CFL: Winnipeg Blue Bombers win 4th straight, snap Edmonton Eskimos unbeaten streak

CFL.CA STAFF
WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won their fourth game in a row while snapping the Edmonton Eskimos’ seven-game streak in a 33-26 victory in which they never trailed.

The crucial West Division matchup went the way of the Bombers, who held off the Esks fourth quarter comeback attempt.

Andrew Harris did it all for the Bombers, earning 120 receiving yards combined with 105 rushing yards. Matt Nichols added 390 yards through the air, a rushing touchdown and a touchdown pass.

Reilly had 356 passing yards on the night with two touchdown tosses as well.

What started as a defensive battle between the two clubs opened up offensively in the second quarter.

Winnipeg Blue Bomber RB Andrew Harris avoiding tackler Photo: Jason Halstead CFL.ca

Aided by a strong kick return by Ryan Lankford to start the game, a reception by Clarence Denmark and rushes by Harris kept the positive start going. Nichols earned a first down on his feet to get the Bombers inside the red zone. Medlock booted a field goal to open the scoring.

The teams traded defensive stops throughout the rest of the first quarter with neither team able to create much momentum.

Edmonton crossed midfield to open the second quarter via a 14-yard catch by Vidal Hazelton. Hugh O’Neill’s field goal attempt went wide left, leaving the Esks trailing. Lankford’s return was erased by a penalty, and the Bombers had to start again from near their own goal line. Nichols found TJ Thorpe over the middle for a big gain before Harris carried Winnipeg into scoring territory. Pushing forward for extra yards, the Esks stripped Harris of the ball and recovered the fumble to end the threat.

The defence by the Bombers held strong again as Nichols went back to work under centre midway through the frame. Harris and Tim Flanders broke tackles to power the ball through and Thorpe’s short reception put Winnipeg just outside of the end zone. Dan LeFevour did the rest as the lead grew to 10-0.

Bryant Mitchell’s 25-yard gain boosted the Esks offence as they looked to respond with some points on the board. In double coverage and on second-and-25, Duke Williams caught the deep ball to keep the drive rolling. O’Neill capped it off with a 31-yard field goal as Edmonton cut the deficit to 10-3.

Looking to add more points before the halftime whistle, Reilly was instead intercepted by Chris Ran+dle with 37 seconds remaining in the quarter. Now in field goal range, the Bombers used the clock and Nichols found Darvin Adams for another Winnipeg major.

LaDarius Perkins got the third quarter off to a rumble for Edmonton with a pair of rushes before Reilly found Kenny Stafford with a 40-yard touchdown strike as the Esks still trailed 17-10.

The Bombers didn’t take long to answer, finding paydirt on their next drive. Again, Harris kept his team’s offence moving while his rushing partner Flanders added a quick gain of his own. Stopped just short of the goal line, Nichols snuck in his second touchdown of the season to put the Bombers up by a pair.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB Matt Nichols was superb Photo: Jason Halstead CFL.ca

Not to be outgunned, Reilly and the Esks chipped their way downfield. Going back to the long ball, Williams found the end zone on a 33-yard catch to cut the score to 24-17.

A 35-yard gain by Adams opened up the next Winnipeg drive and Harris added a 26-yard run of his own to pass Ron Stewart for fourth all-time on the Canadian rushers list. The Bombers lead would grow again after another Medlock field goal.

The final play of the third quarter brought Winnipeg past midfield on another Harris reception, this one for 35 yards. Euclid Cummings sacked Nichols and Medlock missed a 51-yard field goal attempt as the Esks limited any more damage.

An illegal block call on the Esks during a Bombers punt kept the ball in Nichols’ hands and it costed Edmonton. Medlock kicked another field goal, this a chip shot from 15 yards out, as the lead grew to 30-17.

Cory Watson did not let the Esks fall behind any further, breaking open for a 71-yard pass on the sideline. Taken down just outside of the end zone, Reilly lunged in for a touchdown. O’Neill missed the extra point to keep Edmonton down 30-23 with 5:42 remaining.

Another penalty against the Esks kept the drive alive for the Bombers, who looked to put the clinching touches on the victory. Using up the clock, the Bombers kept the offence to the ground game before Medlock booted a 33-yard field goal to go up 33-23.

With 1:22 remaining in the comeback attempt, Reilly found Mitchell and Williams to push the Esks to the red zone. A 16-yard field goal attempt by O’Neill was good with 16 seconds left but that’s as close as Edmonton would get.

Next week, the Bombers visit the Montreal Alouettes while the Esks host the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

 

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