The Roughriders’ loss to Winnipeg could cost them more than just their position in the standings — they may also have lost their starting quarterback.
The Bombers dominated for most of the game, but the worst thing that may have happened to the Riders was when Kevin Glenn went down in the third quarter.
When asked after the game was over head coach Chris Jones said he had no update on his starting pivot, but he’s obviously worried.
“If your starting quarterback’s not there it’s concerning for everybody,” Jones said.
Back up Brandon Bridge entered the game in his place and went on to score a touchdown, but it was not enough to bring the momentum back to the green and white.
Bridge said he prepared this week like he was going to be the starter, so it helped him going into the game but admitted it’s hard to come into a game with a 17-point deficit.
“They knew we were going to pass the ball so it’s harder for the QB to do his thing but honestly, I shouldn’t have thrown that pick but other than that I thought I did fairly decent for the circumstances I went in for,” he said.
In the end, the Roughriders just didn’t have enough to beat the Bombers who were hungry from a loss last week and looked motivated from start to finish.
“They outworked us, they outplayed us on special teams and I think they outplayed us in most aspects of the game,” said running back Kienan LaFrance, who started for the first time for the Riders on Saturday.
LaFrance had a solid game in his debut for the green and white, rushings for 49 yards and scoring one of the Riders three touchdowns, but the Bombers just had more and seemed to have the answers right from the start.
In fact, Glenn was intercepted on the opening drive of the football game and while Justin Medlock missed the resulting field goal attempt, Duron Carter was tackled on the five-yard pinning the Riders deep in their own end.
The ensuing two and forced the Riders to punt and a 29-yard return by the Bombers set up an easy first touchdown for Matt Nichols and the offence.
The Bombers went up 7-0 and didn’t relinquish the lead all game.
The closest the Riders came to having the lead was in the first quarter after Glenn found Carter wide open near the sidelines and he ran the football back 88 yards to pay dirt: the longest touchdown of his career.
The first quarter ended 7-7.
Unable to capitalize on a drive-ending sack by Willie Jefferson, Bartel came in to punt with disastrous results on the return. The Bombers added a little trickery into the mix with Kevin Fogg fooling everyone into thinking he was the return man. Meanwhile, Maurice Leggett caught the ball and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown.
The Roughriders receiving corps went back on display with another monstrous touchdown. Glenn finding another one of his receivers — this time Naaman Roosevelt — wide open and he scampered 75 yards for a touchdown. Roosevelt hit 102 yards on four receptions.
After the major Glenn wasn’t able to connect with Bakari Grant for the two-point convert so the Riders remained down 15-13.
The Roughriders took a risk on a short kick afterward, but it was recovered by the Bombers, and Nichols took advantage of the strong field position. After a roughing-the-passer penalty placed the offence on the 18-yard line, he hit Denmark in the end zone to go up 22-13.
But the Riders answered back. Greg Morris earned back-to-back first downs before a quarterback keep by Glenn put the Riders on the Bombers 26 yard line. A stupendous catch by Rob Bagg gave the Riders a fresh set of downs on the one-yard line, and LaFrance ran it in for a touchdown in his hometown.
Once considered a shoe in for the Rider starter, he was held back by an injury in training camp and the stellar play Cameron Marshall who’s now dealing with an injury of his own.
Despite the outcome of the game, LaFrance said it felt good to be back out on the field.
“(I felt) a little bit rusty but it’s nice to get the full work load again and start to get a lot more reps so I’m looking forward to the next few weeks,” he said.
The Riders were down by just two points with two minutes to go in the half, but the momentum swung back to the Bombers once again.
Nichols marched his offence back down the field and threw to Darvin Adams in the end zone. Adams appeared to trip either on his own or on Kacy Rodgers feet. It was called accidental pass interference by the officials and it put the Bombers on their own one-yard line.
The Riders struggled with penalties during the game, getting eight of them at what seemed to be the worst possible times.
Capitalizing on Rodgers pass interference call, Dan Lefevour rushed it in to give the Bombers a 29-20 edge at halftime.
“You can’t beat this kind of team having that many penalties, myself included so we have to go back to the drawing board,” Rodgers said.
The second half didn’t treat the Roughriders much better, with Leggett intercepting Glenn around the seven-minute mark of the half and running it back down for a touchdown.
The Bombers went up on the Riders 38-20.
Glenn began to march his team down the field again, but it was a drive he wouldn’t get to finish. After completing a 27-yard pass to Caleb Holley, Glenn went down with an apparent injury to his throwing hand and Brandon Bridge came in to finish the game.
Bridge found Bagg for a 15-yard gain then held on to the ball himself on the next play, leaped over a defender and scored a touchdown.
He found Caleb Holley for a two-point conversion to bring the Riders within 10.
With the ball back, Nichols put his offence to work masterfully, completing an 80-yard drive with first down after first down. He capped it off with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Lankford.
The Riders were unable to put together a drive of their own, despite a 41-yard reception by Holley, and opted for a short punt by Bartel. However, it was the Bombers that once again came up with the football on the trick play and it placed them on their own 50-yard line.
The drive ended with a field goal by the Medlock to make it 48-28.
In the dying minutes of the game, Henoc Muamba created a great opportunity for the Riders when he punched the ball out of Nichols hands on a 41-yard run, but Bridge was intercepted on the next play, essentially slamming the door on a Riders come back.
After the game, defensive back Ed Gainey was at a loss to explain what was different from last week.
“We came in, we wanted to win the game. We didn’t come in to lose. The mentality was to come in and be consistent … I don’t know. I can’t call it. They beat us flat out,” he sighed, before pointing to the Winnipeg fans.
“Obviously the home field advantage, they had the crowd into it … it’s a tough environment to play in.”
The Bombers went on to run the clock down and win the season series.
The green and white are now 5-5 on the season, heading into their next game in Hamilton on Friday.
“When they get that many points there’s a lot of things that aren’t working. It’s not just the defence, it’s not just special teams, it’s everything combined. Unfortunately, we took a step back today,” Jones said.
“We put ourselves in a situation where we’re now 50/50 and we’ve got to win football games.”