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June 25, 2022

Game Recap | HAM 12 WPG 26

2nd Half - Willie Jefferson INT Touchdown celebration with fans

Dress them in royal blue or bright white – heck, they could suit them up in just about any hue in the colour spectrum – and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ‘Dark Side’ defence just keeps following the same script. Namely, they continue to pummel teams into submission.

The Blue Bombers improved to 3-0 with a 26-12 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in front of 23,600 at IG Field Friday night, in a game dominated, once again, by the defensive dozen. The ‘Dark Side’ now surrendered just one touchdown in three games and 41 points overall.

Even more impressive? Winnipeg is now an astonishing 21-1 in its last 22 games at IG Field – including last December’s Western Final – for the best home run since a 27-1 mark over a stretch from 1983-86.

“It’s very important,” said defensive end Willie Jefferson of the team’s home dominance. “It’s very important to be dominant, it’s very important to be confident in yourself as a team.

“We know who we are, and we know the kind of football we like to play – it’s fast, physical and it’s in your face. If we can come in and be the most physical team by the end of the game we’ve already beat up teams to where they don’t want to finish.”

Wearing white for the first time at home in eons as a salute to their ‘championship jerseys’ they had worn in the two Grey Cup victories over the Ticats, the Blue Bombers jumped ahead 6-0 and led 14-9 at the intermission before putting the hammer down in the second half. Winnipeg limited the Ticats to just one field goal in the final two quarters and has now out-scored the opposition to just four field goals in second halves this season.

On top of that, Jefferson added a TD of his own with a fourth-quarter Pick-6 off a deflection that saw him run 30 yards for the score.

“It’s huge,” said running back Brady Oliveira of the defence. “Whenever you can get those three-and-outs and get our offence back on the field… I mean, you look at our defence – Jackson Jeffcoat was out there making plays, Willie Jefferson with that Pick 6 was incredible. Our defence is fire right now and they’re playing great football.”

FYI

Slotback Nic Demski led the Bombers in receiving yards with 96 on six receptions but did not finish the game with an apparent ankle injury. Brendan O’Leary-Orange replaced Demski and pulled in three passes for 22 receptions. Head coach Mike O’Shea had no update on his status immediately after the game.

THE BIG MOMENT

The Blue Bombers were up 18-9 in the fourth quarter when Willie Jefferson did what Willie Jefferson does so often by putting the choke hold on the game with a Pick-6 touchdown that put the home side up 25-9.

Jefferson now has five career touchdowns and one in each of the last two seasons with the Blue Bombers.

“I’m living right. That’s all I can say,” he said. “Effort. I had the opportunity to run to the ball and the ball just happened to find me. I’ve just got to be hungry. You don’t get rewarded for being lazy.”

THE BIG STAT: 41

The Bombers have surrendered just 41 points in three games, for an average of 13.7 points per game.

GAME BALLS

Offence: Zach Collaros, QB – Finished the night 21 of 32 for 302 yards with one interception and stood in the pocket to deliver strikes on a night in which Demski left due to injury and the Ticat defence brought him to the ground four times for sacks.

Defence: Willie Jefferson, DE – The big man makes the big plays that jump out, but the Blue Bombers defensive front was in the face of Dane Evans all night with Jackson Jeffcoat, Donald Rutledge, Jr. and Kyrie Wilson all knocking down passes.

Special teams: Marc Liegghio, K – He connected on all three of his field goal attempts – from 45, 30 and 32 yards – and had a 54.6-yard average on nine punts. He is now 7-for-7 on field goals this year. Honourable mention to all the Blue Bombers kick-cover units, who were outstanding.

NOTABLE

  • Six different receivers caught passes – Demski, O’Leary-Orange, Greg Ellingson, Drew Wolitarsky, Dalton Schoen and Rasheed Bailey – with all six of them also converting second downs.
  • The Blue Bombers are on an 12-game home win streak dating back to a pair of victories at the end of 2019, a perfect 8-0 run last year that included the Western Final and decisions over Ottawa and Hamilton to open 2022.
  • The Blue Bombers are also 32-2 when holding teams under 20 points dating back to 2015.

MILESTONE WATCH

LB Adam Bighill added two tackles to his career total and now needs just 10 more to pass former Blue Bombers LB Greg Battle and move into eighth place on the CFL’s all-time list. Bighill is at 757, Battle retired with 766 career tackles.

NEXT: The Blue Bombers now enter the most gruelling portion of their schedule, with five of their next six tames on the road. That stretch begins on Monday, July 4th in Toronto against the Argonauts and then sees the club travel to Vancouver five days later for a game against the B.C. Lions on Saturday, July 9th.

Winnipeg next home date is Friday, July 15th vs. the Calgary Stampeders, followed by road trips to Edmonton to face the Elks, a stop in Cowtown and then a visit to Montreal to play the Alouettes.