EDMONTON — Two defensive scores led the way in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win over the Edmonton Elks on Saturday night.
After giving up the lead in the third quarter, the Bombers defence stepped up in a big way thanks to a pick-six from defensive back DeAundre Alford and a fumble recovery touchdown from linebacker Adam Bighill.
Once the Bombers got the lead back, they never gave it up again on their way to a 37-22 win.
Darvin Adams and Nic Demski scored touchdowns in Winnipeg’s win while Zach Collaros threw for 252, a touchdown and an interception.
For the Elks, running back James Wilder Jr. found the end zone twice while quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw for 243 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Collaros wasted no time moving the chains on his team’s first drive of the game and appeared to find Darvin Adams in the end zone for the opening score. However, Edmonton’s head coach Jaime Elizondo challenged that there was offensive pass interference and it was successful, erasing the major score and moving Winnipeg back 10 yards.
But that didn’t matter to the Bombers. On second down, Collaros once again looked to Adams, who hauled in the touchdown pass in double coverage. The nine-play, 75-yard drive saw Collaros spread the ball around to Drew Wolitarsky, Adams and Rasheed Bailey, along with some key runs from Andrew Harris, and with the convert, Winnipeg took an early 7-0 lead.
Cornelius then took the field for his first possession of the game but was held to a two-and-out.
The Bombers picked up right where they left off on their next drive, moving down the field and setting up a Nic Demski touchdown. Demski took the handoff and scampered 21 yards, shaking off multiple tackles to get into the end zone. With the extra point, Winnipeg increased their lead to 14-0.
Edmonton’s defence made a big play late in the first quarter as the Bombers were driving once again. Collaros was searching for Adams in the end zone but defensive back Trumaine Washington picked off the pivot bringing the Elks offence back onto the field. Unfortunately for the home team, they weren’t able to score any points off the turnover as the first frame came to a close.
Winnipeg’s defence started the early stages of the second quarter with a turnover, as DeAundre Alford forced Derel Walker to fumble and Jesse Briggs scooped it up. However, the Edmonton defence answered with a turnover of their own as Christian Rector sacked Collaros to force him to fumble and recovered the ball himself on the ensuing drive.
Edmonton then capitalized on the turnover by finding the end zone, as Cornelius handed off to James Wilder Jr. who rumbled through a few tackles for the score. With the extra point, the Elks cut the Bombers lead to 14-7.
Winnipeg got in field goal position with just about a minute and a half left in the second quarter but Ali Mourtada missed his 28-yard attempt, adding a single to the Bombers lead (15-7).
Edmonton responded with a field goal as Sean Whyte booted a 44-yarder to end the first half with the Bombers leading 15-10.
When the Elks got the ball to start the second half, Cornelius moved the chains 70 yards on six plays, including a 30-yard catch from Greg Ellingson, to set up Wilder Jr.’s second touchdown of the night. With the completed convert, Edmonton took their first lead of the contest (16-15).
Winnipeg responded with a drive that moved them into field goal range but Mourtada missed his second attempt of the night, this one from 51-yards out.
Edmonton’s lead didn’t last long as the turnovers continued in the second half. Rookie defensive back Alford intercepted Cornelius, the first of his CFL career, and returned it 20 yards for the pick-six. Collaros connected with Adams on the two-point convert, giving Winnipeg a 23-16 lead.
The home team tacked on another field goal on their next possession, this one was good from 32-yards out, with about four and a half minutes left in the third frame. The score cut Winnipeg’s lead to 23-19.
On the Bombers next drive, Mourtada missed his third field goal attempt of the evening, this one from 44 yards out.
Pinned deep in their own zone, Cornelius scrambled out of the pocket and fumbled the ball. Adam Bighill scooped up the football and muscled his way into the end zone for the team’s second defensive score of the quarter. Along with the point after, Winnipeg extended their league to 30-19.
A drive that featured a 44-yard scamper from Edmonton’s backup QB Dakota Prukop ended with another Whyte field goal in the fourth quarter. Whyte connected on his 20-yard attempt, cutting the Bombers lead to 30-22.
With four minutes left in the game and the ball in Winnipeg’s hands, an unnecessary roughness penalty called on Mathieu Betts moved the Bombers deep into Edmonton territory. Then a pass interference penalty on Jonathan Rose, who was covering Wolitarsky in the end zone, brought Winnipeg down to the one-yard line. That set up Sean McGuire to come in on short yardage to plunge into the end zone on the QB sneak for the score. The extra point was good and the Bombers held a 37-22 lead.
As Edmonton was looking to respond late in the fourth, Nichols picked off Cornelius for the Bombers defensive back’s third interception of the season.
With just seconds remaining on the clock, Cornelius tried to air it out looking for Walker but it was Alford who nabbed another pick to seal the deal.
Up next for both of the Elks and Blue Bombers is a week of rest as they both head out on a Week 8 bye.