It was a tale of two teams coming in off of humbling losses. Winnipeg were soundly defeated at home last week 33-18 by the Stampeders while the Eskimos came in off of one their biggest collapses ever, blowing a 25 point lead to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Matt Nichols came in for his first start of the season as Mike O’Shea looked to spark his Bombers offense.
Early on, the change at quarterback was looking like a genius move. The Bombers were able to secure points on the opening drive of the game as Matt Nichols looked sharp behind center for Winnipeg, making key completions on the first drive to Weston Dressler, with one of them being a 39-yard reception to set the offense up at the one-yard line. Andrew Harris was able to run it in for a touchdown, and after the Justin Medlock convert it was 7-0 to Winnipeg. Medlock was able to score a single off of the ensuing kickoff for an 8-0 lead early in the game.
Edmonton stalled for a quick two-and-out on their first drive of the game.
Winnipeg put another long possession up that ended with a 30-yard field goal by Justin Medlock which gave the Bombers an 11-0 lead before the Eskimos had even had a first down. The score would stay that way heading into the second quarter.
Winnipeg quickly added to their lead in the second quarter as they early on nailed 34-yard field goal off of the foot of Justin Medlock for a 14-0 lead.
Edmonton came up short again on their next drive and Winnipeg were able to get points again. Medlock put up a 28-yard field goal for a huge 17-0 lead.
The two teams traded defensive stops for the rest of the quarter, until a late 47-yard Edmonton field goal on the last play of the first half sent the teams to the locker rooms with a 17-3 score line.
After Edmonton punted on their first possession of the first half, the Blue Bombers were able to convert on their first drive, getting yet another good kick from Medlock. His 42-yard field goal giving them a 20-3 lead.
The Eskimos finally responded when Mike Reilly handed it off to Calvin McCarty to finally get major points for Edmonton from two-yards out. After the Sean Whyte conversion the score was 20-10.
The Bombers responded well on their next drive, going down the field with purpose to respond to the Edmonton score. Andrew Harris continued to chew up yards for the Bombers as his 15-yard run set up a 20-yard touchdown pass on the next play by Nichols to Darvin Adams. After the convert the score was 27-10 to the Bombers.
To close out the third quarter, the Eskimos were able to get a 38-yard field goal by Sean Whyte to make it a 27-13 game.
The Eskimos went back to the foot of Whyte for yet another kick to begin the fourth as he put another through the uprights to make it 27-16.
The Bombers defense was locking it down after that, until late in the game. After a 28-yard field goal by Justin Medlock increased the lead to 30-16 desperation set in for the Eskimos.
Mike Reilly was able to put together a touchdown drive, finding Derell Walker for the two-yard score. After the convert it was suddenly a 30-23 game.
Edmonton attempted an onside kick to try and get a last gasp possession but were unsuccessful. Instead, the Bombers recovered the ball to seal a nice road victory.
This was a real character win by the Blue Bombers. Being at 1-4 and also with a big change made at quarterback, the team responded well as the defense played much better and their offense looked invigorated. Nichols had a stellar night behind center, going 26/33 with 304-yards and one touchdown. Andrew Harris also had a big night running the ball as he collected 127-yards in a stellar effort.
The Eskimos have now lost back-to-back games and quarterback Mike Reilly was candid after the game, criticizing his play under center. The team’s defensive marking and play must improve to keep their Grey Cup defense season up and going or there will be more nights like this on the horizon new coach Jason Maas. Mike Reilly went 28/43 with 346-yards and one touchdown.
The Bombers head home to host the Tiger-Cats on August 3 at 8:30pm EST. The Eskimos head to Ottawa to take on the Redblacks on August 6 at 7:00pm EST.