Winnipeg Blue Bombers top Ottawa REDBLACKS in overtime thriller

OTTAWA – It was a certain victory, until it wasn’t.

Despite holding a 15-point lead with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Blue Bombers saw a victory which seemed so sure nearly slip through their hands after Trevor Harris and the REDBLACKS staged a remarkable comeback, tying the game in regulation and forcing OT.

But it was the Bombers who emerged victorious, as QB Matt Nichols and his offence converted the touchdown and two-point conversion in overtime while the defence did the rest, as LB Adam Bighill forced a fumble to seal the victory for Winnipeg.

Nichols finished the game with 265 yards passing and three touchdowns, while RB Andrew Harris racked up 163 all-purpose yards, including 132 rushing.

The Bombers were desperate to reverse their fortunes from the last time the two teams met, suffering a lopsided victory at the hands of the REDBLACKS back in week 10.

After an opening drive field goal by Justin Medlock opened the scoring for the Blue Bombers, the REDBLACKS took over, and RB William Powell showed why he is the leafs leading rusher through 16 weeks. After a quick toss by QB Trevor Harris to WR Greg Ellingson, Powell found a gaping hole in the Bomber defence, sprinting down the left sideline for a 48-yard gain. Two plays later, Harris found Powell on a wheel route and

Matt Nichols picked up right where he left off on the Bombers second drive, completing six of seven passes on an efficient drive, picking his way through the REDBLACKS defence with completions to four different receivers. After an Andrew Harris rush put the Bombers at the 11, Nichols capped the drive by finding Darvin Adams for the touchdown, pushing the Bombers back into the lead.

The two teams traded field goals on their next two drives as offences ruled in a first half which saw five lead changes.

After a would-be first down for the REDBLACKS was cancelled out by an offensive penalty, DE Tristan Okpalaugo made one of the first big defensive plays of the game, bringing down Harris in the backfield for a sack and forcing the first punt of the game midway through the second quarter.

Defences tightened up as the half drew to a close after a wide-open first quarter, and Medlock kicked home his fourth field goal of the half as time expired to give the Blue Bombers a 19-11 lead.

Starting at their own 46-yard line, the Bombers made their way all the way down to the REDBLACKS five yard line, thanks in large part to a big 19-yard scamper by RB Andrew Harris. But they couldn’t find the dagger for their second major of the evening, and settled for yet another Medlock field goal – his fifth of the night – and extended Winnipeg’s lead to 11 points.

Despite Medlock’s dominance in this one, his counterpart on the REDBLACKS found a way to outshine him. Rookie kicker Lewis Ward responded with another field goal of his own, in the process tying the all-time record of 39 consecutive field goals.

Harris continued to put his mark on the game for the Bombers, ripping off a 23-yard gain on the first play of the ensuing Winnipeg drive. But teammate Nic Demski didn’t fare nearly as well on the following play, as he lost a hold of the football and the REDBLACKS recovered in prime field position.

Ottawa’s offence failed to convert a first down on their ensuing possession, and rather than going for it on third and short, the REDBLACKS turned to their trusty kicker to help chip away at the Blue Bombers lead. With a 39-yard field goal, rookie Lewis Black set a new CFL record with his 40th consecutive field goal, surpassing the record previously set by Rene Paredes.

The fourth quarter brought a breakthrough for the Blue Bombers, as Matt Nichols tossed his second touchdown pass of the game, this time finding SB Weston Dressler. The short drive was aided in part by a couple of roughness penalties by the REDBLACKS defence, a thorn in Ottawa’s side for much of the evening.

Another Medlock field goal extended the Bomber lead to 15, but the REDBLACKS weren’t giving up just yet.

Harris came out firing, first finding Brad Sinopoli for a 19 yard gain, and then putting a perfect pass into the hands of Julian Feoli-Gudino for another big first down. Harris would find his latter target once more two plays later wide open down the right sideline, as Feoli-Gudino scored his first touchdown as a member of the REDBLACKS.

Ward’s convert brought Ottawa to within eight points of the Bombers with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

After a big stop by the REDBLACKS defence, Harris and the offence got the ball back with just under two minutes to go, and a long field to drive in order to tie the game up.

Facing third-and-three with the game on the line, SB Greg Ellingson brought down a remarkable catch to convert the first down and keep Ottawa’s chances alive. After being invisible in the first half, Feoli-Gudino continued to be a gamebreaker late in this one, making several key catches on the drive.

But it was Ellingson who shone brightest late in the game, bringing down a pass from Harris to move inside the 10-yard line, and capping the drive with a crucial touchdown catch just inside the end zone. Not content to finish his night there, Ellingson also brought in the two-point conversion, tying the game at 32 and forcing overtime.

After losing the coin-toss, The Bombers would get possession first, and Nichols and the offence did their job. Nichols first found Dressler for his second touchdown of the night before completing the two-point convert to Darvin Adams.

The REDBLACKS nearly got it done on their drive following the score, but Adam Bighill forced a Brad Sinopoli fumble to end the game.

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