WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence didn’t have its usual swagger on Friday night, but did enough to lift the team to a league-leading seventh win.
The Bombers pulled out a 30-27 victory over the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Canad Inns Stadium to move to 7-1 on the season.
The Bombers defence is the best in the Canadian Football League statistically this season, but it allowed the Ticats to gain more than 400 yards on Friday night. The 27 points were also the most Winnipeg has given up all season.
Yet it was two plays by the defence that allowed the Bombers to win their fifth straight game.
Defensive back Jovon Johnson returned a first-half interception 67 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring and middle linebacker Joe Lobendahn forced a fumble at the Bombers goal-line in the third quarter to save a touchdown and keep the game tied.
Defensive back Jonathan Hefney recovered the ball in the end-zone for Winnipeg.
The Ticats, who fell to 4-4 on the season, did come back from an early 17-3 deficit and even took a seven-point lead of their own in the fourth quarter, but Winnipeg rallied, first with a 12-yard touchdown catch by Terrence Edwards to tie the score, then with a 21-yard field goal by Justin Palardy to put them ahead for good with 6:15 left in the game.
Down three, the Ticats got the ball back one last time on their own 29-yard line with 35 seconds left to play, but weren’t able to get a first down as the Bomber defence held strong to secure the win.
The Bombers got off to an uncharacteristically hot start, building their early lead on the strength of Johnson’s touchdown and a 17-yard touchdown catch by Clarence Denmark as well as a Palardy field goal.
The Ticats came back to level the score at 17 before halftime thanks to a pair of long touchdown passes by Hamilton quarterback Kevin Glenn. First he found Chris Williams on a 49-yard catch and run and then connected with Bakari Grant for a 43-yard major score.
The Ticats appeared set to take the lead on the first drive of the third quarter when Glenn found Williams behind coverage, but as the Ticat receiver paused to find his downfield blocking, Lobendahn hustled back to force the game-changing turnover.
After Palardy put the Bombers in front 20-17 with a 27-yard field goal, the Ticats took their first lead of the game when quarterback Quinton Porter dove into the end-zone from the one-yard line. A Justin Medlock 39-yard field goal increased the advantage to seven points.
Edwards was the catalyst for the Bombers comeback and finished the day with six catches for 120 yards. Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce went 19-for-34 for 293 yards and two touchdowns.
Glenn was 22-for-34 on the day for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Williams caught seven passes for a game-high 162 yards.