It wasn’t a masterpiece again, but for the second straight week, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers did just enough to pick up a victory against the Ottawa Redblacks.
After struggling through much of the first half, Winnipeg took their first lead in the third quarter and hung on for a 19-12 win in Ottawa on Friday to improve to 2-0 on the season.
It was the Bombers fifth straight regular season victory in Ottawa since 2015.
The Bombers equalled their point total from a week ago, but were slightly more productive on the offensive side of the ball, picking up 343 total yards on a rainy and windy night in the nation’s capital.
Zach Collaros tossed for 228 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while the Bombers had a much better performance from the run game as Winnipeg picked up 115 yards on the ground.
“The guys stuck with it,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “I think sorta the first quarter and a half were a little tough, but we managed a drive at the end of the half.”
Winnipeg had only two first downs in the opening quarter but got some momentum from the touchdown drive late in the half.
“It was very important,” said O’Shea. “It was a tough quarter and a half to start. To get that going and have some success certainly gave confidence.”
Bombers defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat made his season debut after missing the opener with an ankle injury. He had two tackles and a key forced fumble in the victory.
The defence bent but didn’t break, allowing 425 yards, but holding Ottawa out of the end zone completely with just four field goals.
“Just as a defence, we just got to play better overall,” said Jeffcoat. “We don’t want to let anybody score on us. Even if a team scores one point on us, or one touchdown on us, or anything, field goal, or anything – we’re pretty upset about it. I mean, that’s our goal. We’re trying to shut everybody out every game.”
The Bombers also sacked Ottawa QB Jeremiah Masoli three times, and forced two turnovers on downs.
It was a quiet opening quarter with the lone points coming off the foot of Ottawa kicker Lewis Ward as his 27-yard field goal put the Redblacks up 3-0 through 15 minutes.
After a Marc Liegghio punt single for Winnipeg early in the second quarter, Ottawa was able to get a big 48-yard reception from former Bomber Darvin Adams to put them in scoring position.
But a sack by Winnipeg’s L.B. Mack III halted the Ottawa drive and forced them into another Ward field goal, this time from 37 yards out.
After another Ward three-pointer with less than two minutes to go in the half, the Bombers offence finally got going as Collaros found Greg Ellingson for a 13-yard touchdown. The Bombers would fail on the two-point conversion attempt and would trail 9-7 heading into the half.
The Bombers opening drive of the third quarter was a good one, boosted by the run game, and led to a 30-yard Liegghio field goal to put Winnipeg in the lead for the first time.
The two kickers exchanged field goals later in the quarter and the Bombers held a 13-12 lead heading into the final frame.
The Redblacks again drove the ball deep inside the Winnipeg 20 yard line, but could not convert on a short third down as Masoli fumbled the football to give the ball back to the Bombers.
Winnipeg went down the field and Collaros found Dalton Schoen for a 27-yard major for his first career CFL touchdown, but a missed Liegghio convert kept the lead at seven points.
Ottawa was able to drive the ball deep again on the next drive, but the Bombers shut the door when they needed to, getting their second turnover on downs of the quarter to secure the victory.
Bombers running backs Brady Oliveira and Johnny Augustine each eclipsed the 40-yard mark on the ground while Ellingson led the Bombers in receiving with 71 yards on four catches.
Mack, Kyrie Wilson, and Casey Sayles all recorded sacks for Winnipeg.
On the injury front, Winnipeg’s starting centre Michael Couture left the game in the first half and did not return. Chris Kolankowski handled the snapping duties in the second half.
Offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick appeared in his 100th career CFL game.
The Bombers are back in action Friday, June 24 at home when they take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a rematch of the last two Grey Cups.
The pregame show will begin on 680 CJOB at 5:30 p.m. with kickoff just after 7:30 p.m.
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