2nd Half - Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans (2)
They stood in the middle of the ring and traded jabs, uppercuts, crosses and haymakers. And in the end of a wild and wacky slugfest, it was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who once again had their hand raised as the victors.
The Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders served up an absolute dandy on a steamy Friday night at IG Field in what was a perfect three-hour advertisement for the Canadian Football League which should see the game film being stuffed into a time capsule.
And as the result of the Blue Bombers 26-19 victory in front of 29,746 sweat-soaked, beer-soaked, rum-soaked faithful, they not only stay atop the West Division and hand the Stamps their first loss of the year, but are also now 6-0 for the first time since 1960 when that edition opened their season 10-0.
“Hard fought – it always is with Calgary. They’re a great football team, great organization and we’re really happy to get out of there with a win,” said quarterback Zach Collaros. “A lot of things we can clean up and we’ll watch tomorrow critically, but we’re going to enjoy tonight.
“I can’t say enough about the atmosphere our fans brought tonight. That was just so much fun. You want to play against the best, and they’d probably feel the same way, too, but the fans were amazing all night long. I’m sure it was difficult for their offence with some moments there. They definitely brought a lot of adrenaline to our sideline.”
The Blue Bombers and Stampeders entered the game a combined 9-0 – the second-best combined record for two unbeaten teams since a 1961 matchup between Edmonton and Hamilton were 11-0 – and the night delivered all the promise advertised.
The two clubs were tied 13-13 at the half and the game was not sealed until a Demerio Houston interception in the end zone with 49 seconds remaining.
“They’re a very good football team and they make it extremely difficult – not only do you have to play a physical brand of football, but you’ve got to play a really clean game,” said Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “We had our little hiccups and mistakes and it was costly, but we managed to win. Any time you can beat Calgary it’s good.”
Asked about the atmosphere, O’Shea cracked: “I’d like to see the beer sales. I hope there’s something left when I get back to the room.”
In a battle of marquee quarterbacks it was Collaros – the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Player – who out-duelled Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell by completing 27 of 38 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns – both of them to Carlton Agudosi, who was making his Blue Bombers and CFL debut.
He’s that guy @Hungry_Humble22‼️
— Winnipeg Blue Bombers (@Wpg_BlueBombers) July 16, 2022
Mitchell, meanwhile, was 12 of 28 for 187 yards with one TD and the late pick by Houston.
“I just wanted to make my teammates, the coaches and the fans proud,” said Agudosi, who finished with six catches for 70 yards. “It feels amazing. I’m on Cloud 9. I’m going to enjoy it for tonight and then move on.”
Agudosi had his wife and daughter fly in from New Jersey for his first game and said he kept both touchdown balls for the two of them.
“My daughter has never seen me play. She was born last year,” he said. “My wife, she hasn’t seen me play since 2020 in the XFL before COVID hit.
“That’s my backbone. That’s the reason I do this and when I’m going through tough times, they’re always there for me. My wife since college in 2013. She’s my backbone.”
THE BIG MOMENT
Let’s fast forward right to the end of a game full of big plays and potential turning points. The Blue Bombers held a 26-19 advantage after Agudosi’s second TD when Calgary’s Mitchell appeared to hit Kamar Jorden for a potential game-tying score. But as the Stampeder receiver attempted to secure the pass the ball bounced up upon contact with the ground into the hands of a diving Houston.
Seriously, who writes this stuff!?
— CFL (@CFL) July 16, 2022
THE BIG STAT: 37:15
Time of possession isn’t always a telling stat, but the Blue Bombers held the ball for almost a full quarter than the Stampeders with 37 minutes and 15 seconds compared to Calgary’s 22:45. Winnipeg racked up 26 first downs to Calgary’s 14 and had 334 net yards of offence.
Offence: Greg Ellingson, Rec: The veteran receiver posted career numbers with 11 catches for 152 yards as he was targeted 14 times. An astonishing number within the numbers: seven of his 11 catches converted second down opportunities.
Defence: Demerio Houston, DB: He had six tackles, one knockdown and the game-clinching interception.
Special teams: Well… the teamers didn’t wrap themselves in glory with a Janarion Grant fumble leading to a Stampeders touchdown and a botched punt by Marc Liegghio – he pulled it down rather than have it blocked and was tackled short of the first-down marker – led directly to Calgary points. Honourable mention to Tanner Cadwallader, who had two special teams tackles.
The Blue Bombers are now unbeaten at home in their last 13 games – two wins to end 2019, 8-0 last year including the Western Final and now 3-0 this season. Winnipeg is now 23-1 in its last 24 games on home turf; their best stretch at home since a 27-1 mark from 1983-86.
- LB Adam Bighill had four tackles and in the process moved pass former Blue Bombers LB Greg Battle and move into eighth place on the CFL’s all-time list. Bighill is now at 767 career tackles, while Battle retired with 766.
- Ellingson’s huge night allowed boosted his career receiving totals to 8,470 yards, moving him past both Andy Fantuz and Fred Stamps into 34th spot on the CFL’s all-time list.
NEXT: The Blue Bombers are in the most gruelling portion of their 2022 schedule, a stretch that will see them play five of six tames on the road. The next chunk will see them play three straight away from IG Field – next Friday in Edmonton against the Elks, followed by trips to Calgary and Montreal.