Blue Bombers use balanced offense to take out Stampeders –

WINNIPEG — Mike O’Shea was pleased the Blue Bombers provided fans with a thrilling up and down battle against the Calgary Stampeders on Thursday, especially when it was Winnipeg that earned a historic 31-29 win.

The Bombers (10-1) became the first team in CFL history to record 400 home wins (Calgary has 399). They did it in front of 30,062 fans at IG Field, who were also treated to some Stampeders highlights.

“I would say it’s probably not a classic in terms of when coaches look at it, but for CFL fans, I don’t think they care,” the head coach said. Bombers. “It was a hell of a match for the public.”

Calgary receiver (6-4) Malik Henry caught three touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Jake Maier, who was starting for the first time in place of healthy veteran Bo Levi Mitchell.

Henry, who missed the previous two games with injury, finished with seven catches for 122 yards.

Maier threw an incomplete pass on his first possession of the game, but then completed 15 consecutive passes. He was 15 of 16 for 194 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and finished 23 of 28 for 294 yards with no interceptions.

Maier said the offense played well for three quarters, but didn’t do enough in the fourth when the Winnipeg defense saved their shots.

“I feel like we didn’t finish well enough, and it starts with me,” he said. “Second-to-last or second-to-last practice in the game, took a bad sack, missed a pitch, had a few balls down.

“I have to be better in those times, and we will.”

Winnipeg has won all three games against Calgary this season, giving them a series sweep for the first time since 1987. Other wins have also been close scores of 26-19 and 35-28.

Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros, who was intercepted twice in the end zone by Stampeders defensive back Brad Muhammad, passed 19 of 26 for 294 yards and two touchdowns.

“Two great organizations. Two great teams,” Collaros said. “I think we showed a lot of resilience.

“I put us in a few bad places and the whole team picked me up, picked up the attack.”

Winnipeg got touchdowns from receivers Greg McCrae, Nic Demski and Rasheed Bailey. Backup quarterback Dakota Prukop recorded another TD with a two-yard stealth kick and threw the 10-yard TD strike to Bailey. Marc Liegghio threw a 32-yard field goal and was good on four converts.

Calgary kicker Rene Paredes scored for 47 and 31 yards and had three converts. The Stampeders also had two singles when Winnipeg conceded on punts.

The Bombers led 14-8 after the first quarter. Calgary had an 18-17 lead at halftime and a 25-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson acknowledged Maier was under a lot of pressure.

“I think we did a pretty good job of staying balanced, working things back and forth,” Dickenson said. “Indeed (after half-time) we had two games where we could have made big plays and we didn’t.”

He also agreed with O’Shea that the game was a treat for fans.

“Fight again, back and forth, good fun but not on our side,” Dickenson said. “We always come out with a loss and it hurts.”

Winnipeg had a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, but also two injuries to defensive backs.

After Collaros threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to McCrae at 12:17 on Winnipeg’s opening possession, Calgary responded with a 61-yard touchdown catch from Henry at 8:30.

Henry’s run to the end zone was aided by an injury to Bombers cornerback Demerio Houston. As Houston ran to cover Henry, he stopped and fell to the turf. He limped off the field and did not return.

Replacement Bombers cornerback Patrice Rene was later injured during Calgary’s kickoff coverage. He was taken off the field on a cart.

Starting running back Brady Oliveira was sidelined with his helmet removed in the second half, but O’Shea had no updates on the injured line.

Oliveira was replaced by Johnny Augustine, who made four key carries for 20 yards in Winnipeg’s final drive of the game that took more than two minutes and sealed the victory.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 25, 2022.

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