Shawn Bane Jr.’s two point conversion in overtime proved to the be difference in another memorable Labour Day Classic, with Saskatchewan Roughriders defeating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 32-30 in overtime.
Roughriders quarterback Jake Dolegala ended the game 22/36 for 326 passing yards.
Running back Jamal Morrow had 113 combined yards on offence for the Roughriders.
With a raucous crowd at kickoff, the Roughriders pulled off an onside kick to open the game to send Rider Nation into a frenzy. Riders kicker Brett Lauther recovered his short kick to create the first turnover.
The first big play came from the green and white defence when Nic Marshall Sr. intercepted Zach Collaros’ pass inside Winnipeg territory. The green and white didn’t move the ball any further, setting up a Lauther 48-yard field goal to open the scoring.
Things began to open up in the second quarter on both sides. Facing 2nd and 14 at the own 4-yard-line, Dolegala completed a pass to Tevin Jones, who broke a tackle and turned it into a 64-yard reception. Two plays later, Dolegala found Mitch Picton for a 37-yard reception setting up the Roughriders at the Blue Bombers five-yard-line.
Down to a third and goal situation from the one-yard line, Saskatchewan quarterback Antonio Pipkin reached over the goal line for the opening touchdown.
In typical Winnipeg fashion, they didn’t waste any time to strike. Collaros used the rollout to his advantage. First, he found Nic Demski for a 42-yard catch. Collaros threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Wolitarsky on the next play.
Lauther added a 27-yard field goal to give the Roughriders a six-point lead at halftime.
The Roughriders opened up the scoring in the second half. Jamal Morrow’s run of 25 yards allowed Lauther to connect with a 30-yard field goal to give Saskatchewan a 16-7 advantage.
Down by nine, Winnipeg displayed their opportune prowess. Facing 2nd and 20, Collaros pass for Kenny Lawler was broken by the Roughriders Amari Henderson, but Henderson was called for pass interference, giving the Blue Bombers a new set of downs. Two plays later, Collaros connected with Demski for a 52-yard reception inside of the Saskatchewan five-yard line.
Oliveira would find the end zone to cut the Roughriders lead down to a pair of points.
On the final play of the third quarter, Lauther added another field goal, this time from 53-yards.
Following the play, Saskatchewan was called for unnecessary roughness, which gave Winnipeg the ball at midfield. The Blue Bombers marched the ball inside, the Roughriders ten-yard line, before the Roughriders defence forced a stop. Winnipeg settled for a field goal, trimming the Roughriders lead within two points.
Roughriders punter Adam Korsak added a 61-rouge to create a three-point advantage.
It appeared the Bombers would have to settle for a game-tying field goal after the Roughriders stopped the Blue Bombers inside of the Roughriders ten-yard line, but Roughriders defensive end Pete Robertson gave Collaros a headbutt, giving the Blue Bombers a new set of downs. Oliveira ran it in the end zone to five Winnipeg a 24-20 lead.
Another Korsak rouge, turned the Roughriders deficit into three points.
With less than two minutes remaining, Dolegala was connected with Morrow for a pair of receptions for 41-yards that would lead to a 18-yard field from Lauther, sending the game into overtime.
Saskatchewan would start overtime with the ball. Dolegala found Emilus for a 13-yard reception, followed by a 21-yard catch by Morrow at the one-yard line. Pipkin scored his second touchdown of the game with the one-yard plunge.
With an eight point deficit, Collaros found Lawler on the next play to turn the score 32-30. On the two-point conversion, Collaros pass was deflected by the Riders safety Jaxon Ford, who replaced an injured Jayden Dalke earlier in the game, giving Saskatchewan the win.
Post Game Comments
Moments after the big knockdown from Ford, he spoke with 620 CKRM’s Daniella Ponticelli and noted the Ford family has seen plenty of success on Labour Day.
“My grandpa (Alan) as a player was 7-1, now we’re 8-1. “
Head Coach Craig Dickenson joined Michael Ball during the post-game show and gave credit to his defensive coordinator Jason Shivers for the play call on Winnipeg’s attempt for two points.
“It was a great call by Shivs (Shivers) at the right time, I’m telling you we needed it, every play we made today we needed it, that was a good outfit we played, it was just one of those classic Labour Day games, every team was making plays.”
