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Blue Bombers take dominant Banjo Bowl victory over Roughriders –



A pair of Blue Bombers quarterbacks led the team to victory on Saturday.

Starting QB Zach Collaros completed 18-of-23 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns while Sean McGuire, his backup, scored three touchdowns as the Bombers trounced the Saskatchewan Roughriders 33-9 in a CFL slugfest.

The game was played before a sold-out Banjo Bowl crowd of 33,134 fully vaccinated fans at IG Field.

Collaros completed touchdown passes of 39 yards to wide receiver Darvin Adams and 52 yards to slotback Kenny Lawler in the fourth quarter.

“I felt pretty good while we were out there,” said Collaros. “We didn’t have a ton of snaps in the first half. Put together a couple of drives, I think we scored touchdowns there.

“But it was either we scored quick or we were two-and-out or four-and-out, something like that. But I felt like we were executing decently. Obviously, at the end did some good things, and hope to build on it moving forward.”

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Winnipeg defeated Saskatchewan 33-9 at home on Saturday. 3:40

Saskatchewan starting quarterback Cody Fajardo was removed from the game midway through the third quarter due to concussion protocol after he was sacked by Winnipeg defensive end Willie Jefferson. Fajardo, who had completed 11-of-17 passes for 169 yards at the time, was replaced by Isaac Harker.

Fajardo did suffer a mild concussion, Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson said.

‘Means a little bit more to win both of these’

The game was also marred by a second-quarter brawl that resulted in two Roughriders getting ejected.

With back-to-back wins over the Riders, Winnipeg improved to 5-1 on the season and remained in sole possession of top spot in the West Division. Saskatchewan dropped to 3-2 and remained in second.

“I’m just really happy for the organization and for our fans,” Collaros said. “I know Labour Day and the Banjo Bowl are very important to the CFL, to this organization and to our fans, ultimately, and we feel that as players. We know that. We take it one game at a time, obviously, but it means a little bit more to win both of these.”

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Tens of thousands of football fans packed the stands to watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 17th Banjo Bowl, which feels extra special for many after missing out on an entire CFL season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 1:36

Collaros also joked about MGuire’s three TDs — all on one-yard sneaks.

“I thought Canada was a hockey country,” he said. “Like, how did everybody not throw their hats on the field. The hat trick, you know?

“But I’m really happy for Sean. Sean’s a great guy, great football player. He works his butt off. I think he’s going to be a great player in this league.”

Saskatchewan’s Harker completed 10-of-13 passes for 89 yards and ran for 14 on three carries after Fajardo was pulled out of the action.

2nd-quarter brawl

The Bombers grabbed a 12-9 lead on McGuire’s second touchdown late in the first half. That’s when a brawl broke out with punches thrown, at least one facemask grabbed, players piling on top of each other and flags flying all over the end zone.

As a result, Saskatchewan defensive lineman Garrett Marino and defensive back A.J. Hendy were ejected from the game. No Bombers were ejected.

“The guys were a little bit fired up,” said Roughriders linebacker Micah Teitz. “It’s always testy down there and we felt like they were doing a little too much extra and you’ve got to stick up for your teammates when that happens. Unfortunately, we got some boys being ejected, which always hurts the team, so we can’t be doing that. That’s just football.”

Teitz was surprised no Bomber suffered a similar fate.

“That’s crazy,” he said. “Obviously, I didn’t get to see everything. I was in it. I don’t even know what to say about that. When there’s a huge thing like that, you obviously expect people on both sides to get gone and when it’s only us, it’s a tough one.”

Dickenson was also taken aback.

“It wasn’t good news when they [officials] told me that two of our guys got tossed and I asked how many of theirs and they said none,” he said. “We must have done something. They said punches were thrown, so I assume that our guys did it.”

That left Saskatchewan two starters short on defence.

“It’s super tough,” Teitz added. “I know we have to stick up for the boys but sometimes, throwing punches isn’t the answer. So, you’ve got to get them back on the field, so we’ve got to stop that.”

Saskatchewan placekicker Brett Lauther kicked field goals of 25, 24 and 30 yards, all in the first half as the Bombers did not allow a single point in the second half for the second straight game.

“Winnipeg is the class of the league right now,” Dickenson said. “I think they are better than the rest of us and I think it’s by quite a bit.”

Saskatchewan next plays host to the Toronto Argonauts on Friday while the Bombers travel to Edmonton to play the Elks on Saturday.

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Watford wins first start as Ticats shut down Mitchell, Stamps – TSN



HAMILTON — David Watford’s first start in the CFL resulted in a win, even though none of his drives resulted in a touchdown.

Taylor Bertolet connected on all five field-goal attempts and Simoni Lawrence scored a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Calgary Stampeders 23-17 at Tim Horton’s Field on Friday.

Watford made his first start under centre for the Ticats (3-3) after injuries to Dane Evans (lower-body) and Jeremiah Masoli (ribs), and finished the game with 19 passes on 22 attempts for 149 yards passing. Masoli dressed as the backup up Friday.

