REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders are quickly becoming one of the hottest teams in the CFL.
Kevin Glenn threw three touchdown passes as the Riders beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 38-24 on Sunday for their third straight win.
The three-game winning streak has Saskatchewan above .500 at 5-4 and tied for fourth place in the West Division with the B.C. Lions. Saskatchewan trails Winnipeg and Edmonton, both tied for second place, by just four points.
"We're just running our plays and everybody is in sync right now,'' said Riders receiver Duron Carter. "When a football team is in sync, it's hard to stop. Any play that we run is breaking through. We're making a lot of plays right now and we're a tough team to stop.''
Glenn has been the catalyst during the hot stretch. Saskatchewan has scored 133 points, averaged 44 points per game, over the past three contests.
Glenn, who was 26 of 36 for 386 yards against Winnipeg, connected with Naaman Roosevelt and Rob Bagg for first-quarter touchdowns. Backup quarterback Vernon Adams added a rushing touchdown that pushed the Riders ahead 24-3 after the opening quarter.
Glenn hooked up with Carter in the second quarter on a 17-yard touchdown reception - his team-leading seventh major score - and Tyler Crapigna's two field goals gave the home team a 34-16 lead at halftime.
"Say that a team comes out and scores three quick touchdowns and it's 21-0, you would probably bet your money that that team was going to win the game,'' Glenn said. "It doesn't matter who's playing, if a team has a fast start like that, typically you can control the game.''
Taking advantage of field position helped too.
"We're starting fast and making sure we're taking advantage of the opportunities,'' Glenn added. "The defence set us up in the red zone a couple of times. If we only come away with field goals instead of touchdowns then it might be a different game.''
The score and the noise from the sellout crowd at Mosaic Stadium was a deflating combination for the Blue Bombers, who slipped to 7-3.
"That's never how you want to start a game,'' said safety Taylor Loffler. "Once you dig yourself a hole like that it's pretty tough to climb out. We had a good run toward the end, but we had a lot to overcome and that makes it hard on everyone.''
The Riders' balanced attack on offence proved difficult for Winnipeg. Three Saskatchewan receivers - Bakari Grant (139 yards), Roosevelt (119 yards) and Carter (101 yards) - eclipsed the 100-yard mark.
"We're really comfortable with what we have,'' Carter said. "As a receiver group, we're not selfish at all. We're always making sure we have the best matchups out there and KG (Glenn) is just finding us. We always have trust in KG to find us.''
Winnipeg found traction in the second quarter when quarterback Matt Nichols engineered three scoring drives. A 13-yard touchdown pass to Timothy Flanders and two field goals from Justin Medlock helped cut into the Saskatchewan lead late in the first half.
After the Winnipeg defence limited the Riders to a field goal in the third quarter, the Blue Bombers offence continued to rally in the fourth.
A 10-yard touchdown reception from Andrew Harris brought the visitors to within 14 points at 37-23. But that was as close as the Blue Bombers came to pulling off an improbable come-from-behind victory.
Nichols finished 35 of 47 for 364 yards. Harris led the Blue Bombers with 10 receptions for 72 yards. Flanders had 78 receiving yards, Weston Dressler added 64 yards on six catches and Darvin Adams had the second Winnipeg touchdown.
The same two teams meet in Winnipeg on Saturday.
(The Canadian Press)
POSTGAME COMMENTS FROM CHRIS JONES
- We played good football. When you give up 400 yards offense, you can never say you played great. We need to eliminate the big plays they had.
- You've got to play two halves. That's why there's four quarters. We have to learn to shut them down when we get up.
- Last week was a pretty good start in Edmonton too. I'd rather execute over four quarters than to blow them out early and then hang on at the finish line. You don't have to be Superman out there. Just do your job. Be in the right place and give great effort.
- It's a lot easier calling defensive plays when you're watching your offense move the ball down the field and score points.
- The crowd is always impressive. Fan day was impressive yesterday. Whenever you talk about our fans, it's always impressive.
- We (the coaching staff) wouldn't have come here if that wasn't the case. Quite honestly, we'd have stayed in Edmonton. We had it pretty good. But here when people get up in the morning, they want to read something on the internet about their football team. That's what makes it special here.
- We had our back up against the wall and we had something to prove. We're not asking anybody to play a perfect game. Just do the things you're asked. Other than that, play fast and have fun.
- We've got an awful good football team. To say we've got everything we need, that would be premature. We had holes in Edmonton too. But it's up to other teams to find those holes.
- Ed Gainey made a big play early, and then he made a really big play late when they went to a guy that's hot for them. He's a really good football player.
- KG played very well tonight. He was 70-something percent, throwing it really well. He didn't miss many throws tonight and he had a few drops. He's playing very well. He broke the team down tonight and you can see that the guys are rallying behind him. He's such a high-character guy. He's there regardless, and that's why we like him.
- Winnipeg's a loud place to go play. Even the old stadium was loud. We've got practice with noise this week. We had two offside penalties at home as it is, so we have to be better in that area.