Sports: Elks drop 11th straight at home in loss to first-place Bombers

Elks face big challenge taking on unbeaten Bombers in Edmonton

  Elks face big challenge taking on unbeaten Bombers in Edmonton A huge challenge awaits Taylor Cornelius and the Edmonton Elks. Cornelius helped rally the Elks (2-4) to a 32-31 road win over the Montreal Alouettes last week in his first start of the season. But on Friday night, Edmonton faces the unbeaten Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-0). The defending Grey Cup champions are the CFL's lone undefeated team after knocking off previously unbeaten squads in consecutive weeks. Winnipeg dispatched the B.C. Lions 43-22 at B.C. Place Stadium on July 9 before downing the Calgary Stampeders 26-19 at IG Field on Friday night. Winnipeg starter Zach Collaros, the CFL's outstanding player last year, is off to a great start.

If you didn’t see it, Friday’s Edmonton Elks game played out the same as the last 10 held at Commonwealth Stadium.

Edmonton Elks' Hakeem Butler (81) is tackled by Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Demerio Houston (35) during first half CFL football action at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Friday, July 22, 2022. © Provided by Edmonton Sun Edmonton Elks' Hakeem Butler (81) is tackled by Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Demerio Houston (35) during first half CFL football action at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Friday, July 22, 2022.

And you likely didn’t, given it was another less-than-stellar turnout to witness yet another loss at home. The official attendance was 22,716 in the stands for Edmonton’s 11th in a row now, for anyone counting.

Falling 24-10 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who remain the Canadian Football League’s lone undefeated team at 7-0, the Elks were held out of the end zone as they drop to 2-5. They will continue to receive their name in the basement suite of the West Division standings and have a whole bye week ahead of them to reflect on their situation.

STAMPS NOTES: O-line looks for bounce-back against Bombers

  STAMPS NOTES: O-line looks for bounce-back against Bombers Attention to details and execution. The Calgary Stampeders offensive line wasn’t thrilled with the way it played against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers two weeks ago. There were lots of positives, to be sure. The o-line opened up holes that helped Stampeders running back Ka’Deem Carey run for 110 yards, and there were lots of plays where they gave Bo Levi Mitchell time to find receivers downfield. But this is a very strong o-line that had previously allowed only a league-leading four sacks prior to that game.

They didn’t reach the end zone, but the Elks didn’t exactly roll over, either.

Plenty of stats were on Edmonton’s side: A time of possession of 37:14, 357 yards to 274 and 23 first downs to 12. But the scoreboard went decidedly Winnipeg’s way, while they also out-sacked Edmonton 5-0 and won the turnover battle 3-2.

“There’s no consolation prize, we lost by 14 points. We’re not a smart enough or disciplined enough football team to win games when it matters,” said Elks head coach and defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones, who is starting to talk like someone who is seeing the losses pile up. “We had the lead in two games and then this one here, we should have had an opportunity to go win the game and, unfortunately for us, discipline and intelligence is not something we’re strong at right now.”

Redblacks are 0-6, but will be a 'tough opponent' for Argonauts

  Redblacks are 0-6, but will be a 'tough opponent' for Argonauts In six career games against the Ottawa Redblacks, Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson has gone 6-0. The Redblacks play in the 6ix on Sunday, having lost a season-opening six games. MBT needs 93 passing yards from reaching 10,000 in his career. Numbers are of little consequence to the man known as Mac. Truth be told, numbers don’t mean anything to the Argos as well. Teams are what their records say they are, according to that football axiom. In the case of Ottawa, the team hasn’t yet found a way to close out games. In the case of the Argos, they won their season opener when Montreal missed a late field goal attempt.

Trailing 17-10 midway through the fourth quarter, Edmonton was set to get the ball back on a punt, only to see Makana Henry flagged for contacting the kicker to extend a drive that ended in a two-yard run by short-yardage quarterback Dru Brown that put it away for the visitors.

“For me, this was the most highly anticipated game of the season,” said Elks receiver Kenny Lawler, who made seven catches for a team-high 98 yards against a Bombers squad he just won back-to-back Grey Cups with. “I know we’ll get them again. But, yeah, it hurts, man.

“I love the opportunity. I love that our guys were out there fighting. And that’s what it is, I just keep saying it again and again, it’s just finishing.”

