Thanks to a strong second half on Thursday night, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers finished the first half of their 2022 CFL season unbeaten.
Winnipeg scored 28 points in the second half, en route to a 35-20 win over the Montreal Alouettes to move to 9-0 on the season.
Despite throwing three interceptions, Bombers QB Zach Collaros did enough to get his team the win throwing for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The game was tied at 14 heading into the final quarter before the Bombers pulled away.
“Just digging deep and believing in each other and trusting our preparation,” Collaros said of the team’s big fourth quarter. “We said to each other before the game we’re not going to let anything be an excuse, so really happy we were able to pull this one out.”
It was a rough start for the Bombers offence as Collaros was intercepted on the game’s first drive by Als DB Wesley Sutton, giving Montreal great field position. But the home team would be held to a 24-yard David Côté field goal.
With just under a minute to play in the first quarter, Collaros was sacked and fumbled the football and Montreal recovered in Winnipeg territory. As the game moved into the second quarter, Montreal would drive it down to the Winnipeg 5, but the Bombers defence held strong and forced a turnover on downs.
Winnipeg would then go the length of the field and the drive was capped off with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Collaros to Dalton Schoen, who recorded his league-leading seventh receiving touchdown. Both defences held steady for the rest of the quarter to keep it 7-3 at halftime.
Côté would get the Als closer early in the third quarter after drilling a 49-yard field goal, but the Bombers would drive the field again and Collaros found Rasheed Bailey for a five-yard touchdown.
Montreal responded quickly thanks in large part to big plays from receiver Tyson Philpot, a 60-yard kickoff return and a 15-yard receiving touchdown. The Als would cash in the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14.
A 49-yard field goal attempt to put the Als ahead early in the fourth failed as Côté hit the upright, keeping the game tied.
On the next Winnipeg drive, a 41-yard reception by Drew Wolitarsky helped the Bombers get inside the Montreal 5 and QB Dakota Prukop would sneak it in from the one-yard-line and the successful convert made it 21-14.
And then the Bombers iced it later in the fourth as Janarion Grant returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown.
Running back Brady Oliveira scored on a 6-yard run late in the game, capping off a second straight strong game for him in which he rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries.
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea called it a gritty win as the defence came to the rescue during a tough offensive first half.
“The defence shrugs it off, runs out onto the field and says we got your back.,” O’Shea said. “When you got the defence bailing out the offence like that, it’s only a matter of time before the team gets rolling again.”
The Bombers and the Alouettes (2-6) will battle in a rematch next Thursday, August 11 in Winnipeg at IG Field with kickoff set for shortly after 7:30 p.m.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.