Blue Bombers sweep season series over Calgary

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers returned to Week 12 of league action with a vengeance as they battled through adversity to claim a 31-29 comeback victory over the Calgary Stampeders on Thursday evening.

The last time the Bombers took the field, they were dealt their first loss of the season. Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros looked determined to make sure the loss did not become a trend as he completed 19 of his 26 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Calgary.

In the Winnipeg passing attack it was veteran receiver Nic Demski who led the team with eight receptions on nine targets for 117 yards and a touchdown in the game. Greg McCrae had an equally impressive performance reeling in five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in the Bombers’ win.

Backup quarterback Dakota Prukop also played a pivotal role in his team’s win over the West Divsion rivals, Prukop added a passing touchdown, before giving his team a lead late in the fourth quarter with a rushing touchdown.

» Box Score: Stamps, Bombers by the numbers
» Watch: Beautiful catch by McCrae for first CFL touchdown

Starting the game with their offence on the field, Collaros needed just five plays to find points with the game’s opening drive. On a second and long from the Calgary 41-yard line, Collaros threw a beautifully arcing pass that found it’s way into the hands of McCrae for the rookie’s first CFL touchdown.

Calgary’s Jake Maier took the field for his much-anticipated season debut as the starting quarterback and did not disappoint. With their first offensive drive of the game Maier completed three consecutive passes for 89 yards as he engineered a six-play drive for Calgary that was highlighted by a 61-yard touchdown pass to Malik Henry helping to even the score early in the first quarter.

The Bombers did not waiver after the quick score from the Stamps, instead they matched the intensity, and drummed up a response of their own. In methodical fashion, Collaros dissected the Calgary secondary with a scoring drive that took less than three minutes of game time. Capping of the drive with his second touchdown pass of the night as he found Demski in the end zone with a 15-yard pass.

Winnipeg would assume a 14-8 lead to end the first quarter, and both quarterbacks would surpass 100 passing yards in the opening frame.

The Bombers were in the midst of constructing another drive that looked like it had strong potential to result in points. Taking the snap from the Calgary 17-yard line, Collaros dropped back to pass, but was met with heavy pressure from the Stampeders front-seven as they forced what appeared to be an incompletion.

However, Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson challenged the ruling of an incompletion as a fumble, believing defensive lineman Mike Rose jarred the ball loose as he brought down Collaros for a sack. On the replay the officials overturned the call and ruled in favor of a fumble, but the ball was declared dead before Calgary could recover, leaving the Bombers offence facing a second and 18.

Winnipeg wouldn’t be able to convert the second and long, as they were forced to settle for a field goal on the drive. Kicker Marc Liegghio was called upon as he split the upright on the 32-yard field goal attempt to extend his team’s lead to nine points.

With their first drive of the second quarter, Maier once again had the Stamps driving downfield as he completed three consecutive passes to put his team inside of the Winnipeg 30-yard line.

The Bombers defence quickly reminded the young Stamps pivot why they are one of the most revered in the league, forcing Maier to throw an incompletion that resulted in an intentional grounding penalty, before Jackson Jeffcoat held running back Ka’Deem Carey to no gain on second down, stalling the Calgary drive.

The Stamps would still earn points as kicker Rene Paredes was relied upon to attempt a long-range field goal. The consistency of Paredes was on full display as he sent  a 47-yard field goal through the up rights, cutting the Bomber lead to six.

With time winding down on the first half of play, Calgary found themselves with another opportunity to score. Maier completed five consecutive passes before a 19-yard run from Peyton Logan put the Stamps within striking distance.

On the ninth play of the drive, Maier found Henry in the end zone for their second touchdown connection of the game, as Calgary regained a narrow 18-17 point lead late in the second quarter.

Winnipeg looked determined to take back the lead with just over a minute remaining in the game, three strong runs from Brady Oliveira and two quick completions had the Bombers in field goal range with tens seconds remaining in the half.

Collaros and the offence stayed on the field, and the pivot fired a pass towards the end zone looking for a score, but the route was read perfectly by Calgary defensive back Brad Muhammad as he stepped in front of the ass for the interception and ended the first half of play.

Much like he did to open the game’s first quarter, it was McCrae making big plays once again to open the second half of action in the game. McCrae caught a 25 yard pass from Collaros, before breaking away from the Calgary defence for a 12-yard rush.


Following a converted second down quarterback sneak play, Dakota Prukop remained under centre on a first down and goal from the Calgary 10-yard line. Prukop dropped back and found Rasheed Bailey in the end zone for the touchdown, helping his team regain the lead early in the third quarter.

Midway through the third quarter, the Bombers defence looked as if they would stall another Stampeders drive after Donald Rutledge Jr. found Logan in the backfield for a loss of three, bringing up a long second down. Maier went back to Logan immediately as the Calgary back broke free on a 23-yard catch and run.

The play from Logan helped to set up Henry for his third touchdown reception of the night, as Maier hit the second-year receiver with a seven-yard quick out to help his team take a 25-24 lead nearing the end of the third.

Following the Calgary score, Demski took it upon himself to attempt to ignite a Winnipeg scoring drive. The veteran pass-catcher reeled in a 17-yard reception, before tearing away on a 27-yard end around play.

Two-plays later the Bombers were again in striking distance and looked as if they might regain the lead as Collaros fired a pass up into the back corner of the end zone looking for McCrae in the end zone, McCrae lost his footing for a split second, which gave Calgary’s Muhammad enough time to undercut the throw for his second interception of the night.

The Stampeders earned the first points of the final quarter after the interception from their defence. Paredes delivered his second made field goal of the night as he converted on a 31 yard attempt to put give Calgary a 28-24 lead.

Collaros fought through the adversity of the interception with the Bombers’ first drive of the final quarter, completing four passes for 61 yards to put his team on the Calgary three-yard line.

The Bombers would regain their lead as Prukop was able to contribute near the goal line once again, this time as he surged forward on a quarterback sneak to score his third rushing touchdown of the season, giving Winnipeg a three-point lead.

With under three minutes remaining in the game the Bombers defence got the crucial stop they needed as they held Carey short of the first down on a second-down attempt.

Without any hesitation the Stampeders offence remained on the field to try for the third-down conversion, it appeared as if Carey has enough for the first down. However, a holding-penalty against Calgary negated the yardage and forced them to punt the ball away.

The Stamps defence forced Winnipeg’s offence into a second and long with a chance to force a punt with just over a minute left in the game. But Collaros fired a strike to Demski which would be enough for a first down, and taking more time off the clock.

With seconds left in the game, Augustine delivered the dagger on a 14-yard first down rush that allowed the Bombers to wind the clock down and sweep the season series against the Stampeders.

Looking ahead to next week, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will square off against the rival Saskatchewan Roughriders, while the Calgary Stampeders will be matchup with the Edmonton Elks in the battle of Alberta.

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