The Winnipeg Blue Bombers offence was nearly unstoppable.
The Bombers scored touchdowns in all of their first six possessions in a dominant 51-6 victory over the rival Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 19th annual Banjo Bowl on Saturday at a sold out IG Field.
The Bombers avenged last week’s overtime loss in the Labour Day Classic as they took out their frustrations on the Riders after the fourth quarter head-butt to win the season series for the third straight campaign.
The Bombers scored six touchdowns for 42 points in a heavily lopsided first half. It was the most points scored by a team in the first half in the CFL all season.
Dalton Schoen had a hat trick of touchdowns, while Brady Oliveira, Kenny Lawler, and Dakota Prukop also had major scores as they finished with 603 yards of net offence.
“It’s gonna be hard to find any fault in this game,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “It’s as clean a game as you would hope for. I don’t know, you’d like to be able to duplicate those.
“In every game there’s a wrong depth or missed a block or missed a tackle. There’s always corrections going on in the headset and this time the headset was pretty quiet throughout the entire game. An indicator that guys are executing at a very high level.”
Oliveira had over 200 yards from scrimmage. He rushed for 154 yards and added another 57 yards receiving in going over the thousand yard rushing mark for the second straight year.
“It’s not really often where you get to go with performances like that,” said Oliveira. “And rush the ball for that many yards as a total team and be that successful on first down and score that many touchdowns.”
“He puts on his own boots every day,” O’Shea said. “I don’t think he’s wearing shoes, wearing big work boots.
“He’s a pleasure to watch cause he’s serious about his craft and he’s becoming a good professional. And he brings it.”
Fueled by the anger of last week’s loss and the head-butt, quarterback Zach Collaros completed 18 of his 21 passes for 319 yards and five TD’s before giving way to Dru Brown early in the fourth quarter.
“I think where you channel it is during your preparation during the week,” Collaros said. “There was definitely an edge to practice this week. There’s definitely an edge in the locker room. You still got to put it altogether and execute, and we did a good job of that.”
Collaros has not lost back-to-back games since joining the Bombers and is now 4-0 in the Banjo Bowl which includes one win with Saskatchewan.
“He was on,” said O’Shea. “That was fun to watch.”
Both Schoen and Lawler eclipsed the century mark in receiving.
The Bombers scored at least a field goal on all but one possession, only punting once the entire game.
After the Roughriders scored a field goal on their first possession, the Bombers marched the length of the field. They gambled on third and goal from the one-yard line with Prukop shoving his way across the goal line for the game’s first touchdown.
Oliveira capped off a huge first quarter by taking a shovel pass 17 yards for another touchdown for a 14 to 3 lead.
There was no slowing down the Bombers offence in the second quarter either. Collaros sprinted out of the pocket before spotting Lawler around the 10-yard line. And he just fought his way across the plain of the goal line to make it a 21-3 advantage.
Schoen made touchdown catches on the next three straight possessions to close out a heavily one-sided 42-point first half. The Bombers had 405 yards of net offence in the first two quarters alone, while holding the Riders to only 108.
With the end result no longer in doubt, both teams coasted through the second half without a touchdown as the Bombers won by 45 points.
The Bombers have now won 12 of their last 19 matchups against the Riders, including seven of their last eight.
Winnipeg improved to 10-3 to tighten their grip on first place in the West Division.
The Bombers had linebacker Malik Clements back in the lineup after a stint on the six-game injured list with a hamstring injury. The Riders played without Pete Robertson who was serving his one-game suspension for head-butting Collaros in the Labour Day Classic.
Former Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler was in attendance for the annual rivalry game.
Strevy in the 🏠 to take in the Labour Day Rematch!
— CFL (@CFL) September 9, 2023
Legendary former Bombers receiver James Murphy was added to the Winnipeg Football Club’s Ring of Honour at halftime.
The Bombers will hit the road for their week 15 matchup against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats next Saturday afternoon. The Riders host the Edmonton Elks on Friday night.
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