August 25, 2022

Game Recap | CGY 29 WPG 31

1st Half - Nic Demski 10 touchdown celebration

Let the history books show that the 400th home win in the long and storied history of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was another absolutely perfect advertisement for three-down football.

And an important sidebar to that historic home-win accomplishment, a first in the Canadian Football League: Battered, bruised and pushed to the limit – again – by the Calgary Stampeders, the Blue Bombers once again flashed their Grey Cup championship pedigree when it mattered most in rallying from a one-point deficit after three quarters to a dramatic 31-29 victory.

The result, coming in front of 30,062 on a pristine night at IG Field, improves the club to 10-1, while the Stamps drop to 6-4 – with the Blue Bombers authoring three of those losses.

“I would say it’s probably not a classic in terms of when the coaches (will) watch it,” began head coach Mike O’Shea with a grin in his post-game media conference, “but for the CFL fans I don’t think anybody can argue about that. That was one helluva game for the audience.”

The Blue Bombers and Stamps served up their third spectacular performance of the season Thursday night – the three tilts decided by a total of 16 points – in a game that was again part track meet, part street fight.

Already missing a handful of starters in receiver Greg Ellingson, centre Michael Couture, linebacker Kyrie Wilson, safety Brandon Alexander – as well as his replacement Malcolm Thompson – along with ace kick returner Janarion Grant, the Blue Bombers also finished the game without starting corner Demerio Houston and running back Brady Oliveira, while defensive back Patrice Rene, who was playing in his first game, had to be carted off the field in the first half.

Yet their replacements – and the regulars who survived – stepped up to deliver in a clutch fourth quarter.

Zach Collaros finished the night 19-of-26 for 294 yards and TD strikes to Greg McCrae and Nic Demski, but also had two passes picked off in the end zone. And while Calgary starter Jake Maier sliced and diced the Bombers defence with three TD passes to Malik Henry and 294 yards passing – he also had a stretch in the first half where he completed 15 straight passes – the defence limited him to just two completions in four attempts for 18 yards in their fourth quarter rally.

Included in that was an eight-play drive at the end of the game by the Blue Bombers that took the remaining 2:18 off the clock and prevented the Stamps offence from getting back on the field.

“Two great organizations, two great teams,” said Collaros. “I thought we showed a lot of resiliency. I put us in a couple bad spots and the entire team picked me up, picked the offence up. We did it out there in the end, scored some touchdowns in the second half. And it’s always nice to stay on the field and end the game like that.”

Winnipeg got some significant contributions from Demski, who had eight receptions for 117 yards and the TD and another 36 yards rushing on three carries, while McCrae had 12 yards rushing on two caries and 95 yards receiving on five catches, including a superb 41-yard TD with a defender draped all over him.

Defensively, the Blue Bombers were paced by Donald Rutledge, Jr’s 10 tackles, while Jamal Parker did a solid job replacing Houston after he was injured in the first quarter. An example of the contributions from all over the roster: veteran Shayne Gauthier registered the Blue Bombers only sack with a critical take down of Maier on second down with less than six minutes remaining

“We had a few mistakes on offence, defence and special teams, but at the end of the day we did the majority of the stuff right – we did enough right, I guess you could say,” said Demski. “There’s still some stuff to get back to the drawing board about and watch some film and correct, but at the end of the day just has a lot of fight in it. We don’t stop until the final whistle, and we showed that and put it on tape tonight.”


In a game with a ton of big moments, let’s rewind to near the end. The Blue Bombers took to the field at their own 31-yard line and protecting their two-point lead with 2:18 remaining in the game. Collaros connected with McCrae for six yards on a second-and-five and then with Demski for nine yards on a second-and-eight. On top of that, Augustine rumbled for 14 yards on a second and six.

THE BIG STAT: 16-of-21 (76%)

Related to the above – Winnipeg converted 16 of 21 second-down situations, for a whopping 76% success rate. That’s an astonishing number against a Calgary defence that had entered the game with the third-best numbers in those scenarios at just 45 percent.


Offence: Nic Demski, SB: Finished with 153 yards from scrimmage – 117 receiving, 36 rushing – and picked up his third touchdown in two games against the Stamps this year (he missed the first meeting).

Defence: Donald Rutledge, Jr., LB: The Bombers defence was in chase mode for most of three quarters, but the rookie linebacker had 10 tackles and a tackle for a loss.

Special teams: Marc Liegghio, K: On a night in which he was big-time under the microscope, he hammered his one field goal from 32 yards, hit all four converts and averaged 42.5 yards on two punts.


The Blue Bombers won all three games against the Stamps this year, marking the first time they have won a season series against Calgary since 2002 and the first time they have won a three-game set since 1987.


Each of the last nine meetings between Calgary and Winnipeg have been decided by eight points or less, with the Blue Bombers holding a 7-2 advantage.


Collaros moved past Joe Kapp on the CFL’s all-time passing yardage list and is now tied with Calgary coach Dave Dickenson for 25th spot with 22,913 yards through the air .

NEXT: The Blue Bombers are in Regina for the annual Labour Day Classic – now officially sold out – on Sunday, September 4th. Kickoff is 5 p.m. CDT.