Roughriders win Labour Day Classic
Take advantage of ineffective Bishop to move into tie atop CFL West
For those Saskatchewan Roughriders fans still doubting management's decision to waive Michael Bishop last November, the quarterback made things a little easier to swallow on Sunday.
Bishop threw three second-half interceptions to sink any rally attempt by the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who dropped their fifth straight Labour Day Classic, 29-14 to the Roughriders.
Bishop had a chance to cut into a 15-point deficit with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter but on third-and-four from the Riders nine-yard line, his pass intended for wide receiver Terrence Edwards in the end zone was knocked down by Riders cornerback Omarr Morgan.
"They made more plays than us in the end," said Bishop, who hit Adarius Bowman with a 50-yard bomb that set up an 18-yard touchdown pass to his fellow former Roughrider in the third quarter.
"We turned the ball over, and they stopped us down on the goal line," Bishop continued. "If we punch that in, then the momentum changes, and we go in at half feeling good. But they stepped up and made plays. But we're going to whoop their ass next week."
Saskatchewan, which scored 10 points off six Blue Bombers turnovers, improved its record to 5-4 and moved into a share of top spot in the CFL West Division with Edmonton (5-3), which visits Calgary on Monday.
Winnipeg remains third in the East at 3-6.
Cates wins backfield battle
Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Wes Cates can't hold a candle to Winnipeg counterpart Fred Reid in the CFL's rushing race this season, but head-to-head it's a different story.
Reid, coming off a franchise single-game record with 260 yards rushing against the B.C. Lions on Aug. 21, didn't come close to matching that performance in Sunday's 29-14 loss.
After predicting he would have a 300-yard game against the Riders in Regina, Reid was held to 41 yards on 12 carries and one catch for six yards.
Cates, meanwhile, displayed his versatility.
The explosive six-foot, 215-pound tailback ran the ball 16 times for 76 yards and a touchdown, while collecting 84 yards on six catches.
On the season, Reid is second only to B.C.'s Martell Mallett (874 rushing yards) with 836, while Cates is seventh with 428 yards.
While Bishop's statistical numbers from Sunday don't look bad at first blush — 20 completions in 30 pass attempts for 329 yards and a touchdown — it's the three interceptions and overall inconsistency that contributed to Winnipeg's fourth loss in six road starts this season.
It's also one of the main reasons the Riders waived Bishop last Nov. 1, two days after he was picked off three times in a West semifinal loss to the B.C. Lions.
The former Toronto Argonauts signal-caller was given new life in the CFL in July when the Blue Bombers brought him aboard in an attempt to boost a sagging offence.
Bishop, who was toiling for the Corpus Christi Hammerheads in the Indoor Football League before Winnipeg came calling, has played to mixed reviews with the Blue Bombers.
He entered Sunday's game having completed 48.7 of his passes for 708 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, which have long been his undoing.
In seven-plus CFL seasons, he was thrown more interceptions (66) than touchdowns (55).
Saskatchewan defensive back Tad Kornegay and defensive end John Chick made Bishop pay on Sunday.
With the Riders holding a slim 18-14 advantage late in the third quarter and fresh off a missed 42-yard field goal attempt by Luca Congi, Kornegay picked off Bishop at the Winnipeg 49-yard line and returned the ball to the 14.
It marked the first interception by Saskatchewan in three games and led to a 13-yard touchdown reception by Weston Dressler, who was screened on the play by a game official but managed to keep his eye on a Darian Durant pass.
Kornegay also came up big with 5:39 left in the game when he stopped Bombers running back Fred Reid short of a first down. He led the Riders in tackles with five and also intercepted Bishop in the final minute of play.
"He has really been dynamite in that position all year and has made a lot of tackles in the run game, and has been instrumental in our pass defence as well," said Saskatchewan head coach Ken Miller.
Chick also got in the face of Bishop, posting two quarterback sacks to give him a league-leading eight in 2009. The six-foot-four, 248-pounder also knocked down a pass.
"John Chick is really pretty awesome," said Miller. "And he was physically superior to the people they had playing offensive tackle today. He was just running over them, and around them, and getting great pressure on Michael Bishop.
Durant, who took over from Bishop as the Riders starting quarterback, connected on 23 of 37 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. He was also intercepted once.
"You don't really want to compete with the other team's quarterback but given the situation that happened here last year. … I just wanted to come out and show them that it was a good decision, and show the organization that myself and [backup] Steven [Jyles] we can lead this team," said Durant.
"I think they made the right decision and this [win] is one step toward validating that point."
The two teams will complete the home-and-home series Sept. 13 at Winnipeg's Canad Inns Stadium in a 3 p.m. CT start.
With files from The Canadian Press