Robert Marve passed for a touchdown and ran for another as the Bombers opened the pre-season with a 34-27 win over the Toronto Argonauts at Varsity Stadium.
Drew Willy got the call for the Blue Bombers, looking to make the most of the few reps he was going to see as the cemented starter for Week 1. Willy quickly shook off the rust on his first pass of the game when he stood tall in the pocket, absorbed a hit and delivered a strike to Ja-mes Logan for a gain of 30 yards. The drive was quickly stalled two plays later however when running back Paris Cotton put the ball on the turf giving the Argos the ball.
The Boatmen couldn’t capitalize on that possession but hit the mark two drives later.
Trevor Harris, who was making the start for Toronto, led an impressive march, connecting with receivers Kevin Elliott and Vidal Hazelton for big gains before handing off to tailback Curtis Steele for a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Argos a 6-0 first quarter lead. Toronto missed the 32-yard convert.
His counterpart, Willy only lasted two drives before hitting the pine and finished 3-for-3 for 29 yards.Harris is all but penciled in as Toronto’s opening day starter with Ricky Ray on the mend from off-season shoulder surgery so reps were valuable to say the least.
Brian Brohm entered the game with just under three minutes remaining in the opening frame and quickly went to work with great field position after Steele turned the ball over on a fumble. The Bombers salvaged a 20-yard field goal off the foot of Anthony Santella.
Brohm was also done after two drives, finishing 6 of 8 for 52 yards, as Robert Marve finished up the first half for the Bombers.
Harris’ work was done after the first quarter and the Bombers didn’t make QB Logan Kilgore feel very comfortable, picking off his first pass which led to another field goal to tie the game at 6.
Kilgore was intercepted once again two possessions later and this time, the Bombers made him pay. Working with a short field, Marve leaned on tailback Carlos Anderson to help march the Bombers into the redzone and then got the ball into the hands of Lavasier Tuinei who broke a tackle at the one and fell into the endzone.
That, along with a rouge off a missed field goal on the next play sent the Bombers to the locker room with a 13-6 halftime lead.
Marve continued to move the ball well in between the 20s as the third quarter got underway and with 7:08 left, opened up a 13-point lead when he escaped a collapsing pocket, pulled the ball down and raced down the teeth of the Toronto defence for a 21-yard touchdown.
Mitchell Gale entered the game for the Argonauts under centre and after a pair of stalled drives, helped put the Boatmen back on the board. First, he aired the ball out for receiver Tori Gurley on a go route and the South Carolina product stretched out to bring in the 46-yard reception.
A pass interference call in the endzone put the ball at the 1-yard line and Gale punched it in from there to cut the Bombers lead to 20-14 with 5:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Northern Iowa grad Carlos Anderson sparked the Blue Bombers with a 93-yard punt return touchdown Tuesday in a 34-27 pre-season win in Toronto.
Gurley, who was the primary receiver on the drive, was the Argos' best contributor on offence leading all pass-catchers with 7 receptions for 188 yards and a major.
The lead was short lived however, as they went two-and-out on their next drive and were forced to punt. Anderson fielded the punt deep in his own end split a set of would be tacklers and out-ran the entire Argos cover-team for a 93-yard punt return major to get the Winnipeg lead back up to 13 points.
The Blue Bombers put the game out of reach with just under 8 minutes left when Marve completed a pair of short receptions and then handed the ball off to RB Cameron Marshall who raced 16 yards before taking a handoff 1-yard for a touchdown to increase the Bomber advantage to 34-14.
Gale pulled the Argos a bit closer on the ensuing drive, answering with a 36-yard pass to Kevin Bradfield before sneaking the ball in from the 1-yard line to cut the lead to 34-20.
Gale made the game interesting when he heaved another ball up for Gurley who out-raced the Bombers secondary for a 60-yard touchdown with just over two minuts remaining. But despite getting the ball back, he conceded a sack with 1:08 left on third-and-10 to end the comeback effort.
Toronto closes out the pre-season schedule next week in Montreal, while the Bombers use their last time to fine-tune at home against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Jeff Mathews and Jacory Harris were both sharp, while the Ticats return game shined as Hamilton handled the Ottawa REDBLACKS 37-10 in the CFL's 2015 pre-season opener Monday at Tim Hortons Field.
