Justin Medlock leads Winnipeg Blue Bombers past Hamilton Tiger-Cats
HAMILTON – Justin Medlock is still trying to figure out the dynamics of Tim Hortons Field.
The Winnipeg kicker made six field goals, including a 57-yarder, to lead the Blue Bombers past the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 39-12 on Saturday night.
“It seems the last couple times I’ve been here, it’s been a little iffy,” Medlock said. “I hit every ball really well today. Unfortunately, I hit the post on one and got that one block, but I hit it really, really well today so I’m glad I could help the team out.”
Medlock was a Tiger-Cat when the stadium opened in September 2014 and played the full 2015 season in Hamilton when he led the CFL in scoring.
The 33-year-old was good on attempts from 34, 31, 30, 43, 57 and 34 yards, but missed from 43 when the ball hit the upright and 45 when it was blocked. Medlock added three converts.
Winnipeg quarterback Matt Nichols completed 25-of-35 pass attempts for 267 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Nichols connected with Julian Feoli-Gudino and Darvin Adams for the TDs while Timothy Flanders ran in a score. Running back Andrew Harris rushed 14 times for 107 yards.
It was the Bombers’ third win in a row as they improved to 5-2.
“I thought we did play a pretty smart game,” said Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea. “I thought we managed the clock extremely well. I thought we played clean in terms of giveaways, takeaways and the penalties.
“I don’t care what their record is, it’s still tough to win games in this league,” he said.
Hamilton fell to 0-7 despite hiring June Jones as an assistant head coach last week and a promoting Phillip Lolley to defensive co-ordinator on Tuesday.
Jeremiah Masoli and Damarr Aultman scored for the Ticats. Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros completed 21-of-33 pass attempts for 216 yards, one TD and one interception.
Down 22-12 to start the fourth, Hamilton’s offence had just scored and was moving the ball again near midfield when Collaros fumbled. Hamilton recovered for third-and-long, but the offence sputtered.
Winnipeg answered with Medlock’s 34-yarder. A Hamilton fumble by receiver Mike Jones on its next possession led to a Winnipeg 53-yard scoring drive and Adams’ 35-yard TD reception for the 32-12 lead. A Collaros interception began Winnipeg’s 58-yard scoring drive that ate 3:48 and ended with a one-yard TD run by Flanders to make it 39-12 with 24 seconds left.
“There are always three or four possessions in a game that can completely flip a game,” said Hamilton head coach Kent Austin. “And the game got away from us. We’ve got to find a way to win those possessions.”
Medlock kicked his first three field goals in the first quarter to give the Blue Bombers a 9-0 lead.
The Hamilton offence got going in the second quarter with a scoring drive of 85 yards on eight plays with the wind. A 28-yard reception by CJ Gable to the Winnipeg 30 highlighted the drive that finished with back-up quarterback Masoli diving in from the one-yard-line. A two-point convert attempt was incomplete and the score was 9-6.
Medlock’s first miss came on the next Winnipeg drive when his 43-yard FG attempt against the wind hit the right upright. But when Hamilton went two-and-out on the next possession, he came right back five plays later and nailed a 43-yarder for the 12-6 lead.
Gable fumbled a lateral on the next Hamilton play and Winnipeg’s Jake Thomas recovered the ball on the Hamilton 36, leading to a four-play scoring drive, a six-yard TD reception by Feoli-Gudino, and a 19-6 Blue Bomber lead that held into halftime.
To open the third, Winnipeg could only move the ball 19 yards, but that was enough for Medlock to hit a 57-yard field goal with the wind that stretched the lead to 22-6. But his 45-yard attempt on the next possession was blocked by Hamilton’s Don Unamba.
Hamilton took over on their 43 and looked to be creating some momentum when Jones mishandled a pass and Winnipeg linebacker Sam Hurl recovered the loose ball and rumbled 62 yards to the endzone. But the play was ruled an incomplete pass and Hamilton continued to drive. Three plays later, Collaros hit Aultman for a 29-yard catch-and-run TD. The missed two-point convert made it 22-12.