Blue Bombers get last-second win over Calgary Stampeders

Zach Collaros threw two touchdown passes and Justin Medlock kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to give the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a 29-28 comeback win over the Calgary Stampeders on Friday night. Collaros threw for 221 yards while completing 22 of 28 passes in his first start with the Bombers, and Winnipeg is now 11-7 after taking the season series against Calgary.

Calgary took an early lead on a long opening drive that ended with Bo Levi Mitchell throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Hergy Mayala. The Bombers cut into the lead early in the second quarter with a field goal from Medlock, and they pulled ahead with under two minutes to go in the opening half on a short touchdown run from Nic Demski.

But the Stamps offence came storming back to retake the lead before half-time, as Mitchell completed six straight passes before putting Calgary on top with a touchdown pass to Eric Rogers. Winnipeg regained the lead early in the third quarter when Collaros threw his first touchdown pass as a Bomber, connecting with Kenny Lawler for a 25-yard score.

Calgary regained the lead once again later in the third quarter on Mitchell’s second touchdown connection to Rogers. But the ensuing extra point attempt went wide and was returned 122 yards by Janarion Grant for two points, leaving the Stamps with a narrow 20-19 lead. Calgary extended the lead to nine points with Mayala’s second touchdown and a two-point conversion catch from Richie Sindani.

Collaros connected with Darvin Adams on a highlight-reel touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it a two-point game with under eight minutes remaining, and he led the Bombers to a 34-yard field goal on the final drive to claim the victory.

Andrew Harris gained 64 rushing yards on 15 carries, surpassing Canadian Football Hall of Famer Norman Kwong to claim the CFL record for most rushing yards by a Canadian.

Mitchell went over 300 passing yards for the 34th time in his career.

Winnipeg WR Kenny Lawler caught 5 passes for 59 yds and 1 TD Photo: The Canadian Press

The Stamps asserted their will on the opening drive of the game with a 12-play, 81-yard scoring march that saw Mitchell complete six of seven passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell converted three second downs with accurate completions to extend the drive, and he capped it off by scrambling outside the pocket to find Mayala for a 22-yard touchdown. Rene Paredes kicked the extra point to make it a seven-point lead.

Collaros connected on his first big passing play as a Bomber towards the end of the opening quarter when he threw a 36-yard strike down the field to receiver Rasheed Bailey. But the Stamps quickly tightened things up on defence as the second quarter began, and a big sack from defensive Chris Casher four plays later on second down forced Winnipeg to settle for a 29-yard field goal from Medlock.

The Stamps added a single point on a 47-yard punt from Rob Maver that went out of bounds in the end zone. Momentum remained on Calgary’s side later in the second quarter when linebacker Nate Holley intercepted Collaros over the middle. Holley read Collaros the entire way before picking off the pass. But the drive stalled after Winnipeg came up with a defensive stop, and the ensuing 46-yard field goal attempt from Paredes went wide to the left.

Grant returned the missed field goal 61 yards up the right sideline before a touchdown-saving tackle from Mike Rose brought him down. Winnipeg kept the momentum going as the drive continued. A pass from Sean McGuire to Mike Miller moved the chains on second down, and an eight-yard run from Harris set up a three-yard touchdown run from Demski. Medlock kicked the convert to give the Bombers a 10-8 lead with a minute and a half to go in the quarter.

Winnipeg’s lead was short-lived, as Mitchell marched the Stamps’ offence down the field in a hurry with seven consecutive completions. Mitchell finished the drive off with a two-yard touchdown pass to Rogers, but the Stamps went into half-time with just a four-point lead after the two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.

Collaros put the Bombers back on top early in the third quarter with a 25-yard touchdown pass to leading receiver Lawler. Lawler exploited a hole in the Calgary secondary before receiving an accurate strike from Collaros for the score, and Medlock added the extra point to give the Bombers a 17-14 lead.

The Stamps turned the tables once again and retook the lead later in the third when Mitchell found Rogers for their second touchdown connection of the game. The 10-yard score capped off a 72-yard drive, but Paredes’ extra point attempt went wide and ended up in the waiting hands of Grant. The Bombers return specialist turned on the jets and took the ball all the way to the Stamps’ end zone for a 122-yard defensive two-point convert, leaving Calgary with a narrow one-point lead.

Mitchell threw an 11-yard touchdown strike to Mayala as time expired in the third quarter to extend Calgary’s lead, and he added a two point conversion on a completion to Sindani to put the Stamps up 28-19.

But Collaros brought the Bombers closer by engineering an 11-play, 73-yard drive that he finished off with an amazing eight-yard touchdown pass to Adams. Collaros extended the play with his legs and scrambled to the right to avoid pressure before throwing a deep ball on the run to Adams just inside the sideline. Medlock kicked the extra point to make it a two-point game with under eight minutes to play.

Collaros led the Bombers to victory by guiding the offence down the field in the final two minutes to set up a game-winning 34-yard field goal from Medlock as time ran out.

The final week of the regular season will see the Calgary Stampeders travel on the road to face the BC Lions next Saturday at 10:00 p.m. EDT., while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are off until their first playoff matchup.

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