Rider defence the story as Bombers shot down
Bishop's debut as Saskatchewan QB a limited success after just four days' practice
Michael Bishop had everything he needed for a successful debut with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday afternoon: quick feet and a heck of a defence behind him.
Traded from Toronto last week after Marcus Crandell fell out of grace and was cut, Bishop had just four practices to get ready for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
And his performance was about as expected, throwing for just 107 yards, but running for 51 more and bulling his way into the end zone from nine yards out for the game's only touchdown as the Riders broke a two-game losing streak by beating Winnipeg 19-6.
Saskatchewan improved to 7-2 with the victory, holding on to first in the West while the Bombers dropped to 2-7, last in the East.
"It is a rush to put a new quarterback in after four days of practice, and he showed that a little bit, but he also showed a lot of ability and a lot of potential," said Saskatchewan coach Ken Miller.
"Michael Bishop operated our offence reasonably well. He managed the game. He made a lot of plays with his legs and showed you a lot of his athleticism and how he's able to make plays with his legs."
This game actually belonged entirely to the Riders bend-but-don't-break defence, which allowed Winnipeg pivot Kevin Glenn to throw for 269 yards on 28-for-42 passing.
But most of that yardage was on the wrong side of the field as the Bombers simply could not finish anything they started, a situation not helped by four turnovers, three on consecutive possession between the second and third quarters.
Star runner Charles Roberts was also kept at bay by the Riders, running 13 times for 48 yards.
A last gasp drive by Winnipeg inside of the final two minutes came up short as Glenn was picked off in the end zone by Lance Frazier for his league-leading fifth of the season.
"I don't know exactly what it is, but if I had the answer, if I had the formula, we wouldn't be going through this right now, but we've got to figure it out," Winnipeg receiver Milt Stegall said.
"We've got to figure out something, because if we continue like this, it will be over."
Bishop has bumpy beginning
Bishop's first throw as a Rider went incomplete, and his second was picked off at the Winnipeg 25 by Anthony Malbrough. Bishop made sure of that one by tackling Malbrough himself.
The second possession was much better as Bishop took his team into field goal range, where Luca Congi kicked a 27-yarder (his first of four on the day) to make it 3-0 Saskatchewan.
Glenn led his own march for the Bombers, but the offence bogged down and Alexis Serna tied the game with a field goal
Near the end of the first quarter, Bishop began to show some of the talent the Riders thought they were getting.
Does it with the legs
Beginning on his own 35, Bishop made three nice passes to Adarius Bowman (25 yards), Wes Cates (18 yards) and Michael Palmer (14 yards) that put the ball on the Winnipeg nine.
From there, Bishop ran it in, helped by a few heavyweight offensive linemen who pushed him across, and with the Congi convert it was 10-3.
Two more Congi field goals before the half sent the teams to the orange slices with Saskatchewan up 16-3.
Bishop was 7-of-15 for 91 yards in the air in the first half as the Riders came up with 165 yards in total offence. Glenn was 13-for-18 and 90 yards as part of a disappointing 111 attack in the first 30 minutes.
Roberts carried the ball eight times for 18 yards and a fumble.
Still work to do
Bishop said afterward that there was a lot of work still to complete.
"We will get it together, and we will improve, and we will be a better team," he said. "The greatest challenge today was being calm and knowing where everyone's going to be and deliver the ball.
"A couple of times I did that, and a couple of times we weren't successful."