PRESS RELEASE CFL.CA STAFF / IMAGES ERICH EICHHORN – ISN
VANCOUVER — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers reminded everybody exactly why they are the defending Grey Cup champions in a statement win over the BC Lions in Vancouver on Saturday night.
Blue Bombers quarterback, Zach Collaros led his team to a 43-22 over BC, as Winnipeg improves to a perfect 5-0 to start the year.
In the win Collaros completed 23 of his 30 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns, dissecting the Lions’ defence with unmatched field vision.
Rookie receiver, Dalton Schoen had a night to remember in the Week 5 win. Schoen was targeted a team-high 10 times reeling in eight passes for a season-high yards 117 and two touchdowns.
Winnipeg’s ground game found success as a collective unit on Saturday night, they managed 141 rushing yards and a touchdown, while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. It was Johnny Augustine who led the charge with 12 carries and 57 yards.
The Bombers defensive unit contributed to the win with another impressive showing, with three interceptions, a fumble recovery and a sack in the game.
Despite having a short week of preparation after playing in Toronto on Monday to close out Week 4, the Bombers were not lacking energy to start Week 5.
Before either team’s quarterback could even step on the field, Winnipeg’s Janarion Grant returned the game’s opening kickoff 97-yards for a touchdown.
Rourke and the Lions offence seemed un-phased by the Bombers’ quick score, as the BC offence began to work it’s way down the field.
With the ball inside the Winnipeg 40-yard line, Rourke dropped to looking for a completion on a crossing route with Keon Hatcher, instead he found the hands of Winnipeg’s Jackson Jeffcoat who came away with the interception to give the Bombers the ball back.
With their offence on the field following the interception, Collaros and the Bomber offence worked methodically downfield for a nine-play scoring drive to push their lead to 14.
The drive was highlighted by Greg Ellingson who caught a 28-yard corner route, before adding a 14-yard reception to put his team in striking range. On the BC 12-yard line Collaros found rookie receiver, Dalton Schoen in the end zone for his second touchdown of the season.
With their second drive of the game, it was the Bomber ground game that was relied upon to work them down the field. Running back, Johnny Augustin carried the ball three times for 25 yards, before Greg McCraebroke free for a 22-yard run of his own.
Following a 19-yard run from Augustine, Collaros once again found Ellingson on a pass to put Winnipeg inside BC’s five-yard line. Quarterback, Dru Brown was called in to punch in the goal line score, helping his team end the first quarter with a 21-point lead.
Rourke and the BC offence were back on the field to start the second quarter and after completing four straight passes for 66-yards, Rourke appeared to have the Lions offence moving downfield. However, on a second and three Winnipeg defensive linemen, Willie Jefferson burst through the BC offensive line for the drive-stopping sack.
With under five minutes remaining in the second quarter Winnipeg would continue adding to their lead. Kicker, Marc Lieghhio connected on a 45-yard field goal to extend the Bomber lead to 24.
Facing their largest deficit of the season, the BC offence were managed to find the end zone and cut into the Winnipeg lead. Needing just two plays, Rourke found a streaking Josh Pearson for a 66-yard touchdown pass, giving BC their first score of the game.
The quick scoring ability and explosiveness of the Lions offence was on full display to close out the first half. With the ball on the Winnipeg 53-yard line, Rourke wasted no time taking advantage of the situation.
The BC pivot completed a quick 17-yard pass to Dominique Rhymes before going right back to Rhymes on a 36-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions scores on back-to-back drives.
The first half scoring wouldn’t be done there, the Bombers would again call on Liegghio, this time he was good from 23-yards giving the Bombers a 27-14 lead to end the first half.
BC opened the second half receiving the kickoff and looking to build on the momentum from the late second quarter surge. However, the Winnipeg defence opened the half equally as ready, forcing a quick two and out, halting any momentum the Lions hoped to take advantage of.
The defensive efforts of the Bombers’ earned their team another score. Winnipeg was able to manage a six-play scoring drive that ended with a 46-yard field goal make from Liegghio to extend the lead. The 46-yard make from the Bomber kicker marks his longest of the 2022 season.
Approaching the midway mark of the third quarter, Collaros had the Winnipeg offence driving once again. Schoen, already with a touchdown in the contest, continued to make an impact for his team. Collaros connected with Schoen three times for 36 yards on the drive, including a touchdown to Schoen in the back of the end zone for his second major of the game.
The Lions opened the fourth quarter with their offence on the field following a 36-yard punt return from Shai Ross. Again, Rourke and the BC offence showed their ability to quickly flip field position. Rourke completed a 31-yard pass to Rhymes, putting the Lions on the Bombers’ three -yard line.
In scoring range, Rourke lobbed a pass into the air for Javon Cottoy, who came away with the catch for the touchdown, cutting the Winnipeg lead to 15.
Following the BC score, their defence was able to force Collaros into throwing an incompletion on a second and long conversion attempt.
With their offence back on the field after the two and out, Rourke was looking downfield for Cottoy again, but this time Winnipeg’s Donald Rutledge Jr. Jumped in front of the pass for the interception.
On the very next play, Collaros dropped back and found Ellingson in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown, giving his team a 43-22 lead.
The Lions fortunes would not turn for the better in their attempt to respond to the Ellingson touchdown. Rourke connected with Cottoy for a 20-yard completion, but Rutlidge was there to make another big play for the Bomber defence as he stripped the ball and forced a fumble that Winnipeg would recover.
The Lions defence would stave off the Bombers’ offensive attack following the forced fumble. On a third and 14, Liegghio lined up to attempt a 43-yard field goal, but as it travelled through the air it found the upright and fell to the turf for the miss, his first miss of the season.
Looking ahead to Week 6 the Bombers will look to improve upon their undefeated record as they matchup against the Calgary Stampeders, who also boast an undefeated record.
The Lions will be on a bye week, returning to action in a Week 7 matchup with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.