The Winnipeg Blue Bombers backups couldn’t keep the streak alive.
With many of their starters left home in Winnipeg, the Bombers’ nine-game win streak ended with a 28-14 loss to the Montreal Alouettes in the rematch on Saturday afternoon at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.
With first place in the West Division already sewn up, the Bombers opted to rest nine starters, including quarterback Zach Collaros.
The Bombers bolted out to an early lead, but the inexperience of quarterback Sean McGuire was on display in his first career CFL start. Although the rainy conditions certainly didn’t help, McGuire had four costly interceptions and passed for only 149 yards as the Bombers lost for the first time since Aug. 21.
Winnipeg falls to 11-2 on the season.
The Bombers hadn’t allowed a fourth-quarter point the last five games, but the shutout streak ended with Montreal scoring 11 points in the final quarter. It was the first time all season the Bombers surrendered a fourth-quarter touchdown.
It was an ideal start for the Bombers. The Alouettes fumbled the opening kickoff, giving McGuire some great field position for his first drive. It took just three plays for running back Brady Oliveira to find his way into the end zone, but Sergio Castillo missed the convert, so it was an early six-point Bombers lead.
But Winnipeg gave the ball back later in the opening quarter. McGuire was picked off by Najee Murray deep in his own end. The Als turned the interception into a touchdown just a few plays later with Eugene Lewis making a magnificent catch in the end zone and Montreal took a one-point lead.
The Alouettes would drive the length of the field in the second quarter. After converting on a third-down gamble, quarterback Trevor Harris spotted Lewis in the end zone again for his second touchdown of the game to cap off a 15-play drive. Montreal led by seven points at halftime.
McGuire completed just three of his nine pass attempts for 24 yards and one interception in the first half.
After a long punt return by Martese Jackson in the third quarter, the Als tacked on a field goal to lead by 10.
In the fourth quarter, Bombers returner Shaq Cooper fumbled the ball on a punt return to give the Als great field position, and Reggie White Jr. later scored on an eight-yard TD strike to extend the Als lead to 17 points.
The Bombers made it look a little more respectable as Darvin Adams hauled in a 30-yard TD pass from McGuire.
But McGuire threw three more interceptions in the final seven minutes to sink the Bombers’ chances.
Filling in for Stanley Bryant, offensive lineman Drew Richardson left the game in the first quarter with an injury. Geoff Gray finished the game at left tackle.
In addition to Collaros and Bryant, the Bombers were also resting starters Brandon Alexander, Janarion Grant, Jackson Jeffcoat, Pat Neufeld, Deatrick Nichols, Steven Richardson and Nick Taylor. Many of the Bombers starters who did dress were removed from the game in the second half as the club tried to play it safe.
Running back Andrew Harris missed his third straight game with a knee injury.
The Bombers will close out their regular season schedule next Saturday in Calgary against the Stampeders with kickoff scheduled for shortly after 6 p.m.
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