August 19, 2023

Game Recap | WPG 19 CGY 18

Calgary Stampeders' T.J Rayam (99) closes in on Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Dru Brown (6) as he looks for the pass during second half CFL football action in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

CALGARY – It lacked the dramatics of last week’s come-from-behind rally and all the storylines that accompanied it. And it most certainly featured more than its share of drops, penalties, and miscues.

So, call the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ 19-18 victory over the Calgary Stampeders in front of 20,106 fans at a chilly McMahon Stadium a Midsummer Night’s Mudder. And remember this, too: there’s an old saying in football that a win is a win is a win.

Backed by a stifling defence – including more magic from cornerback Demerio Houston – and just enough offence from Dru Brown & Co. the Blue Bombers opened the second half of their Canadian Football League schedule with a critical road win that helps keep them atop the West Division, now with an 8-2 record.

“Those games can be frustrating at times in the midst of it, but those games are inevitable,” said Brown, who threw for 171 yards in earning his first career win in his second career start. “We talk about it every week – winning looks different every week. Sometimes it’s running the ball a bunch, sometimes it’s throwing the ball a bunch for a bunch of yards. So, it’s kind of cool you see the contrast between the two weeks.”

“Is it more or less fun? It doesn’t matter because if you win that’s all that matters. I think it’s important for everybody, including myself to understand some games are going to be like that. You’ve got external factors that play into things in the game and you just kind of roll with them. I think it’s a good lesson for all of us and it’s cool to see our defence pick us up on multiple occasions.”

The only TD of the game – not surprisingly given windy and chilly conditions – came on defence and in a critical moment. Trailing 12-9, Houston stepped in front of a Jake Maier pass and returned it 45 yards for the Pick 6, giving the Blue Bombers a lead they would not relinquish.

“That was definitely a big one,” said Houston, who was clutching the ball from the interception like a prized trophy. “First career interception (for a touchdown) in a tight ball game where we needed to make a play… that’s one for the books for me.”

“That was a big-time play at a big-time moment,” said Deatrick Nichols. “He kept his head up. That’s a part of the game. You give up stuff, the plays keep going and you’ve just got to hit them with the haymaker.

“You’ve got to keep throwing your punches. That was a boxing match. Let them catch their jabs and then hit them with the haymaker and that’s what he did.”

More from our view in the press box at McMahon…


The Blue Bombers held a 19-18 lead with 59 seconds left and were facing a third-and-two situation at their own 17-yard line when head coach Mike O’Shea opted to gamble rather than punt from deep in their own end.

Dakota Prukop then rushed for three yards to see the deal, as Dru Brown kneeled down three times to run out the clock.

“That one’s easy,” said O’Shea. “We’ve talked about that for six-plus years, making sure that our guys know we’re going to call them out. I mean, they wanted us to go for a couple of those third-and-twos instead of punting. This was the right time. You get that you take knees. You don’t get it… if you were to punt there anyway you were punting in field-goal range. No matter how good a punt we get it’s into the wind, they’re going to get a couple of yards on the return and they’re basically in field goal range with the wind behind them.”


Making his second career start and first since rallying the Bombers from a 22-nil hole last week in Edmonton, Brown completed his first three passes of the game in leading the club to an early field goal, but then had to battle for every completion after that.

Overall, he finished the night 17 of 27 for 171 yards with no TDs or interceptions, but was effective enough to help his team get the ‘W.’

“It’s awesome to get a win,” he said. “But this was a very frustrating game at times in not just being able to sustain drives very frequently. I’m not going to base my decision of how it went off my emotion right now. I’m going to watch the tape, but you’ve got to feel good coming on the road and getting an ugly win. It is what it is. Winning is really hard at this level, so any time you can get ‘em, you’ll take ‘em.”


Calgary’s Rene Paredes provided all of the Stamps scoring, kicking six field goals, but also missing twice. Sergio Castillo, meanwhile, was good on all four of his attempts, from 18, 24, 26 and 42.

“I want every kick to be a game winner,” said Castillo. “As a specialist you’ve got to crave those moments. It’s just like those closers in baseball. You’re there to close the game. I just want to make sure I keep doing my part and keep chipping away, whether it’s a short or long field goal.”


The Blue Bombers picked up two wins over the last two weeks in a province that was long a graveyard for this franchise. And any win over a Dave Dickenson squad means that much more given the respect the club has for his crew. Asked if he felt the game felt like ‘typical Bomber football’, O’Shea said:

“No. It didn’t feel like it on the sideline, honestly. It felt like we were wasting a trip almost. But two points… we’ll take it and get out of here.

“Divisional opponent who we think very highly of. They’ve been the class of the league for a long time, and they still have that aura about them. You’ve got to come and play. You can’t just show up.”


Houston’s interception, his seventh of the season, was critical as the game’s only touchdown and a rallying point for the Blue Bombers.


The Blue Bombers defence did not allow a touchdown and limited the Stamps to just 245 yards net offence, including just 61 yards along the ground.


Brady Oliveira, RB: Rushed 14 times for 80 yards and pulled in three passes for another 23.


Their back-to-back Alberta road trips in the rear-view mirror, the Blue Bombers now return home to face the Montreal Alouettes next Thursday, the 24th, followed by the annual Labour Day Classic/Banjo Bowl doubleheader with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on September 3rd and 9th.