Sergio Castillo was perfect on four field goal tries and Tim Flanders scored on the final play of the first half, leading the Bombers to a 36-13 pre-season win over the Alouettes on Wednesday night in Winnipeg.
Bryan Bennett contributed a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to seal the deal, sending Winnipeg to a 1-0 record in pre-season on a night that saw several quarterbacks play for both clubs.
Bombers fans hoping to see Andrew Harris and Ryan Smith weren’t disappointed, as Smith made a 32-yard catch from Drew Willy in limited action while Harris showed off his impressive downhill running style on a screen play that went for a touchdown but was called back.
Justin Medlock kicked his first field goal as a Bomber from long range, but in the end it was his backup Castillo making the biggest difference, hitting three of his game-high four field goals in the third quarter to pace the Bombers to the eventual victory in the CFL pre-season opener.
Weston Dressler did not get reps on offence for the Bombers but served as a holder on special teams, while Drew Willy and Kevin Glenn each played for the entire first quarter.
Glenn, named the Alouettes’ starting quarterback going into pre-season, finished a busy night with 14 completions on 19 attempts for 140 yards and a touchdown, including a strike to Nik Lewis early in the second quarter to give the Alouettes a 7-3 lead.
Willy finished his day with three completions on six passing attempts for 52 yards.
Glenn and Willy each played the entire first quarter, which ended in a 3-0 Bombers lead on a 47-yard field goal by free agent signing Medlock.
Maurice Leggett celebrates a big play for the Bombers (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
But while Willy’s day was done through 15 minutes, Glenn had one more drive that extended through the start of the second quarter and it was a big one. The veteran pivot continued his efficient evening with six straight completions, eventually drawing a pass interference penalty on second down before finding Lewis for the five-yard score.
With all the talk about Vernon Adams and Brandon Bridge this training camp, Rakeem Cato had become somewhat of a forgotten man in Montreal but on Wednesday he was the second quarterback to lead the huddle. Cato stepped on the field in the second quarter and didn’t take long to find the end zone, capping off a five-play scoring drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to rookie 5-foot-8 receiver Chandler Jones in the back of the end zone.
Chandler maintained his concentration to hang on for the catch in between Bombers defenders, while Boris Bede missed the extra point as the Alouettes extended their lead to 13-3.
Matt Nichols took over for a brief period in the second quarter before turning the game over the Dominique Davis. The second-year Bomber pivot is in a battle for the third string quarterback position and started his bid on the right foot, setting up a Castillo field goal to cut the deficit to 13-6.
Just before the half Davis threaded the needle to Thomas Mayo, eventually setting up a hard-fought one-yard touchdown by Flanders with no time left on the clock. The ruling of a touchdown was reviewed but upheld, tying the game at 13 apiece through 30 minutes of play in Winnipeg.
A fumbled return by Alouettes receiver Mikhail Davidson helped the Bombers and Castillo connect on back to back field goals, while former Oregon Duck Bennett entered the game with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
Castillo’s fourth field goal of the night extended Winnipeg’s lead to 22-13 heading into the fourth quarter, and from that point it was Vernon Adams’ chance for the Alouettes.
Adams stepped into the Als’ huddle early in the fourth, but his pro football debut didn’t start exactly as planned as his pass was deflected by rookie draft pick Rupert Butcher and intercepted by second-year defensive back Garrett Waggoner.
With the Bombers switching back and forth between Davis and Bennett, the latter put the final points on the board for the Blue and Gold with a touchdown run in the fourth quarter followed by a touchdown toss to receiver Fred Williams. That put the game well out of reach, preserving a 36-13 win for Winnipeg.
The Bombers are next in action on June 13 when they visit the Ottawa REDBLACKS, while the Alouettes return home to take on the Argos on June 17.
Both clubs will meet again in Week 1 of the CFL season in June 24 in Winnipeg.