CFL:Winnipeg Blue Bombers hold off Hamilton Tiger-Cats comeback to secure victory

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers held off a comeback attempt from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to secure a 29-23 victory, the team’s third straight.

A pair of late penalties doomed the Ticats attempted rally as they ran out of time to put any more points on the board. Jeremiah Masoli threw for 251 yards and a touchdown and added 80 yards on the ground but it was not enough for the Ticats. Matt Nichols countered with 180 passing yards and two touchdowns while Andrew Harris led the Bombers in both rushing and receiving yards.

The Ticats opened the scoring early in the game but the Bombers would prove to be a step ahead throughout the night.

Hamilton’s opening drive began with Masoli hitting Jalen Saunders for a first down at midfield. Brandon Banks hauled in a 37-yard sideline pass to put the Ticats in the red zone. The Bombers defence stopped the Ticats just outside the endzone forcing and third and goal on the one-yard line but Alex Green punched in for the quick touchdown and the early 7-0 lead.

Winnipeg WR Weston Dressler hauling in TD pass Photo: John Woods The Canadian Press

Nic Demski wasted no time to respond with a 56-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. The league’s leading rusher Harris added a 30-yard run and Nichols found Weston Dressler in the back of the endzone to tie the game.

The Winnipeg defence forced a fumble on the next Ticats possession, giving the ball back to Nichols in great field position. A facemask penalty moved the Bombers into the red zone and an offside call put them just outside the goal line. Harris notched a rushing touchdown on the next play, adding to the Bombers first quarter lead.

Now trailing, the Ticats defence recovered a Harris fumble to close out the first quarter but back to back sacks on Masoli halted any momentum.

A pair of penalties against the Ticats moved the chains for the Bombers offence and they added a 23-yard field goal to go up 17-7.

Chris Williams’ 22-yard grab put the Ticats on the right side of the field but the drive would end after Masoli fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Craig Roh. Winnipeg could not add any more points after the turnover. Pinned in their own end on the next possession, Hamilton gave up two points on a safety.

Neither team could move the football, trading possessions as the defences held strong. Justin Medlock missed a 54-yard field goal attempt with under a minute left in the first half.

Taking matters into his own hands, Masoli took off for a 36-yard gain that led to a Ticats field goal to cut the deficit to 19-10.

Nichols went back to work quickly completing first down passes to Darvin Adams, Daniel Petermann and Harris. That led to Demski hauling in a 37-yard touchdown grab and putting the Bombers up 26-10.

Needing to get some more points on the board midway through the third quarter, Masoli connected with Banks on a 24-yard gain. He followed that up with passes to Terrence Toliver and Luke Tasker which led to a Banks touchdown right on the goal line as the Ticats looked to keep the momentum rolling. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful and the Ticats were down 10 points.

Starting at midfield on their next drive, the Ticats offence kept marching downfield. Once again Banks came through with a 18-yard grab. Masoli went to his feet again for a 23-yard rush and Green knocked in his second major of the game to cut the lead to just 26-23.

The Bombers used a lot of the clock as they slowly made their way downfield. Chris Streveler pushed through in short yardage for a pair of a fresh set of downs before Petermann moved the chains even further. Medlock booted another field goal with 1:22 remaining to put the Bombers up 29-23 which proved to be enough for the win.

Next week the Bombers host the Ottawa REDBLACKS while the Ticats hit the bye week.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.