OTTAWA – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers rallied late to stun the Ottawa REDBLACKS with a buzzer-beating field goal as Justin Medlock’s kick secured the 33-30 victory for the visitors.
For the second week in a row, the Bombers found magic in the final minutes of the game to come out on top.
Down by seven points with just over five minutes remaining, Ryan Lankford used his speed to get the Bombers into solid field position on the kickoff as they chipped away on yardage. Andrew Harris found a rushing lane for another first down before Avery Ellis halted Nichols with a sack just before the three-minute warning. Winnipeg added a field goal to trail 30-26 with 2:43 remaining. A single on the kickoff cut the deficit to three points.
Keeping the REDBLACKS from adding to their lead, Matt Nichols and the Bombers got another chance with under two minutes remaining. Brett Maher’s punt sailed out of bounds as the Winnipeg offence entered at midfield. Darvin Adams hauled in a 13-yard pass to enter field goal range and Medlock converted to tie the contest with less than a minute left.
Again, the Bombers defence did not allow the REDBLACKS to make much progress and forced another punt for one final drive. Short yardage plays moved the ball into field goal range and Medlock came through in the clutch, nailing his sixth kick of the game, this one at the buzzer, to get the win.
The loss drops the REDBLACKS to 1-5-1 while the Bombers improve to 4-2 on the season.
Nichols threw for 319 yards and a major on the night while Trevor Harris countered with 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
It was a back and forth game from the first whistle as both clubs kept it close throughout.
The REDBLACKS offence started out in full force from the opening kickoff. A scrambling Harris kept the drive alive and used his full arsenal of wideouts to slice his way downfield. Seven different receivers caught passes on the team’s first possession, punctuated by a Josh Stangby touchdown. William Powell punched in the two-point convert as Ottawa jumped out to an early 8-0 lead.
Winnipeg took just one play to respond. Huddling on the sideline before setting up on offence, Nichols immediately found Lankford deep downfield and the speedy receiver did the rest, running for a 78-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 8-6. Harris was denied on the two-point convert attempt but the Bombers added a single on the ensuing kickoff.
Not looking to let the Bombers gain any more momentum, the REDBLACKS offence went back to work. Harris continued to find success through the air, marching the team into scoring territory. Maher booted a 37-yard field goal to increase the REDBLACKS lead to 11-7.
Making his season debut, Timothy Flanders rushed for a first down on his first attempt of the year. Just as Winnipeg was crossing midfield they were locked down by a REDBLACKS defence denying the big play and Medlock notched a 52-yard field goal to close out the opening frame.
Pinned deep in their own zone midway through the second quarter, the REDBLACKS started to work on the ground game but Powell fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Chris Randle, who took it 25 yards back to the house to give Winnipeg it’s first lead of the game, 17-11.
A strong kick return and a pass interference call moved the Bombers past midfield as they tried to add to their lead. Medlock missed a 45-yard field goal attempt wide left and it was returned 50 yards by Quincy McDuffie against his former team. That led to a single for the REDBLACKS to cut the deficit to 17-12.
The opening of the third quarter started with as much fireworks as the beginning of the game. Powell powered through for a 52-yard run in the opening minute of the second half for another Ottawa touchdown. Brad Sinopoli added a two-point convert as the REDBLACKS regained the lead, 20-17.
Back-to-back rushes by Brendan Gillanders kept the chains moving for Ottawa who added another three points on a Maher field goal to go up 23-17.
The Bombers responded on the next drive, continuing the back and forth flow of the game. A Khalil Bass sack on Nichols ended the threat of a touchdown so Medlock kicked another field goal, this one from 36 yards away as Winnipeg still trailed 23-20 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Winnipeg defence then went to work, holding the line on Harris and the REDBLACKS offence on consecutive downs to force a turnover at midfield. Two penalties held the Bombers from crossing the goal line, settling for another field goal to tie the game 23-23.
Undeterred by the score, Harris went back to the passing attack to get more points on the board. A 20-yard grab by Sinopoli pushed the REDBLACKS near the red zone before Greg Ellingson scored a leaping touchdown with 5:39 remaining to put Ottawa ahead 30-23 as the rain started to fall at TD Place. That was the start of a frantic final few minutes in the contest.
Next week, the REDBLACKS defend home turf against the Edmonton Eskimos while the Bombers visit Tim Hortons Field and take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.