WINNIPEG — Rookie kicker Marc Liegghio nailed a 45-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining to give the Winnipeg Blue Bombers an 18-16 win over the Calgary Stampeders to close out Week 4 on Sunday night.
The back-and-forth battle saw multiple lead changes throughout, and Calgary nearly stole the game on the final play with Rene Paredes’ 52-yard field goal attempt falling short.
Reigning Grey Cup MVP Andrew Harris was triumphant in his return from injury. The three-time CFL leading rusher carried the ball 17 times for 81 yards and a touchdown while making his season debut in front of the hometown crowd at IG Field.
Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros completed 16 of 25 passes for 243 yards to help the Bombers improve to 2-0 at home to start the season.
Liegghio bounced back from a missed convert by making all four of his field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder.
Stamps rookie quarterback Jake Maier started the game with 17 consecutive completions, including a perfect first half. The 24-year-old finished his second CFL start with 30 completions for 307 yards on 39 pass attempts.
Winnipeg’s Rasheed Bailey recorded a game-high 108 receiving yards on four catches, while Josh Huff led the Stamps with 92 yards on six grabs.
Harris’ first carry since the 2019 Grey Cup went for a five-yard gain that drew loud cheers from the home crowd, and he followed it up with a seven-yard run two plays later. But Calgary’s defence kept the door closed on the opening drive and forced the early punt.
Calgary got its own ground game started with Ka’Deem Carey rushing for eight yards on the Stamps’ opening play. Maier’s first completion went to Huff for a 10-yard gain, and the young passer kept the offence on the field with back-to-back completions to Carey and Huff.
Maier continued to establish an early rhythm with an 11-yard pass to Markeith Ambles for a fresh set of downs. But the drive ultimately stalled against Winnipeg’s stout defensive front, and the Stamps settled for a 35-yard field goal from Paredes — his 14th straight.
Winnipeg gained momentum when Bailey stormed down the sideline on a 50-yard catch-and-run, nearly scoring before being dragged down by DaShaun Amos at the two-yard line. Harris took over from there and found the end zone on a tough run up the middle to give Winnipeg the 6-3 lead, which remained the same after Liegghio’s extra point attempt went wide to the right.
Maier remained efficient in the second quarter, with his eighth consecutive completion going for a 16-yard gain to receiver Hergy Mayala. But the stingy Bombers defence held strong, and Paredes kicked the 39-yard field goal to tie the game at six points apiece.
Calgary opted to go for it on third down on its next drive, and it appeared to pay off as Maier completed a 41-yard strike to Huff. But the Stamps receiver was then stripped of the ball by Winnipeg defensive back Mike Jones, and Adam Bighill scooped up the fumble to secure the turnover.
The linebacker returned the fumble 15 yards, and Winnipeg converted the turnover into points when Liegghio nailed a 50-yard field goal — his first in the CFL. But Calgary responded with a long scoring drive that started with a 14-yard run from Carey, and a 15-yard catch-and-run from Ante Milanovic-Litre.
Maier followed it with a 20-yard pass to Huff, and Carey capped the drive off with a 17-yard touchdown run up the middle. Paredes kicked the convert to put the Stamps up 13-9.
The Bombers appeared to regain the lead in the third quarter on a 76-yard touchdown from receiver Kenny Lawler, but the play was reversed to a 33-yard gain after a review ruled him down by contact. Calgary’s defence held strong from there, forcing Winnipeg to settle for a 42-yard field goal from Liegghio.
Winnipeg’s defence stepped up to slow down Maier and company in the second half with relentless pressure. The Bombers’ offence extended a fourth-quarter drive when backup quarterback Sean McGuire moved the sticks on third down, and Winnipeg went back on top with a 15-13 lead a couple plays later on a 37-yard field goal from Liegghio.
Maier recorded his first career CFL reception on Calgary’s next drive. The quarterback pitched the ball to Ambles after taking the snap, and Ambles threw the ball across the field to Maier near the left sideline. Calgary finished the drive by taking a one-point lead on a 33-yard field goal from Paredes.
Solid gains from Bailey and Harris set up Liegghio’s game-winning field goal in the final minute, and the Stamps’ offence was unable to get close enough to make their own game-winning kick.
Winnipeg (3-1) will travel on the road to face the undefeated Saskatchewan Roughriders (3-0) next Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, while Calgary (1-3) will host the Edmonton Elks (1-2) the following Monday at 4:30 p.m. ET.