The Roughriders took 10 penalties for 115 yards and Dickenson even with the win, said the penalties were a problem.
“I got an issue with them to be quite honest, I got an issue with our guys making them, I got an issue with them, you know how they are interpreted, I got to do a good job of talking to the officials, asking how are they seeing things and why they are calling it the way they are, we’ll work on it and we’ll try and get better, we overcame a lot of adversity tonight, a lot of it was self inflicted.”
Dickenson was frustrated by the pass interference call that Henderson received.
“Maybe between of all us, the officials and the coaches, we can come up with a clear and easily defined interpretation of what pass interference is, cause right now, none of us know what it is.”
The Riders head coach was disappointed with Robertson taking the penalty a key juncture of the game.
“We had the drive stopped, it gave them a touchdown, I think, boy I hope he learns from that, and we’ll sit him down and make sure it’s clear as day, we won’t tolerate those selfish penalties and that’s exactly what it is.”
Robertson said his emotions got the better of him.
“It was an exciting play on my end and I got to learn how to control myself a little bit.”
The Riders defensive end said it was physical game with words exchanged between the two sides all night.
“Playing against Winnipeg, it’s always a physical game, so that happen all night from the first to the fourth quarter.”
Robertson said at this point he isn’t thinking about possible repercussions for the hit to Collaros.
Morrow said the Roughriders offensive staff by coordinator Kelly Jeffrey were recognizing the way the linebackers were covering him and knew that was a matchup Saskatchewan could use to their advantage.
“I think Coach Kelly (Jeffrey) did a great job of seeing those opportunities, when he called those plays it got me one-on-one with the linebacker, that’s my job, you know that’s why I do, man-t0-man with the linebacker I got to take advantage of that, Coach did a good job of exposing that. I’m doing my job of making the play.”
The Saskatchewan running back told Ball that he felt crossed the goal line before his body touched the ground, but was happy it became a moot point with Pipkin scoring go-ahead touchdown.
Dolegala felt the 2023 edition of the Labour Day Classic lived up to the hype.
“I think that was what everyone asked for, obviously it came down to the wire, like you couldn’t of drawn it up any better.”
With the Roughriders losing right tackle Colin Kelly midway through the game , the green and white offensive line had to dig deep with Logan Ferland moving to replace Kelly at right tackle and Logan Bandy coming in the game to replace Ferland at guard. The Roughriders quarterback was proud of the effort from the o-line.
“They battled all night, they did a great job when he had to shuffle them all around, shoutout to them, they gave me plenty of time, a couple of sacks were on me, so props to them, they did a great job.”
Jones led Roughrider receivers with five catches for 96 yards and said Dolegala was in the right frame of mind as entered the huddle on the final drive in regulation before Saskatchewan tied the game.
“Jake is calm, he’s a leader, he had us all calm.”
Nic Marshall said he was prepared for Winnipeg’s play call before he made his interception.
“I was just watching film all week on it. ” He added, “I really wanted this game bad.”
The extra time analyzing the game tape paid off for the Roughriders cornerback.
“When you trust your instincts, you just trust what you see on the field, and it how comes true.”
Collaros ended the game with 279 passing yards with a pair of touchdown passes and one interception. Oliveria had 88 yards on the ground, leaving him just short of the 1000-yard mark for the season. The running back also had a pair of touchdown runs.
Saskatchewan was able to prevail against Winnipeg despite only scoring two touchdowns while the Blue Bombers found the end zone on four occasions.
Demski led Blue Bomber receivers with 118 yards receiving.
It was another memorable Labour Day Classic for Lauther, who ended the night with five field goals.
Morrow says the Roughriders can’t let their foot off the gas pedal with a quick turnaround before the two teams meet in the Labour Day Classic rematch.
“We got a short week, but we have to come out with the same intensity and the same focus, that’s all we’re worried about, we know Winnipeg is a tough team, we know what they bring, to go ahead and beat them twice is tough.”
The Saskatchewan running back added, “I think we have the guys to do that.”
With the win, the Roughriders move back over .500 at 6-5 and are four points back of BC for second spot in the Western Division. Saskatchewan will meet Winnipeg in a matchup that will determine the season series between the two teams on Saturday.
Coverage of the Labour Day rematch from IG Field begins at 11:00, the opening kickoff is at 2:00.