Winnipeg Blue Bombers runningback Charles Roberts (1) looks back at wide receiver Milt Stegall (85) during practice in Toronto Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007. The Saskatchewan Roughriders will play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 95th Grey Cup on Sunday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
The Winnipeg Football Club has 90 years of history to celebrate, dating way back to the days of leather helmets and the Great Depression.
Over that time there have been countless great plays authored by superstar players… and average Joes, too. There have been memorable games featuring iconic moments and, dating back to 1930, this franchise has captured a Grey Cup championship 11 times.
Each week bluebombers.com cracks open the record book, dusts off the archives and dives deep into our collective memory banks for our Top 10 Exclusive list.
This week: TDs In One Game
One of the cool things about scrolling through the Canadian Football League’s statistics is discovering the many astonishing individual records established by its amazing players over the decades
A couple of examples we were reminded of this week: two of those records – most touchdowns in a regular season game and most touchdowns in a playoff game – are held by members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Both were set in the month of October and both many, many moons ago.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a Top 10 list of touchdowns scored by a Blue Bomber in one game. Check that… it’s actually a Top 13 list, as we have a 11-way tie for the fourth most scores in a single game in franchise history.
1. Lorne ‘Boom-Boom’ Benson – 6 TDs – October 28, 1953, vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Bombers crushed the Roughriders 43-5 in the first of a two-game total point series that served as the West Semi-final in 1953 (Winnipeg lost the second 18-17, but still advanced, then defeated Edmonton in the best-of-three West Final, Toronto Balmy Beach in the Grey Cup Semi-Final before falling to Hamilton in the Grey Cup).
But on this day in late October, Benson scored six times – all on rushing attempts – in the Bombers’ win over the Riders.
The headline in the Winnipeg Tribune the next day: ‘Benson Barges for Six (6) Touchdowns as Bombers Steam-Roller Riders, 43-5′.
2. Bob McNamara – 6 TDs – October 13, 1956, at B.C. Lions
We listed Benson’s six-TD game ahead of McNamara’s only because the momentous occasion took place in a playoff game. McNamara’s effort came in the Bombers’ 13th game of the 1956 season.
Jack Matheson, one of the best ever to tap out stories in this country, wrote this in The Trib:
“In the most awe-inspiring display Empire Stadium has witnessed since Bannister took Landy, big Mac Pretty well flushed Vancouver’s playoff hopes into the Straits of Juan DeFuca, uncluttered at this time of year by well-oiled distance swimmers.’
3. Ernie Pitts – 5 TDs – August 29, 1959, at Saskatchewan Roughriders
Two CFL records were broken in the Bombers’ 61-8 win over the Riders at Taylor Field. First, Bombers’ QB Jim Van Pelt threw for seven touchdowns – then a CFL record, eclipsing the mark of six set by another Bombers legend in Jack Jacobs in 1952 and later surpassed by Hamilton’s Joe Zuger, who had eight in a game in 1962.
Five of Van Pelt’s TD passes went to Ernie Pitts, who set a new record for TD receptions in a game with five.
4. Willard Reaves – 4 TDs – September 15, 1984 vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Bombers landed Reaves in a trade with Edmonton in a steal of a deal in 1983, sending a first-round draft pick in 1984 (Edmonton selected Chris Skinner) and future considerations west for Reaves, running backs Sean Kehoe and Scott Stauchland and defensive back Steven Hall.
Reaves led the Bombers in rushing in each of his five years with the club and in ’84 he had 14 TDs – four of them in this game against the Ticats – en route to being named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player.
5. James Jefferson – 4 TDs – October 4, 1987 vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
A strange one as Jefferson, a cornerback for the Bombers, scored two touchdowns on interception returns – without intercepting the passes – as he took laterals before scoring. Jefferson also scored on a punt return and on a fumble recovery.
6. Tim Jessie – 4 TDs – July 25, 1989 at Ottawa Rough Riders
A draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1987, Jessie was a solid running back who was part of the Bombers’ 1988 Grey Cup team. He led the Bombers in rushing in 1989 with 808 yards, scoring nine touchdowns and added two more on receptions. Four of those nine rushing scores came in 43-32 shootout victory over Ottawa in the nation’s capital.
7. Alfred Jackson – 4 TDs – July 14, 1994 vs. Edmonton
Sometimes forgotten on the night Matt Dunigan threw for a CFL record 713 yards were the men on the receiving end of so many of those passes. Both Alfred Jackson and David Williams set club record for receiving yardage that night – Jackson’s mark of 308 still stands, while Williams’ total of 240 ranks third, behind Milt Stegall’s 254.
On that historic evening, Jackson pulled in four TD passes from Dunigan covering distances of 56, 34, 54 and 88 yards.
8. Gerald Alphin – 4 TDs – October 8, 1994 at Shreveport Pirates
The Bombers blitzed the Pirates 38-22 in front of just 14,088 fans in Louisiana, with Gerald Alphin on the receiving end of four touchdown passes from Keithen McCant. Alphin finished with 73 catches for 994 yards and a whopping 18 TDs that season.
9. Arland Bruce III – 4 TDs – August 23, 2002 vs. Calgary Stampeders
This game is remembered for one of the biggest comebacks in Bombers history – tied for the eighth biggest lead overcome, at 17 points – as the Bombers rallied for a 51-48 win in overtime.
Bruce III latched on to four TD passes from Khari Jones, including a score with 24 seconds left in regulation to send the game to OT.
10. Charles Roberts – 4 TDs – September 8, 2002 vs. B.C. Lions
Just a couple of weeks after Bruce III’s heroics, the Bombers received a spectacular effort from Charles Roberts, then in his first season as the club’s No. 1 running back after sharing the role in ’01. Roberts rushed for 111 yards and three TDs and added four receptions for 44 yards and another score in a 44-28 win over the Lions.
11. Milt Stegall – 4 TDs – October 6, 2002 at Saskatchewan Roughriders
Incredibly, less than a month after the four-TD game from Roberts and 44 days after Arland Bruce’s feat against the Stampeders, the Bombers got another as Milt Stegall scored four times in a 35-32 overtime win in Saskatchewan. That was part of a season in which Stegall set a league record with 23 touchdowns and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player.
12. Charles Roberts – 4 TDs – June 28, 2007 at Edmonton
The Bombers opened the 2007 season with Milt Stegall pursuing George Reed and Mike Pringle for the CFL’s all-time TD record. Stegall tied the two legends with his 137th score in the final minute to send the game to OT. Forgotten that night was the fact Roberts rushed for 93 yards and four TDs in a game that finished as a 39-39 tie.
13. Milt Stegall – 4 TDs – October 10, 2005 vs. B.C. Lions
Finally, we take you back 15 years to Thanksgiving weekend in 2005. Stegall authored one of his most memorable performances in a career full of them, finishing with 234 yards receiving – fourth most in club history – for four TDs in a 44-23 win over the Leos.