Blue Bombers wrap up regular season with win over Calgary Stampeders

CALGARY — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers finished the regular season on a high note by beating the Calgary Stampeders 36-13 on Friday night at McMahon Stadium.

Bombers and Stamps traded field goals in the first half before Winnipeg broke out in the second with a couple of touchdowns from quarterback Dru Brown to Rasheed Bailey and Brendan O’Leary-Orange to capture their 14th win of the season.

Running back Brady Oliveira rushed seven times for 32 yards to go over 1,500 rushing and 2,000 total yards on the season, joining Jon Cornish as the only two National players to hit both milestones.

Backup pivot Dakota Prukop added a rushing major in the fourth quarter and kicker Sergio Castillo made all five of his field goal attempts in the win for the Blue Bombers.

Stamps’ quarterback Jake Maier threw a touchdown pass to rookie receiver Cole Tucker in the third quarter of the losing effort for Calgary and linebacker Micah Awe finished with 13 tackles to reach 134 on the season and break the Stampeders record set by Alex Singleton.

Both teams now prepare to play in the post-season with the Stamps heading to Vancouver to face the BC Lions next week in the Western Semi-Final, while the Bombers wait to host whoever emerges of the two in the Western Final.

Oliveira got eight yards on his first play of the game to reach 1,500 rushing yards on the season and the Bombers marched into Castillo’s range for the first three points of the game.

A little later in the quarter the running back got over 2,000 yards from scrimmage with another short run over the middle. The play kickstarted another scoring campaign that ended on a field goal by Castillo for a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Linebacker Brian Cole forced a fumble on Peyton Logan on the first play of the next drive to give Winnipeg’s offence favourable field position. The unit parlayed it into their third kick of the night, this time from 30-yards out. Castillo remained perfect to extend the lead to 9-0 early in the second quarter.

Maier and the Stamps responded with a 42-yard pass to Tucker to move into Bombers’ territory. The offence also converted a third down with Stevens to keep the drive alive but a misconduct penalty by Joshua Coker pushed Calgary back 15 yards. That led to a field goal attempt by Rene Paredes but the veteran kicker missed to the left and Janarion Grant brought it out of the end zone to keep the score intact.

Calgary’s defence forced Winnipeg to punt from deep into their own territory to give the offence another chance to score points. Running back Dedrick Mills added 15 yards with a scamper to the right but two straight incompletions from Maier gave Paredes another chance to add points to the board. This time the veteran split the uprights to make it 9-3 with 6:35 left in the half.

Castillo booted his fourth field goal with 58 seconds to go on the second quarter as the Bombers went into halftime leading 12-3.

The second half began with three more points by Paredes to cut the lead to 12-6. The defence then forced a fumble on pivot Dakota Prukop to put his offence back onto the field with a chance to take the lead and that’s exactly what they did. Maier completed three of four passes, the last one a 21 yarder to Tucker who broke a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone and a 13-12 lead with the point after.

Winnipeg responded quickly with a pass from Brown to Bailey who did most of the work after the catch for a total of 68 yards and the major. The extra point by Castillo made it 19-13 late in the third quarter.

The Bombers struck fast again on their next possession when Brown delivered a strike to O’Leary-Orange off the play-action for a 31-yard major to extend the lead to 26-13 with 13:55 left in regulation.

Castillo added to the lead once more with a 40-yarder as the clock showed 9:47 to go.

The Blue and Gold score again later in the final quarter with an 85-yard drive led by Brown and running back Johnny Augustine. The running back rushed five straight times for 28 yards before the pivot moved the chains twice with a 17-yarder to Drew Wolitarsky and a 22-yarder to Kenny Lawler to move into the red one. Prukop finished the job with a quarterback sneak for the final score of the game.

The Stampeders now get ready to face the BC Lions in Vancouver in the Western Semi-Final on Saturday, November 4. The Blue Bombers meanwhile wait for the winner of that game to travel to Winnipeg for the Western Final on November 11.

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