HARRIS AND BIGHILL SHINE BRIGHT AS BOMBERS TOP LIONS
Andrew Harris carried the load and Adam Bighill made a huge impact as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rolled to a 41-19 home victory against the BC Lions on Saturday night.
The CFL’s top rushing attack continued to find success once again, with Harris finishing the night with 109 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, including a 43-yard run.
Bighill had a night to remember in his first game against his former team, reeling in two interceptions and returning one for a 55-yard touchdown.
Matt Nichols looked sharp in his season debut for the Bombers, finishing with 162 passing yards and a touchdown, but the team leaned on Harris and the running game all night long as they grabbed their second win of the season.
Both teams started out slow on offence until running back Jeremiah Johnson began to get things rolling on the ground for BC. Johnson put together back-to-back first down runs as the team drove into scoring position. But the Bombers’ defence held strong and forced the Lions to settle for a 19-yard field goal from kicker Ty Long, giving BC an early 3-0 lead.
Quarterback Chris Streveler showed he could still make an impact for Winnipeg despite the return of Nichols. The athletic pivot found the edge for a 26-yard run on the Bombers’ ensuing drive, and he proceeded to move the chains with tough rushing yardage up the middle. Nichols came back on the field and began to find a passing rhythm as he led the offence down the field, and the veteran passer connected with receiver Darvin Adams for a 20-yard touchdown strike to give Winnipeg the 7-3 lead.
The Bombers’ defense made a big play of their own on the following drive, as former Lions linebacker Adam Bighill picked off a Jennings pass to give the ball straight back to Winnipeg’s offence. The interception was Bighill’s first as a Bomber.
Winnipeg quickly made the most of the turnover, and Harris showed off his vertical ability by catching a short pass and hurdling a Lion defender for an impressive 11-yard gain, setting the team up with a first and goal. Harris took a direct snap on the next play and found a hole on the left side to reach the end zone for a four-yard score, giving Winnipeg a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Streveler made a big play through the air when he found receiver Daniel Petermann for a 24-yard gain, with Petermann gaining 19 yards after the catch. Streveler finished off the drive two plays later with a one-yard quarterback sneak across the goal line, putting the Bombers on top 21-3.
Winnipeg’s defense prevented the Lions from sustaining any drives on offence early on, with their defensive front constantly applying pressure and allowing no room for Jennings to make a play.
Harris put together his biggest run of the season so far when he found daylight and accelerated into the open field for a 43-yard gain. Nichols completed a pass to Adams for a 37-yard pick up on the following play, putting Winnipeg back in scoring position. Harris displayed his dynamic ability every time he touched the ball, finishing the first half with 101 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Streveler finished things off once again with his second short-yardage touchdown of the game, giving Winnipeg a 28-3 lead.
The Lions showed a major sense of urgency in the final minutes of the opening half, and Chris Rainey gave his team a massive spark with a 63-yard kick return. Jennings made multiple key throws on the drive, including a 12-yard connection to Rainey that put the team in scoring position. Johnson capped off the 73-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run, making it 28-10 heading into halftime.
Jennings and the BC offence continued to move the ball after the half, and they were able to cut into Winnipeg’s lead once again with a 42-yard field goal from Ty Long.
The Bombers responded with a big 36-yard punt return from Kevin Fogg that helped regain momentum. Nichols proceeded to march the Bombers’ offence into position for a 31-yard field goal from kicker Justin Medlock, giving Winnipeg a 31-13 lead near the end of the third quarter.
Bighill came up big once again for Winnipeg when he picked off his second pass of the night and returned it for a 55-yard touchdown. The athletic linebacker read Jennings the entire way as the quarterback tried to find receiver Bryan Burnham on a crossing route, and the score helped put the Bombers on top 38-13.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo came into the game for BC, but he was also intercepted when Bombers’ defensive back Chris Randle made an impressive play to get his hands on the ball. Winnipeg capitalized by adding a 26-yard field goal from Medlock to give them a 41-13 lead.
Fajardo added a rushing touchdown for BC in the final minute, but it was too little too late as Winnipeg secured the 41-19 victory.
Both teams will see each other again next week in a rematch, with the Bombers heading on the road to face the Lions next Saturday night.