Bombers hand Eskimos first loss of season

Andrew Harris accomplished something he had never done before in his professional career on Thursday.

The Blue Bombers running back chalked up more than 100 yards in both rushing and receiving as Winnipeg won its fourth straight game and handed the Edmonton Eskimos their first loss of the season with a 33-26 victory.

“Probably not since junior. Probably not even junior,” the 30-year-old Winnipeg native said of the double century marks.

“Some games, (yards) just come to you naturally. Matt (Nichols) was finding me in the pass game and I was able to make some into big chunks so that helps for sure.”

Harris rushed 11 times for 105 yards and had eight receptions for 120 yards in front of 30,554 fans at Investors Group Field that gave their team a standing ovation as time wound down.

Nichols matched a career-high by throwing for 390 yards as he completed 32-of-40 pass attempts with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran in a one-yard TD.

“Guys were out there making plays … breaking tackles and ripping off 15 yards,” Nichols said.

“The offensive line played great. That defensive line harasses everyone and I was relatively clean out there.”

He also praised Harris.

“It seemed like every time I’m standing back there I’m watching Andrew running down the field, breaking tackles,” Nichols said.

“He’s a difference-maker for us. One of the best, if not the best, in the league for the last number of years. I can’t say enough about him.”

It was Winnipeg’s second win against a CFL West Division opponent. It gave the team 12 points and second place in the division, but Calgary (11 points) plays B.C. Friday.

Quarterback Mike Reilly was 20-of-33 for 356 yards with two TDs and one interception.

“When you’re playing against an opponent like that, you need to play four quarters of good football and we played two quarters of pretty good football,” Reilly said.

Winnipeg (6-2) led 3-0 after the first quarter and 17-3 at halftime, the fewest points Edmonton (7-1) has scored in the first half this season.

It was 27-17 for the Bombers after the third quarter, but the Eskimos started to squeeze the score.

Bombers kicker Justin Medlock missed a 51-yard field-goal attempt early in the fourth quarter that Edmonton ran out.

A 72-yard catch-and-run by Cory Watson then helped set up a one-yard TD plunge by Reilly at 8:48. After Hugh O’Neill went wide on a convert attempt, the Bombers were only up 30-23.

Medlock got another chance and booted a 32-yarder with 1:22 left.

Bombers linebacker Maurice Leggett then intercepted Reilly, but Winnipeg was called for illegal contact and it was wiped out. A challenge was unsuccessful.

The Eskimos pushed deep into Winnipeg territory, but the drive ended with O’Neill’s 16-yard field goal with 14 seconds left and the score 33-26.

Bombers receiver Darvin Adams sealed the win when he grabbed Edmonton’s onside kick two seconds later.

Eskimos head coach Jason Maas had at least four more players go down with injuries to add to the 20 already on the injured list.

Maas said Harris is hard to stop.

“We just didn’t make enough plays tonight, and it didn’t matter what (Harris) did, there was still opportunities for us…,” he said.

“You’ve got to be able to make those plays to win games. We had been doing that through seven games and the eighth game we didn’t and they did so that’s why they won the game.”

Winnipeg also got TDs off a quarterback sneak by backup Dan LeFevour, while Adams caught a 25-yarder just inside the goal line after an Edmonton turnover.

Medlock added field goals from 21, 24 and 15 yards and was good on three converts.

Kenny Stafford hauled in a 40-yard TD catch for the Eskimos and Duke Williams hung on to a 33-yard pass while falling backwards in the end zone.

O’Neill missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt, but connected on one from 31 and made a pair of converts.

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