September 25, 2019

Game Recap | TOR 28 WPG 27

Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris (33) runs the ball for a touchdown during first half CFL football action against the Toronto Argonauts, in Toronto on Thursday, August 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

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TORONTO – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ week-long jaunt to Southern Ontario has brought them back to the pack in the Canadian Football League with a resounding thud.

The Bombers followed up last Friday’s mistake-filled loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with another sloppy and incomplete effort in a 28-27 loss to the Toronto Argonauts Thursday night at BMO Field.

And so the third-best start in Bombers history – the 5-0 run out of the starting blocks – is now a distant memory as the squad dropped two straight over eight days in the Golden Horseshoe.

The Argos, who had been winless to start 2019 and just 1-15 in their last 16, improved to 1-6.

“We need to finish. We need to be more disciplined. We can’t take anyone lightly,” began Bombers running back Andrew Harris. “We made a lot of mistakes today. Overall, we started off well, the momentum shifted and we never got it back.

“We left some plays out there… we just need to be better overall. It’s too much of a rollercoaster now.”

Thursday’s effort wasn’t just a rollercoaster featuring gentle climbs and gradual declines, but dramatic and sharp ups and downs that showcased both the best and the worst of the 2019 Bombers.

The squad dominated the first 26 minutes of the game, rocketing to a 20-0 lead on Harris TD runs of 56 and 13 yards along with Justin Medlock field goals of 32 and 52 yards.

But the Bombers then released their grip on the Argos, who not only wriggled free but then pile-drived the visitors with 10 points before the end of the first half, 10 more in the third quarter before a dramatic finish.

Argos pivot McLeod Bethel-Thompson – playing to protect his starting gig in the wake of Wednesday’s Zach Collaros trade and with James Franklin scheduled to come off the injured list – connected with S.J. Green on an 11-yard score with 10 seconds left that tied the score at 27, with Tyler Crapigna’s ensuing convert the difference.

Bethel-Thompson was sensational in the win, completing 37-of-49 for 343 yards and three TDs – to Green, Rodney Smith and a Jamal Campbell on a tackle-eligible play near the goal line – while also rushing five times for 44 yards and three first downs to keep drives alive.

“We had some costly penalties, missed executions and just didn’t play well enough to win, that’s the frustrating part,” said Bombers middle linebacker Adam Bighill. “(The Argos) did a great job. They had a good scheme to try and spread the ball around and Bethel-Thompson did a solid job at the end by putting the game on his legs a little bit. It was the smart thing to do with the scheme we were running there and so at the end of the day you’ve got to give them credit.”

Reeling after surrendering the 20-point advantage, the Bombers recovered to take a 27-20 lead early in the fourth quarter on a Matt Nichols-to-Chris Matthews TD. The Bombers also looked to have locked down the game with 2:27 left when Willie Jefferson sacked Bethel-Thompson, forcing a fumble that he then recovered.

But the Bombers then went two-and-out on their next possession – taking just 40 seconds off the clock in the process – to set up the late dramatics, a nine-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped by the Green score.

The back-to-back losses ended a five-game stretch against East Division opponents that dated back to their home-opening win over Edmonton. The Bombers will now be home for two straight Thursday night games, August 8th vs. Calgary and August 15th vs. the B.C. Lions as part of a five-game run against West Division rivals with the two home games followed by visits to Edmonton and Regina for the Labour Day Classic, and then the Banjo Bowl.

“We need to look ourselves in the mirror and realize that just because we won our first five games it’s a long season,” said Harris. “Things can change quickly. We need to be better overall. We need to be more disciplined in practice, we need to work harder in practice and come to games more focused. Whatever it is, every single guy needs to look himself in the mirror.

“We’re a good team. We know we’re a good team. We proved it. But the last two games have not showed that. Now, that’s not taking anything away from Hamilton or Toronto, but we weren’t playing Blue Bomber-style football these last two weeks and so we need to look ourselves in the mirror and get back to our winning ways.


28: Points scored by the Argos in the final 32 minutes and 42 seconds of the game after falling behind 20-0. Toronto out-scored the Bombers from that point on 28-7.


The Bombers’ inactive player was DB Dexter Janke. DB Chris Humes and WR Chris Matthews started for the injured Brandon Alexander and Darvin Adams, respectively, and were productive. Humes finished with eight tackles, while Matthews had three catches for 43 yards and a TD… DE Jackson Jeffcoat suffered a lower-body injury in first half did not return… Canadian DE Jonathan Kongbo made his CFL debut and showed the athleticism that led to the Bombers selecting him 5th overall in the 2019 CFL Draft. He got some snaps along the D-line, especially after the injury to Jeffcoat, but also took two penalties – a roughing the passer and holding on a kick return.


152: Rushing yards for Andrew Harris on 15 carries. He had nine carries for 107 yards and two TDs in the first half.

4: Winston Rose had his consecutive game streak with an interception come to a stop at four. He was just the third CFL player to have a four-game interception streak dating back to 1994, along with Edmonton’s Weldon Brown and Chris Thompson, also of the Esks. The Bomber record for consecutive games with an interception is five, shared by Tom Casey (1952) and Roy Bennett (1987).

9: The Argos have now gone nine straight games, dating back to late last season, without scoring an offensive touchdown. That covers 34 first-quarter possessions.