Bo Levi Mitchell was 16 for 28 passing for 170 yards and one interception for the Stampeders (2-5). It was the quarterback’s first loss against Hamilton in his career, after winning the previous 12 games against the club.

Both teams struggled to sustain any offence to start.

In the first quarter, Watford went two-and-out on his first drive of the game from Hamilton’s 27-yard line. But the pivot received favourable field position for his next drive that commenced immediately after Calgary’s Richard Leonard fumbled a punt return. Ticats kicker Bertolet hit a 47-yard field goal despite that put Hamilton on the board 3-0.

The Stampeders replied when they recovered a ball off a fumbled punt return by Hamilton’s Frankie Williams. Calgary kicker Rene Paredes hit a 31-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3.

In the second quarter, the Stampeders fumbled their second punt return, this time by Markeith Ambles. Watford managed his longest drive of the half, eight plays for 47 yards. Bertolet completed the drive with an 18-yard field goal to put the Ticats up 6-3 with 35 seconds remaining until halftime.

Hamilton mustered 110 yards of offence in the first half, edging out Calgary’s 107 yards.

The Ticats opening scoring in the second half on the opening drive when Bertolet hit his third field goal of the game from 49 yards out for a 9-3 lead.

On Calgary’s following drive, Luther Hakunavanhu for a 74-yard catch that set up a one-yard touchdown by Jake Maier for the game’s first major.

Paredes converted the point after to give the Stampeders their first lead, 10-9, with 11:14 remaining in the quarter.

The catch by Hakunavanhu was his first reception in the CFL. The fifth-round pick in the 2021 CFL Draft saw more action with starting receiver Hergy Mayala missing the game with a quad injury.

The Ticats replied with their first touchdown of the game, and it came from the defence.

Lawrence picked off Mitchell for a 15-yard touchdown, then Maleek Irons rushed the ball into the endzone for a two-point conversion that gave Hamilton a 17-10 lead over Calgary at 6:35.

Bertolet hit a 19-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that increased Hamilton’s lead to 20-10. He followed that up with 32-yard field goal late in the quarter for a 23-10 lead.

Mitchell was pulled in favour of backup quarterback Maier for the final 2:20 of the game.

Maier connected with Richard Sindani for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds remaining in regulation. The point after cut Hamilton’s lead to 23-17.

The Stampeders attempted an onside kick but were unsuccessful, ending any attempt at a comeback.

Fifteen thousand fans took in the game at Tim Horton’s Field, the maximum allowed under current COVID-19 protocols set forth by the provincial government.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2021.

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Blue Jays need to determine next steps for Ryu after thumping from Twins –



TORONTO – The most urgent question suddenly before for the Toronto Blue Jays is whether Hyun Jin Ryu’s past two outings are a blip, or a trend.

Either way, the veteran lefty has certainly given his team cause for concern. Since a Sept. 6 gem against the New York Yankees, in which he threw six shutout innings and struck out six while allowing only three hits, he’s delivered consecutive duds, getting blistered for 12 runs on 13 hits over 4.1 innings in the process.

The latest thumping came in Friday night’s 7-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, during which he allowed five runs on five hits in two-plus innings, including back-to-back homers from Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson. Put in a wider context, the start marked the sixth time this year he’s allowed more than five runs, with four of them coming in his last eight outings.

“I’ve been leaving a lot of my pitches over the plate too much, more than I’d hope, and that’s resulted in a lot of runs in a single inning,” Ryu said through interpreter J.S. Park. “That’s the struggle this month.”

Mixed into that stretch is a seven-shutout-inning start against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 21, a 5.2 inning, three-run outing Aug. 31 against Baltimore in which he carried a no-hitter into the sixth and the Yankees gem, which he left early with forearm tightness.

Whether that’s a lingering issue is unclear – Ryu said he felt fine after his rocky last time out Sept. 11 against the Orioles – but with the Blue Jays fighting for the post-season, determining next steps for him is critical.

“Not really in that aspect,” Ryu replied when asked if there was a connection between the arm issue in New York and his subsequent performances. Later he added, “I feel fine. I don’t feel anything different.”

Jose Berrios, who left his outing Tuesday with tightness in his left abdomen, will make his next start Sunday, manager Charlie Montoyo said before the game, with Alek Manoah pushed to Tuesday, as a way to manage his workload. As Sportsnet colleague Ben Nicholson-Smith detailed here, that gives the Blue Jays the option of skipping Steven Matz on Sept. 29 and pitching Berrios and Robbie Ray against the New York Yankees in that crucial series.

That would also keep Ray on turn for a potential wild card game Oct. 5, and Berrios in line for a tiebreaker game Oct. 4, if needed. But such a scenario also calls for Ryu to pitch next Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays and the series opener against the Yankees on Sept. 28, and he made it through just four batters in the third Friday, unable to deliver a shutdown inning after the Blue Jays had given him a 2-1 lead in the second.

