CFL: Winnipeg Blue Bombers power past Toronto Argonauts

TORONTO – Matt Nichols passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 38-20 win over Toronto on Saturday afternoon. Nichols and his supporting cast of rushers and receivers thrived all afternoon, never letting off the gas pedal in an impressive display at BMO Field.

Running back Andrew Harris was another key contributor on the Blue Bombers, rushing for 156 yards while adding two touchdowns, one through the air and another on the ground, to bring Winnipeg back to .500 on the season and dropping the Argos to 1-4.

Winnipeg imposed their will from the opening kickoff. The Argos defence forced a two-and-out on Nichols’ offence on the first drive of the game, but the ensuing Justin Medlock punt was fumbled by Toronto’s Martese Jackson on the Argos’ 35-yard-line.

Nichols pounced on the opportunity and lobbed a 21-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Darvin Adams to put Winnipeg up 7-0 before James Franklin stepped on the field. Adams’ third touchdown catch of the season gave him a share of the CFL lead.

Winnipeg QB Matt Nichols Photo: Adam Gagnon/CFL.ca

Following a punt by the Argos, Nichols was once again able to take the Bombers’ offence down the field with the help of Harris, the CFL rushing leader. The pair took Winnipeg on a nine-play, 67-yard drive capped off by Harris’ league-leading fifth rushing touchdown of the season.

Toronto’s first big play of the day came on a 23-yard catch by Rodney Smith, which was quickly followed by 15 and 12-yard gains respectively by Armanti Edwards. Toronto could not capitalize on the momentum, however, as Ronnie Pfeffer missed a 27-yard field goal attempt to keep Winnipeg 14 points ahead.

The Bombers kept rolling in the second quarter. Nichols completed four straight passes for 51 yards, and threw his second score of the game to Harris to put Winnipeg ahead 22-1.

Taking over on their own 28, the Argos were able to drive the ball deep into Winnipeg territory with the help of three critical penalties taken by the Bombers defence.  Pfeffer once again missed a field goal, this time from 34-yards out, to keep Winnipeg in firm control.

Medlock, on the other hand, had no problem nailing a 44-yard field goal in the other direction to put Winnipeg on top 25-1. When all seemed loss for the Argos, the tides began to turn for the double blue in the final minute of the first half.

First, the Bombers’ Kevin Fogg coughed up the ball on a punt return, which was then scooped up by Llevi Noel and returned 49 yards to the end zone. Then, the Bombers fumbled again as time ticked down on the half, allowing Franklin to complete a quick 27-yard pass to James Wilder Jr. and Pfeffer to finally connect on a 31-yard field goal to narrow the deficit to 25-12 at halftime.

Winnipeg used the break to regroup and got exactly what they needed to start the second half. An early stop by the defence, followed by a 52-yard scoring drive capped off by a one-yard sneak from Nichols to go up 32-12. Another two-and-out by the Argos led to a Bombers field goal as the Argos fell behind by 23 in the third quarter.

Following another Argos turnover, Winnipeg again let Toronto back into the game. A Nic Demsky fumble was returned 87 yards to the house by Jermaine Gabriel to bring Toronto within two scores heading late in the third quarter.

The brief momentum spurt, however, was quashed by a Marcus Sayles interception on Franklin early in the forth quarter. Nichols led the Bombers on a 64-yard drive culminating with a Medlock field goal to bump Winnipeg’s lead to 38-20.

Franklin and the Argos moved the ball well at times, but repeatedly fell short in their execution in front of the 10,844 fans attending the matinee. Trailing by multiple scores throughout the afternoon, Toronto was only able to pick up 19 rushing yards. Adams, Demski and Weston Dressler, meanwhile, combined for 216 receiving yards for the Bombers.

The two teams have under a week to regroup for a Week 7 rematch at Investors Group Field next Friday evening.

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