He was facing an inspired Hamilton defence that after being criticized throughout the year, came up with one of the most impressive efforts in recent memory, shutting out the Edmonton Eskimos in the final three quarters in last week’s dominant 51-8 victory at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
But Pierce hung in, especially in the second half and led an offence with 288 yards and a touchdown on 21 of 31 passing.
The contest also marked a milestone for the entire Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization who participated in their 1,000th CFL game.
Pierce would shake off the rust of eight weeks off on his second drive when he followed up a 13-yard catch-and-run to Simpson, with a 37-yard bomb to veteran WR Terrence Edwards to set up a 15-yard Justin Palardy field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
The Tiger-Cats would answer two possessions later when Luca Congi made good on a 37-yard field goal attempt with a swirling wind in front of him.
In Pierce’s previous two seasons with the Bombers he had leaned on Edwards as his go-to target and would continue to do so in his first game back. Edwards’ 14-yard snag on a slant pattern set up another Palardy field goal, from 28 yards out, at the beginning of the second quarter.
Edwards would move into fourth place on the Bombers’ all-time receiving list by the time the night was through when he passed the 6,296 mark.
The Ticats would take over after the ensuing kickoff but on their first play from scrimmage, sophomore linebacker Henoc Muamba would force a fumble, on Andy Fantuz, and the Bombers would take over just inside Hamilton territory.
Muamba was a force for the Bombers on defence, finishing with four tackles, a forced fumble and one quarterback sack.
Forcing turnovers was the key to Winnipeg’s success in the last meeting between these two clubs, in a 32-25 Bombers victory back on August 16th.
They would settle for another Palardy field goal. Hamilton would answer with one of their own when Congi hit a 39-yarder on the strength of a 34-yard reception from WR Onrea Jones.
The two teams would enter halftime with Winnipeg leading 9-6.
Pierce finished the first half 10 of 16 for 122 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Simpson was Pierce’s biggest weapon in the first half, generating 68 combined yards on 12 touches (10 carries, 2 receptions).
The Tiger-Cats offence started off the second half on the right foot when Burris found Sam Giguere down field for a 31-yard gain, setting up another Congi field goal, from 16 yards out, to tie the game at 9.
The Bombers would lay claim to the first major of the game when backup QB Alex Brink bounced outside for a 1-yard touchdown in short yardage to give Winnipeg a 16-9 lead. One of their most impressive series’ of the season, Pierce led a 7-play 93-yard drive to give the Bombers one of the most important touchdowns of their season.
Buck is Back For Bombers
Buck Pierce got in a groove in the second half and finished the night with 288 yards and a touchdown on 21 of 31 passing.
The Tiger-Cats would chip into the lead on their next possession when Congi added another field goal to cut the lead to 16-12.
Winnipeg picked up where they left off as Pierce led another productive drive with help from his workhorse tailback, Chad Simpson. Simpson’s runs of 9, 30 and 18, not only put him up over the century mark for the game but set the Bombers up inside the five yard line.
The Ticats defence held strong, holding the Bombers’ two attempts and forcing them to boot an 11-yard Palardy field goal. The Bombers would remain on top 19-12.
The Bombers defence would come up with a stop of their own and then Simpson went back to work. Headlined by a 34-yard romp by the rookie tailback, the Bombers took their biggest lead of the game when Pierce found sophomore WR Kito Poblah for a 7-yard touchdown pass.
Poblah’s TD, his first of his career, capped off an 8-play 71-yard drive and marked Winnipeg’s first passing touchdown since August 16th.
The Bombers would put the game out of reach with under 2 minutes remaining when RB Will Ford, spelling Simpson, busted through for 17 yards for a touchdown and a 33-12 lead.
Next Week for Winnipeg: The Bombers continue at home as they welcome Ricky Ray and the Toronto Argonauts to town for a Saturday evening affair. BUY TICKETS.
Next Week for Hamilton: The Ticats return home to take on the Montreal Alouettes at Ivor Wynne Stadium. BUY TICKETS.