Blue Bombers beat BC Lions in OT to stay in 1st place

VANCOUVER — Winnipeg is still the team to beat in the West.

The Blue Bombers took down the BC Lions 34-26 on Friday night at BC Place to claim pole position in the West Division and move one win away from clinching a spot in the Western Final.

A hard-fought battle saw the Blue Bombers score twice with under three minutes left to tie the game at 26 with 12 seconds left in the fourth. Receiver Dominique Rhymes almost ended the game in regulation but was caught by defensive back Jamal Parker five yards short of the end zone on a 65-yard completion as time ran out.

Winnipeg scored first in overtime with a nine-yard run by Brady Oliveira and a two-point conversion on a connection between Zach Collaros and Kenny Lawler before the defence stopped the Lions from tying the game.

Collaros threw a touchdown pass to Janarion Grant – who returned from injury – and Drew Wolitarsky and finished 31 of 41 for 389 yards, two scores and a pick as the Bombers moved to 12-4.

Oliveira added 158 yards from scrimmage and a major to help the Blue Bombers come back on the road on Thanksgiving Weekend presented by Purolator.

Lions’ quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. connected on a touchdown pass to receiver Jevon Cottoy and backup pivot Dominique Davis added a one-yard score as BC dropped to 11-5.

Kicker Sean Whyte converted all four of his field goals for the Orange and Black.

BC came out firing on all cylinders on their first drive as Adams Jr. completed passes to almost all of his playmakers, including Justin McInnis, Cottoy, Lucky Whitehead, Keon Hatcher and Alexander Hollins. Rhymes almost joined the party but a pass to his direction ended up falling incomplete and the Lions opened the scoring with Sean Whyte from 36 yards out for a 3-0 lead.

Winnipeg responded with Collaros also marching the offence down the field – highlighted by a 22-yard connection with Dalton Schoen – to position Sergio Castillo for a game-tying field goal. The Lions kept their lead though as the kicker missed to the left halfway through the first quarter.

The Lions and their quarterback were back at it on their next possession. Adams Jr. got things going with a 17-yard completion to McInnis after scrambling to get out of pressure and followed it up with quick throws to Rhymes and Hatcher to position his team in the red zone. A pass-interference penalty inside the end zone – challenged unsuccessfully by Mike O’Shea – gave BC first-and-goal from the one and they finished it off with a rushing major by Davis to extend the lead to 10-0 with the point after as the clock showed 2:03 left in the quarter.

Winnipeg responded with a scoring drive of their own to cut into the Lions lead. Collaros found Lawler for a 18-yard completion before adding 13 more with a pass to Schoen to set up the Bombers in position to kick another field goal. This time Castillo split the uprights to make it 10-3 early in quarter two.

It took only one play for BC to get on the board again. Adams Jr. took the field after the field goal and immediately went deep to Cottoy for a 70-yard touchdown. Whyte converted the extra point to put the Lions up 17-3 with 11:48 to go in the half.

The Bombers matched the Lions explosiveness by going on a three-play, 60-yard scoring drive. Collaros got a 30-yard completion to Schoen and added 19 more with Oliveira. A play later the veteran quarterback found Grant with a quick pass to the right and the speedster walked into the end zone to cut the lead to 17-10.

The visitors got the ball back after a quick punt with a chance to tie the game in the second quarter. That wasn’t the case however as a promising drive ended when defensive back Adrian Greene caught an overthrown ball by Collaros to turn the ball over back to the home team.

A late long return by Terry Williams all the way to the Winnipeg 37-yard line gave BC a chance to extend the lead in the first half with only two seconds left on the clock. Whyte put it through the post for a 20-10 lead going into halftime.

The second half began with the Bombers making it a one-possession game after a 37-yard field goal by Castillo.

BC also scored on their first possession of the third quarter with Whyte splitting the uprights with a 35-yard kick to push the lead back to double digits.

Castillo made his third field goal of the night with 2:47 left in the third quarter to make it 23-16.

The Bombers were on their way to tying the game after a pass-interference penalty set them up inside the red zone before Betts tackled an unsuspecting Collaros to force a fumble and stop Winnipeg from scoring early in the fourth.

The visitors got another opportunity to even the score by marching all the way to the Lions 19-yard line using the running game with Oliveira and a play-action passing game. BC’s defence stepped up once more when Woody Baron forced another fumble on Collaros, recovered by Sione Teuhema who returned it all the way to the Bombers side of the field. Whyte made it a two-possession game with 6:04 left with his fourth field goal of the game.

Winnipeg continued to move the ball in the fourth and Collaros quickly drove his team into Lions’ territory with quick passes to Oliveira and Rasheed Bailey. The veteran then found Lawler on a comeback route inside the 10 before finding Wolitarsky in the end zone for a 13-yard major. Castillo converted the extra point to make it 26-23 with 2:20 to go.

The Bombers got the ball back only 30 seconds later after stopping the Leos on third down close to midfield and Castillo tied the game from 28 yards out with only 12 seconds left on the clock.

Rhymes caught a 65-yarder from Adams Jr. all the way to Winnipeg’s five-yard line but there was no more time on the clock as the game went to overtime.

The Bombers scored with Oliveira and a two-point conversion by Lawler before the defence stopped the Lions over three plays to win the game and claim the season series over BC.

The battle for first place continues in Week 19 as the Lions travel to Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats on Friday, October 13. The Bombers meanwhile head into their final bye week before hosting the Edmonton Elks on Saturday, October 21, in Week 20 action.

Today's CFL is more than just our great game of football. It's fans sharing their excitement for what they see on the field, and what they experience off it. Stay up to date on all the non-stop action at