Bombers shut down Elks for 6th straight win
WINNIPEG — The league-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers remained perfect at home and earned their fifth straight win with a 30-3 victory over the Edmonton Elks on Friday night to kick off Thanksgiving weekend.
The Bombers improved to 8-1 for the first time since 1960 and are now 5-0 at IG Field this season.
Winnipeg led 11-3 at halftime following a pair of safeties and a touchdown catch by Nic Demski. Edmonton’s defence forced a pair of redzone turnovers to keep the game close in the first half.
The Elks conceded their third safety while backed up in their own end in the third quarter, but multiple missed field goals by Winnipeg allowed Edmonton to remain within striking distance.
Andrew Harris helped secure the victory with his second and third rushing touchdowns of the season. He ran for a season-high 150 yards on 24 carries for his first 100-yard rushing performance since Winnipeg’s 2019 Grey Cup victory.
CFL passing leader Zach Collaros completed 16-of-27 passes for 207 yards, while Demski finished with a game-high 79 receiving yards on five catches.
Winnipeg’s stingy defence held Edmonton to just 74 net yards in the first half and only surrendered 11 first downs throughout the entire game. The Bombers also forced three turnovers on downs and have yet to give up a fourth-quarter touchdown this season.
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Elks quarterback Trevor Harris was nearly picked off on his very first pass of the game, but DeAundre Alford bobbled the would-be interception before it fell to the ground.
The Bombers moved the ball all the way down to the goal line on their first offensive possession, but Edmonton’s defensive front stepped up to prevent Winnipeg from breaking the plane on three straight rush attempts.
Andrew Harris was stuffed on first-and-goal before Sean McGuire was stopped on consecutive QB sneaks to force the turnover on downs.
Winnipeg’s defence applied major pressure with the Elks’ offence backed up at their one-yard line, and Edmonton’s Hugh O’Neill would concede a safety instead of punting it on third down after the offence failed to gain any breathing room.
Winnipeg proceeded to move down the field once again after getting the ball back, with McGuire picking up a pair of key second-down conversions on the ground to sustain momentum.
Collaros completed passes to Darvin Adams and Rasheed Bailey on the drive before capping it off with an impressive 16-yard touchdown toss to Demski to extend the lead. Collaros got the throw off while evading pressure from edge rusher Mathieu Betts on the play, and Ali Mourtada booted the ensuing extra point to put Winnipeg up 9-0.
Winnipeg’s defence held the Elks to just two rushing yards in the first quarter while also preventing Harris from completing a pass.
O’Neill surrendered another safety for Edmonton early in the second quarter after another Winnipeg defensive stop prevented the Elks from escaping their own end. The Elks had started with unfavourable field position once again after Winnipeg’s punt coverage unit brought down returner Terry Williams at the four-yard line.
The Bombers were in position to score another touchdown on the following drive after Collaros connected with Demski for gains of 21 and 27 yards to move the ball into Edmonton territory. But the Elks’ defence came up with another big redzone stop when safety Jordan Hoover intercepted Collaros in the end zone as he attempted to complete a pass to Adams in tight coverage.
Hoover returned the pick 70 yards before being tackle by Harris, and it led to a 32-yard field goal by Sean Whyte that cut Winnipeg’s lead down to eight points entering halftime.
The Bombers forced a special teams turnover near the start of the third quarter when Deatrick Nichols broke through to block O’Neill’s punt. Johnny Augustine then beat O’Neill to secure possession of the ball, falling on it to set up solid field position at Edmonton’s 32-yard line.
But the Elks’ defence forced an incompletion on second down to shut the ensuing drive down, and Winnipeg settled for a 24-yard field goal by Mourtada to go up 14-3.
Mourtada missed a 47-yard field goal attempt later in the third quarter, but it resulted in another long field for the Elks’ offence after an illegal block on the return placed the ball at their own four-yard line. Harris was brought down for a sack two plays later by Casey Sayles, and O’Neill would then go on to concede his third safety on third down.
Mourtada went on to miss a 46-yard field goal attempt, but this time it was downed in the end zone by Edmonton to concede the single — putting Winnipeg up 17-3 entering the fourth quarter.
Winnipeg’s defence forced another turnover on downs when Adam Bighill prevented Harris from converting a third down on a rushing attempt.
Taylor Cornelius took over at quarterback for Edmonton, but the Bombers’ defence forced another turnover on downs. Winnipeg then proceeded to surge down the field with a five-play, 52-yard scoring drive.
Bailey hauled in a 23-yard catch that set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Harris, but Mourtada’s extra point attempt went wide and left the Bombers with a 23-3 lead with under 10 minutes remaining.
Jake Thomas sacked Cornelius to force another turnover on downs in the final minutes. Harris then added a two-yard rushing score on a drive that saw him pick up 42 yards on four carries, with Mourtada’s extra point making it a 30-3 game.
Alford closed the game out by intercepting a Cornelius pass intended for Derel Walker.
Both teams will face off again next Friday when Edmonton hosts Winnipeg at Commonwealth Stadium at 9 p.m. ET.