WINNIPEG — A 45-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Anthony Gaitor and Darvin Adams’ 72-yard TD reception sparked the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 31-0 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.
Winnipeg extended its winning streak to four games and improved to 9-7 in the tight CFL West Division standings.
It was the Blue Bombers’ first shutout victory since a 29-0 win over Hamilton in 2006. The Riders’ last shutout loss was a 24-0 decision to Edmonton in 2014.
Winnipeg safety Taylor Loffler intercepted Riders quarterback Zach Collaros twice and the home team scored all 31 points by halftime in front of 26,070 fans at Investors Group Field.
The Bombers also avoided a season-series sweep by the Riders (10-6), who had already secured a playoff spot. Saskatchewan, which had its three-game win streak halted, finished the game with four turnovers while Winnipeg had one.
Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols completed 10 of 18 pass attempts for 155 yards with one TD pass and no interceptions.
Backup Chris Streveler played the fourth quarter, completing three of five passes for 47 yards with one TD and one interception. He also ran seven times for 45 yards.
Collaros was 8 for 19 for 69 yards with two interceptions.
He was replaced by Brandon Bridge early in the third quarter. Bridge went 7-for-12 for 59 yards with no interceptions.
Veteran Winnipeg receiver Weston Dressler, a game-time decision after injuring himself in practice during the week, stretched for a 31-yard TD pass from Streveler, who later recorded a one-yard plunge for his own TD. Justin Medlock was good on a 29-yard field goal and had four converts.
The Bombers led 14-0 after a first quarter in which Saskatchewan turned the ball over on its second and third possessions of the game.
A Collaros pass was caught by Kyran Moore, but Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill forced a fumble and Gaitor caught the loose ball and ran 45 yards for the 7-0 lead at 5:22.
On the Riders’ next series, Loffler stepped in front of a Collaros throw, caught the ball and ran 33 yards to Saskatchewan’s 49-yard line. A run for no gain and a sack forced Winnipeg to punt.
Adams made it 14-0 after he got behind Riders safety Mike Edem and hauled in a long bomb from Nichols that he turned into a 72-yard TD with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Loffler’s second interception of the game — his third pick of the season — led to Medlock’s 29-yarder at 6:11 of the second quarter. The drive was highlighted by running back Andrew Harris getting a direct snap and flipping the ball to Dressler, who ran for a 20-yard gain.
Saskatchewan offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek left the game on a cart in the second quarter after injuring his left leg in a pile of players. Defensive lineman Mic’heal Brooks was also taken off in a cart with two minutes left in the game.
Streveler went in on second down and short and threw the TD pass to Dressler at 12:31. Two minutes later, Streveler kept the ball and pushed in one yard for the 31-0 lead at 14:32.
The last time the Riders were behind by such a wide margin at halftime was on August 3, 2000, when Montreal led 41-7 at the break and won 62-7.
The Bombers will next have a bye week while the Riders play in Calgary next Saturday.
Judy Owen, The Canadian Press