The Winnipeg Blue Bombers weren’t concerned with their second straight slow start on offence. Running back Andrew Harris made up for it later in the game.
Harris had two touchdowns on the ground as Winnipeg came away with a 33-25 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday.
“We’ve got to do a little better job and keep working thought it,” Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols said about starting the game with a stagnant offence.
“(But) none of us care about what happened in the first half and the first quarter. You guys will talk about it . . . We found a way to win.”
Harris, who carried the ball 17 times for 81 yards, scored his first TD in the second quarter, while his second of the game came in the fourth and put Winnipeg ahead for good.
“It felt really good to find the end zone,” said Harris.
Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray threw for over 300 yards for the fourth straight game, but finished with no touchdowns and two interceptions. The Argos got most of their points from Lirim Hajrullahu’s six field goals.
“I felt like we were moving the ball really well and just couldn’t finish,” said Ray, who finished with 330 yards compared to 228 for Nichols.
“We had some opportunities and just didn’t make the plays we needed to. That’s the thing. We’ve just got to find a way to execute a little better and try and score some of those touchdowns. It’s kind of a win for the defence when they hold you to just three points.”
Penalties were also costly for the Argonuats, with one flag negating a Toronto touchdown.
Those penalties and dropped balls killed several Toronto chances to right the ship after a first half dominated by special teams for both sides.
Both teams had touchdowns on returns and by the end of the game Winnipeg kicker Justin Medlock had four field goals – one from 55 yards before a screaming crowd of 25,085 fans at Investors Group Field.
Home wins have been hard to come by for the Bombers since they moved to their new stadium, but the fans didn’t have to wait long for something to cheer about.
Before the game, Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea had been looking for more from his kick-return squad and he got it, with Ryan Lankford’s 105-yard opening touchdown just 14 seconds into the game.
Toronto got on the board about six minutes later on a 34-yard field goal from Hajrullaju.
Then it was Toronto’s turn for the big run, a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown at 10:58 by Martese Jackson to give the Argos a 10-7 lead.
The Argos saw a promising drive snuffed to end the first quarter when Ray threw just his second interception of the season to Winnipeg defensive back Moe Leggett.
Winnipeg evened things up at the 3:34 mark of the second on a 45-yard field goal from Medlock.
Ray was sacked to end another drive in the second but Hajrullahu was already in range for a 43-yard field goal to put Toronto ahead again.
Winnipeg’s offence finally scored some points at 9:01 of the second quarter, after Nichols put together a seven-play, 75-yard drive capped by Harris.
“Any time you get the run game going it just opens up so much more,” said Harris.
Then it was penalty pain again for the Argos as Jackson had a 109-yard return touchdown called back for an illegal block. Toronto had to settle for a field goal from Hajrullahu.
The Toronto kicker added another at 11:38 to go ahead 19-17.
Medlock scored from 55 yards to give the Bombers a brief lead but Hajrullahu hit from 47 yards to make it 22-20 at the break.
Hajrullahu added his sixth field goal of the evening at the 7:04 mark of the third quarter to extend the Argos’ lead.
Harris scored his second touchdown of the game on a two-yard carry about five minutes later to make it 27-25 for Winnipeg, after Toronto took another costly penalty for clotheslining Winnipeg ball carrier Darvin Adams.
“It’s about playing good clean football. Tonight was just about too many mistakes,” said Ray.
Medlock kicked his third field goal of the evening at 4:09 of the fourth to put the Bombers ahead by five, then kicked his fourth of the game at 11:15 sealing the win.