Blue Bombers clinch first with dominant win over BC Lions

With a dominant performance on Saturday night, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers clinched the top spot in the West Division and will host the Western Final on December 5.

The Blue Bombers were in total control for the entire contest, not allowing the Lions to put any points on the board through four quarters and walked away with a 45-0 win.

Zach Collaros led the way for the Bombers in the victory, throwing three touchdown passes; one to Rasheed Bailey and two to Kenny Lawler. The Bombers pivot connected on 16 of 20 passes for 267 yards.

Running back Brady Oliveira scored his first CFL touchdown filling in for an injured Andrew Harris to go along with 65 yards rushing.  Willie Jefferson scored on a pick-six while special teams got in on the scoring as well as Janarion Grant returned a punt to the house.

The three-phase win at IG Field improved the Bombers to 10-1 on the season.

» Through the Lens: Lions at Bombers
» Boxscore: Lions, Bombers by the numbers
» Watch: Jefferson gets in on the scoring with pick-six

Photo: Jason Halstead,

Both teams traded punts to start the contest but the Bombers were in full control after that. Janarion Grant had a 32-yard punt return to give the Bombers good field position to start their second possession, setting up their offence on BC’s 34 yard line.

That field position lead to the opening score of the evening, as Zach Collaros found Kenny Lawler in double coverage in the end zone for six. Along with the convert after the three-play, 34-yard score, Winnipeg took an early lead. The Bombers also added a single on Mourtada’s kickoff that travelled into the end zone, putting them up 8-0.

On the Blue and Gold’s next possession, the team used a number of their offensive players including Brady Oliveira, backup QB Sean McGuire, Darvin Adams (who hauled in a 52-yard catch and run on the drive) and Nic Demski to get into scoring position. The drive ended with Rasheed Bailey catching a 17-yard touchdown pass from Collaros while running back-first into the goal post. The six-play, 90-yard drive, along with the point-after, increased Winnipeg’s lead to 15-0 with just under four minutes left in the opening quarter.

Reilly and the Lions responded by moving the chains themselves, a drive that was highlighted by a 12-yard run from James Butler and a 22-yard catch from Jevon Cottoy. The Bombers defence held strong, however, and BC had to settle for a field goal try. Jimmy Camacho missed his 46-yard attempt and Grant continued to help his team in the field position game, returning the miss 47 yards as the first quarter was coming to a close.

As the Bombers had their foot on the gas, McGuire fumbled on third down, turning the ball over and bringing Reilly and co. back on the field. BC had to punt the ball away, however, and both teams ended up traded punts in the beginning portion of the second frame.

Despite a sustained Bombers drive that ate up a good portion of the clock, the home team came away with no points and had to punt. The Lions began their next drive pinned at their own six-yard line following an excellent punt by Marc Liegghio with four minutes remaining in the first half. Reilly and his offence were held to a two-and-out, however, and were forced to punt. Collaros and co. went back to work at their own 52-yard line.

That led to another single following a Liegghio’s punt into the end zone, adding a point to the Bombers’ lead (16-0). That was the final scoring play of the first half.

Nathan Rourke started behind centre the second half for the BC Lions and picked up a first down by calling his own number for a 10-yard run on the opening play. That was it for the Canadian pivot, however, as Reilly returned for the next play. Nothing came about on the drive for the visitors as the Bombers defence continued to flex their muscles and Flintoft punted once again.

Collaros and co. started moving the chains down the field on their opening drive of the second half, continuing their momentum from the first 30 minutes. A few different receivers had big gains on the possession, including a Drew Wolitarsky 37-yard catch-and-run, a 12-yard gain from Adams and 16-yard catch from Demski. Plus, a defensive pass interference call on Garry Peters moved the ball down inside the Lions five-yard line.

On Collaros’ second attempt at throwing to Oliveira, both were incomplete, a roughing the passer penalty was called on Kevin Thurmon. The Lions challenged and it was not successful. McGuire came in at QB on the two-yard line and handed off to Oliveira who plunged in for his first CFL touchdown. With the point after, the Bombers increased their lead to 23-0.

The Bombers defence continued to put pressure on Reilly as Brandon Alexander took down the Lions pivot and Willie Jefferson hauled in the interception, returning it to the house for the pick-six. With the point after, Winnipeg’s lead grew to 30-0.

Winnipeg continued their dominance on the night, as Lawler scored his second touchdown of the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter, capping off a five-play, 79-yard drive. Ali Mourtada was good on his convert and the Blue Bombers increased their lead to 37-0.

As the clock was winding down and there were under three minutes left in the contest, special teams got in on the scoring as Grant returned a punt 63 yards to the house. That score, along with the point after, increased Winnipeg’s lead to 44-0.

On the final play of the game, the Bombers added a single and the final score was 45-0.

Next up is a bye for the Blue Bombers while the Lions travel to Toronto to take on the Argonauts on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

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