The two Tiger-Cats backup pivots put together three touchdown drives and receiver Quincy McDuffie ignited the lopsided win with a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in the victory.
With Zach Collaros firmly planted as the starter in TigerTown, Hamilton went with Mathews under centre who was looking to carry over some of what he learned at Cornell under offensive coordinator Tommy Condell to the pros.
On his second possession of the game, Mathews handed the ball off to RB Nic Grigsby for a pair of runs before calmly stepping into a pass which he delivered with accuracy over the top of the Ottawa secondary. Rookie receiver Terrence Toliver had a step on the defender and reeled in the pass on the post route for a 73-yard touchdown and a 7-0 first quarter lead.
Toliver played four seasons in the NFL before making his way to Hamilton, was looking to make a name for himself with top players such as Brandon Banks and Andy Fantuz not dressed and Luke Tasker seeing limited reps.
Of note on the drive was the convert which was hit from the 32-yard line, reflecting a new rule in the CFL this season after the League’s Board of Governers approved a host of changes which included moving the extra point attempts back.
The REDBLACKS countered with the veteran Henry Burris who is no stranger to the rhythm of pre-season football. The future hall-of-famer, who turned 40 this week, played the entire first quarter before giving way to Thomas DeMarco.
Burris finished 5 of 7 for 56 yards.
Mathews continued to play in the second quarter, engineering a 7-play, 31-yard drive on the strength of a 17-yard completion to WR Bakari Grant. The drive resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Justin Medlock to increase the lead to 10-0.
After DeMarco’s ensuing drive stalled, Mathews once again made the big play, connecting with Grant again, this time for 46 yards, to get the Cats in scoring position. Medlock knocked a 37-yard field goal through to increase the lead to 13.
With Mathews offering a cushion, the defence started to jump routes. One interception was called back on an offside but DeMarco’s second tipped pass of the game deflected off a receiver and into the waiting arms of McMaster graduate Mike Daly, who helped put the Ticats near midfield.
Mathews then delivered two passes to put Hamilton on the board again as he found local product Matt Coates over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown with 2:25 remaining to take the Ticats to halftime with a 20-0 lead.
Mathews finished the game 9 of 15 for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns.
DeMarco sat and Danny O’Brien started the second half for the REDBLACKS under centre but before he was even able to take the field, the deficit grew. On the opening kickoff of the second half, McDuffie took a 63-yard boot back 98 yards for the Hamilton touchdown.
McDuffie is fighting for a spot in a very crowded receiving corps, one that is contributing heavily on special teams. He and incumbents Brandon Banks and Terrell Sinkfield Jr. are all in the mix not only on offence but on kick returns.
The Ticats defence forced Ottawa to punt on the ensuing possession and then handed the ball to QB Jacory Harris.
Ticats receiver Matt Coates dives over the goal line in a dominant Hamilton pre-season win at home.
Harris took less time to make his mark than Mathews, going two-for-two on his first possession, spotting newcomer Tiquan Underwood for a 39-yard pass-and-run. Harris then finished the drive himself with a 1-yard touchdown plunge. The drive, which was set up by an impressive punt return by Sinkfield Jr put the game well out of reach at 34-0 midway through the third quarter.
Harris is in his second year, first with Hamilton after one season backing up in the Edmonton Eskimos system.
He followed that with another impressive drive, finding Coates for 20 yards and then scrambling and finding running room up field for 25 but had his next pass picked off in the endzone as Hamilton was looking to pad its lead with 3:43 left in the third frame.
The REDBLACKS broke the shutout as the fourth quarter got underway as O’Brien led a scoring drive capped off by a Torrance Hunt touchdown reception.
Brock Jensen entered the game after that to close things out for the REDBLACKS.
The ‘Cats added a 32-yard field goal off the foot of Medlock on the ensuing drive to put the score at 37-7 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
McDuffie almost had another punt return touchdown, this one for 103 yards, but offsetting penalties wiped it out.
Not to be outdone, Hunt took a punt of his own back on the next change of posession 46 yards but back-to-back sacks on Jensen by Adrian Tracey ensured that only a 35-yard field goal by Anthony Alix was the damage.
The REDBLACKS look to close out the pre-season with a 1-1 record next week when they play the Montreal Alouettes at Laval while the Ticats look to continue their momentum into the season in Winnipeg.