It was certainly a ‘hometown boy makes good’ storyline for running back Brady Oliveira and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Thursday Night at Investors Group Field.
The former Oak Park Raider, getting his first CFL start in place of injured veteran Andrew Harris, carried the ball 22 times for 126 yards and also had one catch for 21 yards in the 19-6 win over the favoured Tiger Cats to earn a CFL Top Performer award for week one of the 2021 season.
Ottawa RedBlacks teammates Avery Williams (14 DT’s) and Abdul Kanneh (two INT’s/102 yard return for a TD and game saving tackle at 1-yard line on the final play of the game) were also honoured for their efforts in the 16-12 upset of the Edmonton Elks.
Oliveira started slowly, being held to zero net yards on his first two carries in the first quarter. But the soon-to-be 24-year-old Winnipegger took the ball seven times and ran for 36 yards in the second quarter, along with his one reception.
After a fairly quiet third quarter – with three carries for 14 yards – Oliveira dominated the final 15 minutes by racking up 76 yards on 10 carries.
Highlighting that memorable quarter of football for the University of North Dakota product was four consecutive “double digit” runs of 10, 15, 13, and 11 yards respectively to open the Blue Bombers’ first offensive possession of the final frame.
Only James Wilder of Edmonton totaled more yards from scrimmage than Oliveira in week one, finishing the Elks’ loss to Ottawa with 89 yards rushing and 72 receiving for 161 yards on the night.
With Andrew Harris’ status uncertain for Friday night’s 7:30 p.m. versus Toronto at IG Field because of a calf injury, it’s likely Oliveira – who was the Blue Bombers’ second round pick (14th overall) in the 2019 CFL Draft – will get another chance to build on the momentum he created from his CFL starting debut.
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