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Roughriders look to put controversies aside in Banjo Bowl rematch
The Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers vie for control of a loose ball during second half CFL action in Regina on Sunday, September 3, 2017. (Mark Taylor / The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, September 9, 2017 12:21PM CST
WINNIPEG -- Andrew Harris sent some medical advice to one of his Saskatchewan rivals this week.
The Blue Bombers running back revealed with a grin what he messaged to a Roughriders defender ahead of Saturday's sold-out Banjo Bowl rematch in Winnipeg.
"I texted one of the guys and said, 'Make sure you get your electrolytes in,' " Harris said after Friday's walk-through.
"So hopefully they get the Pedialytes and electrolytes in and we can get our hurry-up (offence) going."
And what was the response by the unnamed Rider?
"He just gave me the big lookie eye emoji so I don't know what that means," Harris said. "He might have snitched on himself."
Last week's 38-24 win by Saskatchewan in the Labour Day Classic featured controversies on and off the field, from allegations of the home team faking injuries to Saskatchewan receiver Duron Carter saying a Bombers fan spit on him while another Winnipeg fan reportedly tried to grab Rider mascot Gainer's costume head.
Saskatchewan's defensive line had three injuries that interrupted Winnipeg's hurry-up offence.
Tackles Eddie Steele, a Winnipeg native like Harris, and Makana Henry both stopped Winnipeg's offence when they allegedly cramped up. Ese Mrabure, who was wearing a cast for a broken finger, halted play because the cast supposedly was pressing on the injury.
The players had to sit out three plays as per CFL rules, but Saskatchewan was rotating eight defensive lineman so it was suspected to be a ploy to disrupt Winnipeg's hurry-up attack.
Harris said the delays weren't to blame for Winnipeg's loss, which halted its five-game win streak (7-3) and gave the Riders their third straight victory and a 5-4 record.
The Bombers fell behind 24-3 in the first quarter as the Riders scored on their first four possessions, including a major after quarterback Matt Nichols was intercepted.
Nichols threw a pair of interceptions and completed 35 of 47 pass attempts for 364 yards and two TDs.
Adjusting to a possible repeat of Saskatchewan's iffy injuries isn't at the top of the pivot's mind.
"I'm a firm believer in control what you can control," Nichols said. "We're going to run our offence, we're going to run the plays that are called. It's not something you can really think too much about."
Saskatchewan quarterback Kevin Glenn was 26 of 36 for 386 yards and three TDs as the Riders finished with 458 yards of net offence.
The visitors are a banged up bunch right now, with 18 players on the injured list, including 17 on the six-game list.
"Hopefully, our guys can continue to rise to the occasion," Saskatchewan head coach and general manager Chris Jones said.
The squad has been doing that during its three-game win streak, putting up at least 38 points in each of those victories.
The Riders had a trio of pass catchers go over 100 yards receiving last week: Bakari Grant (139), Naaman Roosevelt (119) and Carter with a team-high 10 catches for 101 yards.
"It's never going to be an easy challenge with (Saskatchewan's) group of receivers," Bombers defensive back T.J. Heath said. "We know they're good, but we also know that we're good, too, so it'll be fine."
Carter said he has no "ill feelings" toward the Bombers fan who spit on him after he celebrated a TD with fans along the back of the end zone, but he may avoid that area in Investors Group Field.
"I might have to stay away from out of there," Carter said. "There might be some beer cans or some more spit. If I score, I might have to do a little dance."
Bombers receiver Weston Dressler had six catches for 64 yards last week, taking him closer to cracking the CFL's Top 25 all-time list for receiving yards. He has 648 receptions for 9,206 yards and will pass Jim Young (9,248) if he has a 43-yard outing.
Dressler was unaware of the upcoming milestone.
"It's humbling," he said. "It's pretty special to be in that category, but our main focus is on winning the game."