WINNIPEG — Matt Nichols set a franchise record with 19 straight completions as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rolled to a 31-1 home victory against the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Friday night. The Bombers improved their record to 5-0 for the first time since 1960.
Defensive back Winston Rose got things going for Winnipeg with a pick-six in the first quarter, and the offence took over from there with Nichols completing 25 of 29 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns. Nichols connected on 86 per cent of his passes.
Running back Andrew Harris moved into 11th place on the CFL’s all-time rushing list in the win, finishing the game with 63 rushing yards on 14 carries while also adding 68 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches. Quarterback Chris Streveler also contributed 35 rushing yards and a touchdown for the Bombers.
Kenny Lawler led Winnipeg’s receivers with five catches for 83 yards and his first career CFL touchdown.
John Crockett had a solid rushing performance for the REDBLACKS with 15 carries for 88 yards.
It was an uncharacteristically slow start to the game for the Bombers’s offence with three consecutive two-and-outs, but Winnipeg’s defence stepped up in the opening quarter to give the team an early lead. Rose used brilliant timing to jump a route and intercept a Jennings pass before returning it 71 yards to the end zone for the pick-six score. Rose now has an interception in three straight games. Justin Medlock kicked the convert to give Winnipeg a 7-0 advantage.
Ottawa got on the board near the end of the first quarter when a 75-yard punt from Richie Leone went out of bounds for a single, but the Bombers responded right away on offence with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that saw Nichols complete a 20-yard strike to Lawler and a 15-yard touchdown pass to Harris. The versatile running back found space behind the REDBLACKS’ coverage to get open in the right side of the end zone for the catch. Medlock added the extra point to put Winnipeg up 14-1.
The Bombers added to their first-half lead when Lawler came through with another key play, hauling in a 24-yard pass from Nichols and gaining an extra 30 yards to reach the end zone for the score. Medlock kicked the extra point to make it a 21-1 ball game. Nichols finished the first half with 192 passing yards and two touchdowns on 14 completions.
Crockett had a solid first half on the ground for the REDBLACKS with 12 carries for 80 yards, but the offence struggled to move the ball through the air against Winnipeg’s relentless defensive pressure and tight coverage.
Harris added more yards just before the half with a 34-yard gallop down the field that set up a two-yard rushing touchdown from Streveler. Streveler faked the handoff to Harris before accelerating around the right edge of Ottawa’s defence for his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. Medlock added the convert to put the Bombers up 28-1 heading into half time.
Ottawa’s defence had a solid goal line stand in the third quarter to shut down Winnipeg’s attempt to extend its lead after a long drive. Receiver Daniel Petermann put the Bombers in position to score after catching a short pass and taking the ball to the one-yard line, but REDBLACKS linebacker Jerod Fernandez came up with a big defensive stop on third down to prevent Streveler from scoring another touchdown.
But Streveler helped the Bombers extend their lead in the fourth quarter by putting the team in field goal range with a big 24-yard gain on the ground. Medlock knocked the 33-yard field goal through the uprights to give Winnipeg a 30-point advantage with just under 12 minutes to play.
Will Arndt finished the game at quarterback for Ottawa in relief of Jennings, but the Bombers’ defence sealed the victory for good when defensive back Chris Humes intercepted an Arndt pass in the end zone with just over a minute to go.
The Ottawa REDBLACKS will host the Calgary Stampeders next Thursday in Week 7 action, while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will travel on the road to square off against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats next Friday.
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