Zach Collaros completed just seven of 16 passes for 188 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the visitors, while Taylor Cornelius, in his second start of the season, passed 25 of 42 for 270 yards and an interception, while rushing for a team-high 59 yards on 15 carries.

Unbeaten Blue Bombers win a 35-28 thriller over Stampeders

  Unbeaten Blue Bombers win a 35-28 thriller over Stampeders CALGARY — Zach Collaros kept his composure in a back-and-forth game to keep his Winnipeg Blue Bombers undefeated. Although Winnipeg trailed at four different times during Saturday's CFL game, the star quarterback found a way to lead the Blue Bombers (8-0) to a 35-28 victory over the Calgary Stampeders (4-2) at McMahon Stadium. “That’s Zach Collaros for you,” said receiver Nic Demski, who returned to action after missing the past four games with an ankle injury and caught a pair of touchdown passes from Collaros. “He was MOP (Most Outstanding Player) last year for a reason and he’s making a great case for himself this year as well.

Winnipeg’s Dalton Schoen made the most of his four receptions, earning a game-high 146 yards and a touchdown.

Winnipeg took a 10-3 lead out of the opening quarter, turning an Elks fumble into seven points off an interception by Deatrick Nichols, who plucked a pass intended for Cornelius’s favourite target, Lawler.

While the Elks started the game out by forcing Collaros and Co. to a two-and-out on their opening drive of the game, turning the ball back over to them on Edmonton’s 26 yard-line meant one snap later Rasheed Bailey put the first seven points on the scoreboard.

And that was the difference after the two sides traded field goals, with a 52-yarder by Edmonton’s Sergio Castillo, while a red-zone stop forced Winnipeg to trot out Marc Liegghio for a 20 yarder to give the Bombers a 10-3 lead to open the second quarter.

Following a 44-yard field goal by Castillo to cut Winnipeg’s lead to just four points, Collaros — who came into the game without an interception in his previous 82 pass attempts — was picked off by Tobi Antigha right around midfield.

STAMPS NOTES: Club tries to move on fast following loss to Bombers

  STAMPS NOTES: Club tries to move on fast following loss to Bombers The first time the Calgary Stampeders lost to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season, they had a nine-day bye week to think about their mistakes before getting back to work. For some guys, that was frustrating. Fortunately, it hasn’t been an issue this week. After dropping a second game to the Bombers in a thriller on Saturday night, the Stamps have had little time to lick their wounds. By Monday, they were back on the field doing a walkthrough to prepare for a road game against the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday (5:30 p.m., TSN/770 CHQR). By Tuesday, it was back to practice. It’s just the way they want it.

But it was Winnipeg registering the next score of the game, as Collaros hit Schoen in stride for an 81-yard touchdown that saw him run half of it while eluding a poor tackle attempt by receiver-turned defensive back Duron Carter in his Elks debut.

If the fans weren’t booing after that one, they certainly were after Edmonton decided to kneel out the half with all three downs to go and 31 seconds left on the clock.

Despite trailing in possession 9:20 to 20:40 after two quarters and only leading by 10 yards of net offence, the Bombers took a 17-6 lead into the third quarter.

Edmonton used the first seven minutes of the third quarter to earn a red-zone field goal from 27 yards out, only to see Castillo salvage another point off a short attempt from 48 yards out to trail 17-10.

That’s right when Carter earned back some good will, intercepting a Collaros offering thrown to Schoen. The Bombers quarterback was four-for-12 for 158 yards at that point, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

But the Elks couldn’t turn the second one into points either.

Following the Henry penalty, Edmonton also gifted the Bombers the ball on the doorstep of the goal-line with a defensive pass interference call against Ed Gainey, which Dru Brown punched into the end zone on a QB keeper to go ahead 24-10 with 2:42 left to play.

It was a reversal of fortunes from a week ago, where Edmonton earned a total of 108 penalty yards off of defensive pass interference against Montreal.

As if on cue, Winnipeg drew a 10-yard accidental pass interference penalty by Demerio Houston on a ball intended for Caleb Holley in the end zone, but the Elks drive ended in a turnover on downs.

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On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

Bryan Burnham returns as B.C. Lions take on struggling Edmonton Elks .
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