Blue Bombers 38 Tiger-Cats 28
HAMILTON, Ont. — Three weeks ago, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had a winning record and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were tied for last in the CFL East.
Things look a lot different now.
Michael Bishop threw three touchdown passes Monday as the Blue Bombers beat Hamilton 38-28. It was the third straight win for the Bombers, and the third straight loss for the Ticats.
The two teams heading in different directions are now tied for second in the East with 6-8 records.
“I’m just so happy for our players because they just kept plugging along and they’re starting to reap some of the rewards of all their hard work, and they’re focused,” said head coach Mike Kelly.
Winnipeg was 3-8 before the winning streak began on Sept. 26 with a win over Toronto, and had shared last place with the Argonauts.
The final score made the game seem closer than it was. The Bombers had a 31-0 lead late in the third quarter before Hamilton mounted a comeback.
“Hamilton started to execute a little bit better,” Kelly said. “We were up 31-0 and I kept trying to keep our focus on everything but that’s not always the easiest thing to do.”
The CFL’s crossover format means both teams will need to finish strong in the final four games to ensure the fourth-place team in the West doesn’t steal the third and final playoff berth in the East. The Bombers and Ticats will meet again in their final game of the regular season.
Currently, the fourth team in the West is Edmonton, which also has a 6-8 record.
Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille seemed shocked at his team’s lack of performance in such an important game.
“To work as hard as you do all week and put extra time in and not give yourself a chance, obviously that’s discouraging,” he said quietly, later adding: “We’re in a dogfight now. We’re in a different situation. Everything we do now is of the utmost importance whether or not we like the pressure, it’s there. You can’t ignore it.”
Adarius Bowman hauled in two of Bishop’s three touchdown strikes in front of a disgruntled Steeltown crowd of 19,562. Bishop completed 21-of-38 pass attempts for 356 yards — 263 of those yards in the first half. He also had two interceptions, both in the end zone, and fumbled deep in Winnipeg territory.
“We did a good job coming in, in the first half, and moving the ball and taking advantage of what they were giving us,” said Bishop. “I had enough time to get the ball down the field and (the receivers) made some great catches and they got a lot of yards after the catch.”
Bowman, a second-year receiver out of Oklahoma State, had 213 yards on 10 receptions and was getting wide open for much of the first half.
Receiver Brock Ralph and defensive back Lenny Walls also scored for the Bombers. Winnipeg kicker Alexis Serna hit two of three field-goal attempts, missing from 41 but making it from 18 and 43 yards out. Drisan James scored late in the third, the first touchdown of his career, to get the Ticats on the scoreboard and Markeith Knowlton added another on a fumble recovery, and short-yardage quarterback Adam Tafralis also scored.
Hamilton quarterback Quinton Porter was chased from the game late in the first quarter after two fumbles — his second on the Hamilton seven-yard-line recovered by Walls who ran it in for the score — and just 28 yards passing. He was replaced by Kevin Glenn, who led a late-game comeback. He made 21 of 34 pass attempts for 273 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Roughriders 33 Argonauts 22
REGINA — Saskatchewan head coach Ken Miller suggested in the lead up to Saturday’s game with Toronto that he would consider using backup quarterback Steven Jyles if Darian Durant didn’t perform.
The starter responded to the challenge.
Durant threw three first-half touchdowns for Saskatchewan as the Roughriders beat the Argonauts 32-22 before 29,316 fans at Mosaic Stadium.
“That’s part of how he perceives himself, as being somebody who’s going to excel in a tough situation,” Miller said of Durant. “Certainly he’s done that several times on the year, so he has confidence in himself and I think our players have confidence in him.”
The win moved Saskatchewan (8-6) into a tie for first in the CFL’s West Division with the Calgary Stampeders.
“If you would look at the alternative, it would have put us really behind the 8-ball,” said Miller.
“Now we’re in a situation where we’re back battling in a place to shape our own destiny.”
Toronto (3-11) has lost four in a row.