June 10, 2017 - 10:45pmUpdated: June 12, 2017 - 7:19am
Arielle Zerr/980 CJME
Brandon Bridge, seen here at training camp, had a strong showing in the Riders first preseason game on June 10, 2017.
There was a lot of hype around Bryan Bennett going into Saturday night’s preseason game, but it was Brandon Bridge that impressed the Rider faithful.
“I wanted to show consistency, show I know where to go with the ball and just show that I’m ready to lead this offence,” Bridge said of his performance.
Bridge strung together several short throws to start the game off, connecting on his first two passes with Naaman Roosevelt.
An incomplete pass to Duron Carter after chased the Rider offence off the field, but a quick two and out by the Rider defence had Bridge back behind centre and crafting the Riders only touchdown drive of the game.
A penalty on the punt return led to excellent field position with the team starting on Winnipeg’s 52-yard line. Bridge was sacked on the second play, but an unnecessary roughness penalty extended the play for the Riders.
After a few first downs and a couple Winnipeg penalties Bridge found Duron Carter for the first Roughrider touchdown in new Mosaic Stadium and put his team up 7-0.
In the end, Bridge went 20 of 26 for 201 yards and a touchdown. He said he didn’t think he was “exactly great” because he wants to score more touchdowns in the red zone.
“I know that we need to finish drives. We had five, six field goals and we can’t be a great team like that.”
Head coach Chris Jones had the same observation about the offence, but seemed proud of the young Canadian quarterback.
“I thought Brandon played really, really well,” Jones said, before adding that Bridge had done that once before for them during a game in B.C.
“And here’s another opportunity on a big stage, opening the new stadium where he played really well.”
On the other hand, the quarterback who had been much touted for his strength in training camp did not show so well under Mosaic’s bright lights.
A dejected looking Bennett said that he is going to try not to dwell on his shaky Roughrider debut.
“Obviously I wanted to come out and start it off strong today but it didn’t happen,” he said.
Jones said he will get another chance in B.C. next week to see if he can overcome his difficult start.
“You evaluate what you see at practice, but when the lights come on that’s when the true evaluations are made.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Jones said they seemed to taper off as the game went on.
The Riders went into the second half up 13-3, but the game ended in a tie, in part, Jones said because the defence wasn't playing as strong as they did at the beginning of the game.
“As the game wore on I felt them less and less ... we’ve got to be able to rush for and cover man to man and if we can’t do those two things we won't’ be a good football team,” he said.
Winnipeg’s offence, which had been largely dormant in the first half showed some signs of life in the third quarter when Dominque Davis threw a touchdown to TJ Lowder to make the score 19-10 for the Riders.
With five minutes left the Bombers put up two more touchdowns, taking the lead for the first time in the game.
Fortunately for the green and white the offence was able to march down the field once more for the game-tying field goal.
The game ended with the teams even at 25 as the CFL does not play overtime in the preseason.
The Riders travel back to Saskatoon Saturday night for the conclusion of training camp next week.
On Thursday the team flies to B.C. for their Friday night matchup against the Lions.
ODDS AND ENDZONES
Bryan Bennett went 7 of 15 for 82 yards but fumbled the football three times.
Marquise Williams was 5 of 6 for 38 yards.
Quincy Walden ran a missed field goal back 87 yards before he was tackled by the kicker himself on the Bombers 37 yard line. The drive ended with a Quinn van Gylswyk field goal.
Van Gylswyk went 4 for 4 on field goals. His longest was 46 yards. Tyler Crapigna went 2 for 2.
Antwane Grant led the Riders in receiving yards with 63, Carter caught the sole touchdown.
Jonathan Newsome and A.C. Leonard both collected Roughrider sacks.
There was a lengthy delay in the second quarter after Bombers returner Ryan Lankford fumbled the football. Riders defensive back Jeff Hecht picked up the fumbled ball, but there were several skirmishes after the play and the Bombers also challenged it. It took several minutes for the referees to sort everything out.