Montoyo said skipping a start is “always an option” for any of his pitchers but Ryu “hasn’t complained about anything (physical). His command hasn’t been there and that’s one of the reasons he has struggled.”

“But he’s fine. He’s healthy. He hasn’t complained,” Montoyo continued. “It’s all about his command. If he gets it, he’ll be fine, like he’s always done in the past.”

Ryu’s long track record earns him some rope.

But if something is amiss physically – and even extra rest, a boost that coming into the night lowered his ERA from 5.64 in 12 starts on four days to 2.61 in 10 outings on five days, didn’t help Friday – can the Blue Jays chance it in critical contests?

Friday’s loss dropped the Blue Jays (82-65) a game back of the Boston Red Sox (84-65) for the first wild card and a half game back of the New York Yankees (83-65) for the second.

Montoyo pointed to how much trust he has in his lefty and praised him as “that guy that can make an adjustment just like that from outing to outing.”

Ryu, for his part, isn’t interested in taking a start off.

Asked if he thought that might be beneficial, Ryu replied, “I don’t really want to think about it that way and on top of that, I don’t really want to do that.”

Regaining his usual pinpoint command, the skill which allows him to thrive despite a fastball velocity hovering around 90 m.p.h., was key, he said, and that, “I just need to find myself and try to fight back through this.”

The Blue Jays offence, which got Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 46th homer of the season and not much else, can’t be expected to bail Ryu as he tries to regain equilibrium, the way they rallied from five runs down to beat the Orioles last Saturday, and the issue isn’t just the result.

To get through Friday’s game, the Blue Jays had to burn through Ross Stripling (who gave up Miguel Sano’s solo shot as he entered the game before throwing three innings), Julian Merryweather (who gave up a Brent Rooker solo shot), Nate Pearson, Ryan Borucki and Adam Cimber.

It’s the type of bullpen usage that usually gets someone optioned, while leaving the relief corps thin for the rest of the series, although Montoyo said his relief corps is fine for Saturday and that several of the relievers actually needed work.

Regardless, a strong outing Saturday from Matz would do everyone a solid with the Blue Jays having started a stretch of 10 straight games without a break.

Berrios can do the same Sunday by showing the Blue Jays that the abdomen tightness issue is behind him, but the rotation stability that has fuelled the club’s recent surge suddenly feels a little unsettled.

It could simply be a brief aberration, one that happens over a long season and something Ryu will soon correct. But if it’s a trend, the Blue Jays don’t have the runway to wait out the struggles until he gets back to normal.

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Riders' offence comes to life in win over Argonauts – TSN



REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders ended a frustrating touchdown drought Friday in a 30-16 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.

The Riders entered the game having not scored a touchdown since the third quarter of a 23-10 victory over the Ottawa RedBlacks on Aug. 21. The streak, which included back-to-back defeats against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, ended when Cody Fajardo scored on a quarterback sneak on Saskatchewan’s first possession of the game.

Receiver Brayden Lenius increased Saskatchewan’s lead to 15-3 early in the second quarter when he hauled in 12-yard touchdown pass from Fajardo. Tailback William Powell set up the touchdown with a 33-yard run.

The Riders defence come up with three turnovers in the first half. Elie Bouka and Deon Lacey both forced fumbles that Saskatchewan recovered. The Riders also had a goal-line stand late in the second quarter, stopping Toronto quarterback Nick Arbuckle on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line and running back John White on the following play.

Toronto trimmed the Saskatchewan lead to 18-9 with a six-play, 66-yard scoring drive to open the second half. Receiver DaVaris Daniels played a big role in the drive, catching three passes for 60 yards including a 21-yard touchdown reception.

Rookie receiver Kian Schaffer-Baker had a breakout game for the Riders, catching nine passes for 99 yards. He scored his first CFL touchdown in the fourth quarter, catching a short pass and breaking a number of tackles en route to a 24-yard score. Fajardo connected with Mitchell Picton on a two-point convert attempt to increase the Riders lead to 26-9.

Arbuckle tossed his second touchdown pass of the game four minutes into the fourth quarter, connecting with Eric Rogers on an 18-yard play. The major narrowed the Riders lead to 27-16.

Powell finished with 122 rushing yards on 21 carries. He had an impressive first half, gaining 86 yards on 13 carries.

Fajardo completed 21-of-31 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also had 58 yards rushing on eight carries.

Riders kicker Brett Lauther was 2 for 4 on field-goal attempts, connecting from 23 and 24 yards while missing from 46 and 41 yards.

Micah Johnson, Deon Lacey, Keion Adams and Jonathan Woodard recorded sacks for the Riders while Nick Marshall had an interception.

Charleston Hughes and Dewayne Hendrix had sacks for the Argos. Crezdon Butler had an interception.

Arbuckle finished with 309 yards passing, connecting on 22-of-33 attempts. He had two touchdown passes and one interception.

Argos linebacker Cameron Judge was injured six minutes into the game after suffering an apparent leg injury.

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