in a touchdown. Palardy kicked a 19-yard field goal to cut Saskatchewan’s lead to 21-17. The Bombers have gone the equivalent of more than two games without an offensive touchdown, while quarterback Joey Elliott hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Aug. 16 against Hamilton.
The Bombers took a 10-3 lead into the second quarter, but the Riders tied it up quickly when Sheets took a screen pass from Willy and scrambled 33 yards for the tying touchdown. The key block on the play came from Brendon LaBatte, who shoved aside Henoc Muamba to clear space for Sheets.
The Riders got back into scoring territory and appeared to take a seven-point lead with Scott McHenry’s touchdown catch, but Saskatchewan receiver Chris Getzlaf was flagged for offensive pass interference. Saskatchewan had to settle for DeAngelis’ 22-yard field goal.
After another Bombers drive stalled, Brandon Stewart, who was moved from strong-side linebacker to cornerback this week, picked off Willy and returned it 17 yards to the Saskatchewan’s 24-yard line. The offence continued its futility, however, going two-and-out. Palardy hoofed a 32-yard field goal to tie the game for the third time.
Winnipeg had a solid drive late in the second quarter, but they had to settle for Palardy’s 36-yard field goal attempt into the wind. It didn’t come close, and the Bombers got a single that gave them a one-point edge at the break.
The Bombers had been outscored 64-8 in the first quarter this season going into the contest. Demond Washington alleviated that stat somewhat when he took a Chris Milo punt late in the opening quarter and raced down the sideline 82 yards for his second return touchdown of the season, sending most of the 30,077 spectators into a frenzy.
It was Winnipeg’s first touchdown in the first quarter this season.
The Bombers got off to another inauspicious start when Terrence Edwards fumbled after making a catch on Winnipeg’s first offensive play. Former Bomber Odell Willis recovered the ball and asked Milo to boot the pigskin into the crowd. When Milo wouldn’t do it, Willis went ahead and gave it a kick.
The Bomber defence held, however, and DeAngelis booted a 33-yard field goal to put the visitors up 3-0.
Winnipeg had a much better second drive, as quarterback Joey Elliott hit Edwards with a 44-yard pass into Saskatchewan territory. As is usually the case, the drive stalled on the 15-yard line, and the Bombers settled for Palardy’s 22-yard field goal that tied the game at 3-3.
Willis was the most noticeable ex-Bomber. Aside from his first quarter fumble recovery and celebration, he also drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty against Shannon Boatman on a play where the Bombers completed a long pass. Willis stood in the middle of the field, faced both sidelines and pointed his fingers backwards.