Bombers Whip Calgary, Will Host Playoff Game
CALGARY, AB. — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will play host to their first playoff game since 2011.
Friday night in front of a sparse crowd in the middle of a snow storm at McMahon Stadium, the Bombers whipped the Calgary Stampeders 23-5 to finished 12-6 and wrap up homefield advantage in the Western Conference semifinal.
The Bombers will face the winner of Saturday’s game between Edmonton and Saskatchewan. The loser will become the crossover team in the East. Fact is, there might be an easier path to the Grey Cup by losing on Saturday.
On Friday night, neither the Bombers or Stampeders started their No. 1 quarterbacks. Bo Levi Mitchell was rested by Calgary coach Dave Dickenson, as Canadian Andrew Buckley drew the start. Meanwhile, Bombers coach Mike O’Shea elected to keep the banged-up Matt Nichols out of the game and started Dan LeFevour in his place.
Neither starting quarterback did much of anything.
The Bombers led 23-0 at halftime on three field goals by Justin Medlock and two defensive touchdowns – Brandon Alexander picked off a Buckley pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown and then Ian Wild sacked Buckley, forced a fumble and Tristan Okpalaugo took it 52 yards into the Calgary end zone.
And that was pretty much it. Calgary, who has lost three in a row, got a field goal and a safety in the second half to make the final score 23-5.
Andrew Harris was the story of the game. Harris carried eight times for 68 tough yards and caught five passes for 28 more tough years. Harris finished the season with 1,035 yards and won the CFL rushing title. Harris also set the single season record for passes caught by a runningback with 103.
LeFevour completed 13-of-17 passes for 91 yards. Winnipeg had 235 yards of total offence. Calgary had a measly 223. The Bombers sacked Buckley and No. 3 Calgary QB Ricky Stanzi seven times.
“We wanted to bring a home playoff game back to Winnipeg,” said Okpalaugo. “We focused on playing our best and making sure we brought a home playoff game back for our fans. It was a big win.”
The Bombers will play again next Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. CT at Investors Group Field. They’ll face either the Riders or Eskies but we won’t know until Saturday night.
—Scott Taylor, MyToba News
Photo – Jeff Miller, MyToba Sports