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It's a miracle: Bombers lead Riders

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Bombers Jovon Johnson carries the ball during the first half of the Banjo Bowl.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Bombers Jovon Johnson carries the ball during the first half of the Banjo Bowl. Photo Store

The joint is sold out and rockin’ and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are actually giving the fans at Investors Group Field something to cheer about at the 10th annual Banjo Bowl.

The Bombers lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders 24-13 early in the fourth quarter in front of 33,500 and have been inspired by some spectacular play by their special teams and defence. Winnipeg has TDs on a spectacular 98-yard kickoff return by Will Ford and two short runs by Justin Goltz and while the defence has sacked Darian Durant three times and forced two fumbles.

Saskatchewan’s scoring has come from kicker Chris Milo’s foot as he has been perfect on four field goals from 13, 14, 30 and 50 yards while Ricky Schmitt has hit a long single.

For all their failures on the field this season — and they’ve been legion — the Winnipeg Blue Bombers headed into this afternoon’s Banjo Bowl at Investors Group Field a roaring success off of it.

With a sellout crowd pf 33,500 already guaranteed for this afternoon’s matchup between the 1-8 Bombers and the 8-1 Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Bombers have averaged an eye-popping 32,446 spectators through their first five regular season home dates at IGF.

The previous franchise attendance record was set in 2011 when an average of 29,556 fans turned up at slightly smaller Canad Inns Stadium in a season in which the Bombers went to the Grey Cup game.

But while the Bombers are eclipsing their former attendance marks this season, there are a couple qualifiers. Today’s sellout is actually just the second capacity crowd the Bombers have recorded in five regular season games at their new stadium this season. And there are also serious questions being raised about what’s going to happen to Winnipeg’s attendance in their final four regular season games this season if the club doesn’t find a way to win again soon.

The Bombers are riding a seven-game losing streak heading into this afternoon’s game against a Riders squad that dominated the second half of last weekend’s Labour Day Classic in Regina en route to a 48-25 win over the Bombers.

Winnipeg started tailback Chad Simpson this afternoon — he suffered a foot injury last weekend — but  have former NFLer Mike Sims-Walker in the lineup for the first time.

Sims-Walker led the Jacksonville Jaguars in receptions and receiving yards in 2009.

The Bombers game time scratches are OL Tyson Pencer, DL JT Gilmore, LB Jeremy McGee and DB Bo Smith.

The game is being broadcast live on TSN and CJOB.

History

Updated on Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM CDT: First quarter summary

4:41 PM: Updated after first half

5:39 PM: Updates score

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