Bombers stay unbeaten, win Grey Cup rematch over Tiger-Cats

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Nic Demski (10) gets tackled by Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Kameron Kelly (11) and Simoni Lawrence (21) during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg. THE CANADIAN PRESS / John Woods

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers got the best of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats yet again Friday night.

The Blue moved to 3-0 on the season as they defeated the Tabbies 26-12 at IG Field.

The Tiger-Cats drop to 0-3 on the season, as they were defeated again by a Bombers club that knocked them off in the last two Grey Cups.

The Bombers defence gave the opposition fits, allowing 269 yards and holding Hamilton out of the end zone. Winnipeg picked off Hamilton QB Dane Evans twice and added a sack.

The defence has allowed just one touchdown in three games this season.

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“It was a good night. A good night at the office,” smiled defensive end Willie Jefferson.

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“Offence, defence, special teams came out and did what we needed to do to get the win.”

Fans commuting to IG Field enjoyed quite the lightning show as black clouds covered the stadium well after the game’s original start time of 7:30 p.m.

The game was delayed due to a severe thunderstorm warning and got underway just after 8 p.m.

On Winnipeg’s first offensive play of the game, Zach Collaros hit Greg Ellingson on a deep post route for a 46-yard gain.

“I really do think they’re a great football team. I don’t care what their record says,” Bombers’ quarterback Zach Collaros said after the win.

“They’re going to be there at the end, for sure. Both teams have a mutual respect for each other. At the same time, we don’t like each other very much because we have played in some big games the last couple of seasons.”

Read more: Winnipeg Blue Bombers cleaning up mistakes ahead of Grey Cup rematch with Ticats

The drive stalled just two plays later, but thanks to the big gain, Marc Liegghio was able to drill a 45-yard field through the uprights for a 3-0 Bombers lead.

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Upon Winnipeg getting the ball back, Collaros elected to toss another deep shot, this time to Rasheed Bailey for 35 yards.

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The drive ended with another successful Liegghio boot and made it 6-0 Bombers with 5:31 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Hamilton offence finally woke up on the following drive as Dane Evans connected with David Ungerer on a 41-yard strike.

A few plays later, Hamilton cut the deficit in half with a Michael Domagala 27-yard field goal, making it 6-3 Winnipeg after 1.

Read more: Hamilton Tiger-Cats search for first win in Winnipeg

The first scoring play of the second quarter was another Domagala three-pointer, his second of the night from 49 yards out.

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Winnipeg’s next possession ended with Liegghio sending a 48-yard punt across the goal line for the game’s first rouge and it was 7-6 Bombers.

Evans and the Ticat offence sputtered instantly, going three-and-out twice in a row.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans (9) gets the throw away despite pressure from Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Willie Jefferson (5) and Jackson Jeffcoat (94) during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg, Friday, June 24, 2022. JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS. THE CANADIAN PRESS / John Woods

The Bombers couldn’t get much going either as Collaros and company went three-and-out for the first time of the evening on the team’s 6th offensive drive.

Hamilton positioned Domagala for another makeable field goal from 45-yards out, but the kicker missed wide right. Janarion Grant barely scrambled out across the goal line to avoid handing over a single point.

On the very next play from Winnipeg’s one-yard-line, Collaros threw a pass that landed in the arms of Hamilton’s Richard Leonard. The Ticats took over at the Blue Bomber 27 on the game’s first turnover.

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The Bomber defence held steady, forcing yet another Domagala field goal attempt. His fourth boot of the night split the uprights from a distance of 32 yards giving his team their first lead of the night, 9-7.

With less than a minute remaining in the half, Collaros threw up a 40-yard prayer to Nic Demski who was hauled down at the Hamilton one-yard-line with just 21 seconds left on the clock.

On the following play, Brady Oliveira punched it in up the middle for the first major score of the ball game. The touchdown was Oliveira’s first of the season and third of his CFL career.

The last second score gave Winnipeg a 14-9 lead as the two teams took to the locker room for halftime.

Bad news for the Bombers on the opening drive of the second half as Nic Demski remained on the turf for several minutes after a hit from Richard Leonard. Demski secured a 10-yard grab for a first down, but had to be escorted to the sideline by Winnipeg’s training staff and would not return to the game.

The drive ended with a 51-yard Liegghio punt for another single and it was 15-9 for the home team.

After another scoreless Hamilton drive, the Bombers quickly obtained solid field position with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter.

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros’ (8) throw gets knocked down by Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Jovan Santos-Knox (45) during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg, Friday, June 24, 2022. JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS. THE CANADIAN PRESS / John Woods

Collaros chucked a pass 30 yards downfield inside the Ticat 10 yard line intended for Rasheed Bailey in tight coverage. Bailey immediately threw his arms up in the air looking for a pass interference call but no flags were thrown.

Liegghio eventually trotted out for a successful 41-yard field goal. His third made field goal of the night gave Winnipeg a 18-9 lead.

Hamilton tried to respond just minutes later, but Domagala missed his second boot of the game from 51 yards out. Grant scurried out of the end zone once again for a 21-yard return.

The third quarter came to end as Collaros fired a 16-yard slant to Drew Wolitarsky.

After a Liegghio punt to begin the final quarter, Willie Jefferson came up clutch with his first sack of the season on Dane Evans. The tackle forced Hamilton to punt from their own 20-yard-line.

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The next time Hamilton’s offence touched the ball, it didn’t go smoothly either.

Jefferson picked off Evans and went straight back to the house for a 30-yard pick six giving the Bombers a 25-9 lead with eight minutes left.

The official attendance was announced at 23,600.

The Blue Bombers will hit the road for two straight beginning next Monday in Toronto against the Argonauts, They’ll head west after that for a July 9 date with the B.C. Lions.

The Bombers then return to IG Field for a Friday night showdown with the Calgary Stampeders on July 15.

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