Menu
@
July 30, 2022

Game Recap | WPG 35 CGY 28

Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Nic Demski, left, celebrates his touchdown with teammate receiver Drew Wolitarsky during first half CFL football action against the Calgary Stampeders in Calgary, Saturday, July 30, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – There was nothing subtle or nuanced about it. It was part smash-mouth, part dynamic, eye-catching skill and the perfect advertisement for three-down football.

So, now we bring you a message from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after the club improved to 8-0 Saturday night in front of 25,147 at McMahon Stadium, all the while channelling their inner Gladiator after slaying another foe in a 35-28 win over the Calgary Stampeders:

“Are you not entertained?”

“That was a helluva game,” began head coach Mike O’Shea outside a raucous Blue Bombers dressing room. “I know we played fairly clean and from the way it felt Calgary was playing fairly clean, too. So, I think the fans got their money’s worth. Someone’s got to win, someone’s got to lose, but that was a helluva football game.”

The Blue Bombers cranked out their eighth straight win to open a season since the 1960 quad busted out of the starting gate 10-0 with some of their trademark work over the last few years.

Fronted by the gritty work of the offensive line, the Blue Bombers churned out 430 yards net offence, including 160 yards along the ground – and a season-high 110 yards by Brady Oliveira on 15 carries — while Zach Collaos was at his Most Outstanding Player best by completing 22-of-30 for 270 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Nic Demski and Dalton Schoen.

“The offensive line and Brady really set the tone and did a great job and as I say about the receivers every week, they get asked to do a lot in the run game and are physical as hell,” said Collaros. “It made a difference getting into second-and-manageable situations. We were able to execute and stay on the football field.

“I can’t say enough about Nic coming back. Some of the things we ask him to do and seeing certain pressures and reacting and picking up first downs was huge.”

Demski, who had missed four games with an ankle injury, had his first two TDs of the season and finished with a team-high seven receptions for 69, including three second-down conversions.

“It means a lot – that was something I was anxious about, really, just having my confidence back and getting that first catch,” said Demski of returning after a long layoff. “My first target was a drop, so I left some plays out there. But at the end of the day, I made some plays, got my feet under me and I’m just excited to get back out there and go compete next week as well.”

The game – just like the first meeting two weeks ago in Winnipeg – had the feel of a championship title bout, with the two teams again trading shots right to the final whistle.

Remember, too, this is a team that is still without safety Brandon Alexander, was missing his replacement in Malcolm Thompson, along with receivers Greg Ellingson and Carlton Agudosi, centre Michael Couture, linebacker Kyrie Wilson and defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

But, again, as they have done so often the Blue Bombers brought it in the fourth quarter by out-scoring the Stamps 11-3, including Schoen’s sixth TD of the season – and the decisive score – with 3:48 remaining.

Critical in the victory was the work of the big eaters up front and Oliveira, who had four runs of 10 yards or more including a 31-yarder.

“It feels amazing,” said Oliveira. “First, I just want to say, credit to the guys up front. Those big boys came with their ‘A’ game today and they were moving guys up front and allowing me to get to the second level. Showing what I can do when I get to the second level – showing I can break tackles and make people miss and get extra yards after contact – is obviously a great feeling.”

The win doesn’t just keep the Blue Bombers as the CFL’s only unbeaten squad – they are now 25-3 with two Grey Cup wins dating back to late 2019 – but also allows them to already capture the season series with the Stamps.

“1-0, 1-0, 1-0,” said Collaros with a grin when asked to offer a big-picture take on the 8-0 start. “1-0.

“When it mattered guys really stepped up.”

THE BIG MOMENT

The Blue Bombers were trailing 28-25 midway through the fourth quarter when the club put together a seven-yard drive covering 70 yards that was capped by a picturesque 25-yard strike to Schoen that gave them a 32-28 lead.

Winnipeg’s D then forced a two-and-out and put together another scoring drive that was capped by a Marc Lieggho 40-yard field goal. Game, set, season-series match.

THE BIG STAT: 7.4/7.3

The Blue Bombers managed 7.4 yards on first down, putting them in favourable second-down situations. Included in that work was the ground game, which averaged 7.3 yards per run.

GAME BALLS

Offence: Zach Collaros, QB: Tons of candidates here, but the MOP was slinging it, throwing for four TDs and moving around the pocket to deliver decisive passes that also kept the offence on the field.

Defence: Nick Hallett, S: Coach O’Shea said before the game he expected Hallett – making his first CFL start – to be all around the ball, and he was with five tackles and a crucial fourth-quarter knockdown on the Stamps second-last possession.

Special teams: Marc Liegghio, K: Connected on both his field goals – from 40 and 12 yards – and all four converts. He also finished with a 50.8-yard punting average.

NOTABLE

  • The Blue Bombers have been 8-0 to start a season just three times in franchise history – in 1939, 1960 and now 2022.
  • The Blue Bombers are now 5-0 on the road this season with wins in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
  • The Blue Bombers are now 25-2 in games in which Collaros has started, including the two Grey Cup victories.

NEXT: The Blue Bombers wrap up this nutty component of their schedule – a stretch that has them playing five of six games on the road and six games over 32 days – this Thursday in Montreal against the Alouettes.