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.
CALGARY — Zach Collaros kept his composure in a back-and-forth game to keep his Winnipeg Blue Bombers undefeated. © Provided by The Canadian Press
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.
Stampers-Blue Bombers rematch highlights weekend CFL schedule
CALGARY — Two weeks after Calgary had its season-opening winning streak snapped by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Stampeders get a chance to return the favour. In what sets up the marquee game of the CFL schedule to date, Winnipeg (7-0) will put its unbeaten record on the line at McMahon Stadium on Saturday in a showdown against a hungry Calgary team (4-1) coming off a bye week. "It's a big deal because we're playing the No. 1 team in the standings, and we want to be No. 1," said Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. "Our biggest thing is if we can take them down a notch, it helps us get to first place and possibly get the bye at the end of the year.
“When he (Zach) looks you in the eyes and you know it’s your time, that just means the world. I love him leading this team and he does a great job of doing it.”
Collaros completed 22 of 30 passes for 270 yards and also threw a pair of touchdown passes to Dalton Schoen.
“He’s so smart and you couple that with his athleticism and his vision,” said Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea, who commended Collaros for staying calm under pressure to keep drives alive. “He’s got unreal vision that allows him to do those things, for sure.”
With Winnipeg trailing 28-25 in the fourth quarter, Collaros engineered a seven-play, 70-yard drive that he finished by throwing a 25-yard pass to Schoen in the end zone.
“We were kind of scrambling to get up and get set,” said Collaros when asked to describe his game-winning TD. “Dalton was telling me all game, ‘Hey, I think I can slip this guy.’ I threw it and I was kind of worried a little bit … that the safety was going to make a play. I didn’t really see the catch, but I’m sure he made a great fundamental catch.”
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.
Marc Liegghio kicked two field goals and a single for the Bombers, who will look to keep their winning streak alive when they travel to Montreal to face the Alouettes next Thursday.
Ka’Deem Carey ran for a pair of touchdowns for the Stampeders. They were the first two rushing scores that the Bombers’ defence had allowed this season.
“Unfortunately, they made more plays,” said Calgary coach Dave Dickenson. “It was back and forth. We had our chances, but we didn’t get any stops. We didn’t make the plays.
“I’m not down at all on our players. I know they love to play the game. We’ve got to play better, but I’m not down on the team at all. I just feel like our group will rise up and get better and that’s what we need to do.”
Following his team’s second straight setback to the defending Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers, Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell admitted that Winnipeg is the better team right now.
Alouettes ready for physical challenge against undefeated Blue Bombers
MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes will attempt Thursday night what six other CFL teams have failed to do -- hand the Winnipeg Blue Bombers their first loss of the season. The two-time reigning Grey Cup champions Bombers, off to an 8-0 start for the first time since 1960, arrive in Montreal with a 5-0 road record and with as many wins as all the teams in the East Division combined. To make the going even rougher for the Alouettes, Montreal (2-5) will head to Winnipeg for the second of back-to-back games against the Bombers in Week 10. Facing a David against Goliath situation, Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris kept zeroed in on his team’s situation.
“That’s what I would say at this moment,” said Mitchell, who completed 21 of 32 passes for 219 yards. “I don’t think they will be at the end of the season. Hopefully that’s where we’re climbing to. If you lose to a team two times in a row, they’re better than you. That’s just the facts.”
Rene Paredes kicked five field goals for the Stamps, including one from 53 yards out, which was the longest of his career.
The Stamps jumped out to an early 6-0 lead thanks to a pair of field goals — from 25 and 38 yards — by Paredes.
Led by Collaros, the Bombers responded with a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive that Demski finished off by catching a four-yard touchdown pass in the end zone with 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
After Paredes opened the second quarter with his record-setting field goal, Demski responded with a 10-yard touchdown catch to put the Bombers back on top.
Paredes then booted his fourth field goal of the game, this time from 38 yards out, before Liegghio responded with a 12-yarder of his own with just 37 seconds remaining in the first half.
The see-saw battle continued as Carey ran for a two-yard score at 6:43 of the second quarter to cap off a five-play, 67-yard drive.
Undeterred, Collaros drove the Bombers 81 yards downfield over eight plays and finished things off by tossing a 26-yard strike to Schoen in the back of the end zone.
Carey responded with another two-yard run across the goal line that punctuated a seven-play, 64-yard drive to give the Stamps a 25-24 lead.
Following a 59-yard single by Liegghio early in the fourth quarter, the Stamps went on another lengthy drive, but had to settle for a 33-yard field goal by Paredes.
The Bombers didn’t settle for three points on their next drive as Collaros hooked up with Schoen once again for the game-winning score.
Liegghio added a 40-yard field goal to secure the victory for the Bombers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2022.
Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press
Quite a day for Mike O’Shea .
Mike O’Shea’s resume is likely second to none in the entire history of the Canadian Football League. O’Shea has six Grey Cup rings, three as a player and three as a coach. He is in the CFL Hall of Fame, and was rookie of the year and the league’s top Canadian as a player and coach of the year. Saturday saw the hometown boy make good in North Bay, Ont. The football field at the Omischl Complex has been named after the Widdifield Secondary School graduate. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers coach came home, during the team’s mid-season bye week, for this event. “Very honoured, very humbled, you don’t start playing any sport for this type of accolade.