Roughriders edge Blue Bombers 23-17
WINNIPEG - Saskatchewan defensive back Terrell Maze intercepted Drew Willy and ran 28 yards for a touchdown to help the Roughriders defeat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23-17 on Thursday night.
Saskatchewan (4-2) tried a two-point passing play following Maze's TD at 12:40, but Darian Durant's pass was incomplete and the score stayed 22-17.
The turnover came after the Bombers (5-2) had gained the upperhand when receiver Rory Kohlert got behind a defender and hauled in a 12-yard pass from Willy in the end zone to go ahead 17-16 with 5:25 left.
His two-point convert attempt was unsuccessful in front of Winnipeg's first sellout crowd of the season of 33,234 loud fans at Investors Group Field.
On Winnipeg's next series after the Maze TD, Willy was intercepted by defensive back Mark Legree, who also intercepted him in the first quarter.
Riders kicker Chris Milo attempted a 32-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in the game, but missed and added a single for the final 23-17 score.
Willy completed 23 of 39 pass attempts for 303 yards, three interceptions and one TD.
Durant was 13-of-21 for 115 yards and no interceptions and no TDS.
Winnipeg had led 10-3 at half-time, thanks in part to Saskatchewan's eight penalties for 83 yards, but then luck turned the Riders' way.
With Willy at his own 28-yard line, Riders George Tearrius forced him to fumble and teammate David Lee picked up the ball and ran seven yards for the touchdown at 12:51 of the third quarter.
Winnipeg defensive back Demond Washington then fumbled the kickoff when he tried to run through some defenders and Saskatchewan receiver Chaz Schilens recovered the ball.
The turnover led to Milo booting a 10-yard field goal 15 seconds into the fourth quarter for the 13-10 lead.
Winnipeg kicker Lirim Hajrullahu added a punt single and Milo booted a 40-yard field goal to up Saskatchewan's lead 16-11 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.
Milo was also good on a field goal from 42 yards and missed a 48-yard attempt.
Willy scored a touchdown on a seven-yard run in the second quarter and Hajrullahu also made a 41-yard field goal and added a 50-yard punt single for Winnipeg's other points.
The rookie Hajrullahu has now connected on 16 of 17 field-goal tries this season.
Winnipeg's opening drive of the game was stopped when Willy's pass was tipped into the hands of Legree. The turnover led to Milo's 41-yard field goal at 7:14.
The Bombers chipped away for their first points, with Willy putting up an eight-play, 27-yard drive that resulted in Hajrullahu's 41-yarder with 1:12 left in the first quarter.
Winnipeg got the first touchdown of the game on Willy's seven-yard run at 9:33 after a 13-play, 99-yard drive that was aided by two Saskatchewan penalties for illegal contact on a receiver.
Willy also had a 13-yard run up the middle during the drive and Nic Grigsby made an 18-yard catch. Clarence Denmark had a 16-yard reception.
Milo went wide on a 48-yard field-goal attempt during Saskatchewan's next possession and Washington brought it out to the eight-yard line.
Winnipeg ended up punting and Saskatchewan started at the Bombers' 45-yard line after being called for illegal substitution. The drive went nowhere and the score remained 10-3 for Winnipeg.
Saskatchewan had eight penalties for 83 yards in the first half compared to Winnipeg's four for 38 yards.
Willy was 13-of-21 for 145 yards passing in the first half. Durant completed five-of-10 passes for 51 yards.
The Riders appeared to have a promising drive going late in the third quarter after fullback Jerome Messam replaced running back Will Ford and put up a 23-yard carry, but a face mask penalty killed the momentum and they ended up punting.
That luck changed on Winnipeg's next possession with Lee's fumble recovery for the TD that tied the game 10-10, followed by Washington's fumble on the kickoff that led to another Milo field goal.
Saskatchewan had won 10 of the last 12 games between the clubs heading into the match.
The teams play each other two more times this season, next in the Labour Day Classic in Regina and a week later in Winnipeg for the Banjo Bowl.