Blue Bombers beat Alouettes, remain perfect with 9th straight win

MONTREAL — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to claim a 35-20 win over the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday night at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

The undefeated Bombers improve to 9-0 at the midpoint of their season, while the Als fall to 2-6 with their second straight loss.

Winnipeg and Montreal entered the fourth quarter tied 14-14, but the defending champions took control by scoring 21 straight points — including a 57-yard punt return touchdown from Janarion Grant to seal the win.

Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros completed 15 of 26 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also intercepted three times.

Dalton Schoen and Rasheed Bailey caught the touchdowns for Winnipeg, while running back Brady Oliveira added 92 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

Along with the three picks, Montreal’s defence also had three sacks and a fumble recovery.

Trevor Harris completed 16 of 26 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss.

» Box Score: Als, Bombers by the numbers
» Through the Lens: Bombers at Als
» Watch: Usher gets a big fumble recovery for Montreal

The Alouettes’ defence forced a turnover on the game’s opening drive when defensive back Wesley Sutton picked off Collaros. Sutton returned the interception 18 yards to set the offence up at Winnipeg’s 27-yard line, but the ensuing drive stalled and the Als settled for a 24-yard field goal from David Côté.

Montreal’s defensive front applied consistent pressure on Collaros throughout the first quarter, culminating in a strip-sack by defensive back Adarius Pickett. Defensive end Nick Usher recovered the fumble for the Als, but they were unable to convert the turnover into points this time around. Montreal opted to go for it on third down at Winnipeg’s six-yard line, but Harris’ pass to Eugene Lewis in the end zone was caught out of bounds.

Winnipeg’s offence took over and proceeded to drive down the field. Collaros stretched the field with a 35-yard strike to Oliveira, and a costly pass interference penalty on cornerback Rodney Randle Jr. moved the ball down to Montreal’s nine-yard line four plays later.

Collaros capitalized on the field position with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Schoen, who beat Randle on a slant route. Marc Liegghio kicked the extra point to give Winnipeg a four-point lead in the second quarter.

The Bombers were unable to add more points before halftime, as Collaros was picked off by Najee Murray with under two minutes left in the quarter.

Côté cut Winnipeg’s lead down to one point with a 41-yard field goal early in the third quarter, but the Bombers responded with a touchdown drive that was aided by another costly Montreal penalty. Liegghio kicked a 19-yard field goal attempt through the uprights after Collaros was unable to move the chains, but Winnipeg was awarded a fresh set of downs due to a pyramiding penalty during the kick.

Collaros seized the opportunity two plays later with a five-yard pass on the run to Bailey, who made a diving catch for the touchdown. Liegghio added the convert to put Winnipeg up 14-6.

But the momentum was short-lived, as Montreal rookie Tyson Philpot moved the ball into Winnipeg territory with a 60-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. Philpot followed it up three plays later with a 15-yard catch-and-run touchdown that saw him make multiple defenders miss on the way to the end zone.

Montreal decided to go for the two-point conversion, and backup quarterback Dominique Davis made it count by carrying the ball across the goal line — tying the game at 14 points apiece.

The Als intercepted Collaros for the third time late in the third quarter when receiver Nic Demski bobbled a would-be touchdown pass and Montreal defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy stole the ball away.

Drew Wolitarsky gave the Bombers renewed life in the fourth quarter with a 41-yard catch down the right sideline, moving the ball to Montreal’s four-yard line. Winnipeg capped the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Dakota Prukop to take the lead. Liegghio kicked the convert to put Winnipeg up 21-14.

Winnipeg kept rolling in the fourth quarter with Grant’s punt return touchdown, an interception by Adam Bighill, and a six-yard touchdown run from Oliveira.

Montreal answered back in the final minute when Davis completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to receiver Reggie White Jr., but it was too little too late.

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