Chris Randle picks off Mike Reilly, sends Eskimos to sixth straight loss

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are one step closer to securing a home playoff date after a well-balanced performance.

Matt Nichols had a pair of touchdown passes as the Blue Bombers won their third game in a row, hanging on to defeat the Edmonton Eskimos 28-19 on Saturday.

Winnipeg (10-3) has now won eight of its last nine games.

“It was a great game, our defence came out and played very well,” said Winnipeg receiver Darvin Adams. “It was different guys and different times stepping up and making plays. We want to win 1-0, as long as we get one more point and get the win.”

The Eskimos (7-6) have now lost six straight games after a 7-0 start to the season.

“The second half, I thought we turned the tide,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “You take away that big play at the end and it felt like we were going to go right down the field and score.

“Disappointing. A disappointing loss as a team.”

There was no scoring in the first quarter, although the Blue Bombers threatened twice, with kicker Justin Medlock missing on a pair of field-goal attempts that were run back out of the end zone.

The Blue Bombers finally got the game’s first point six minutes into the second quarter, as Medlock missed a third field goal from 33 yards out, but this time got the rouge to make it 1-0.

Edmonton also had kicking woes in the second as a 51-yard field-goal attempt by Swayze Waters hit the uprights.

Winnipeg finally put things together with 13 seconds left in the first half when Nichols hit Clarence Denmark for a six-yard touchdown pass.

The Eskimos woke up early in the third quarter as Calvin McCarty made a nice one-handed grab for an unconverted five-yard TD to go ahead 8-6.

The Bombers padded their lead with a two-yard TD run by Andrew Harris just past the midmark of the third frame.

Edmonton responded with a 31-yard field goal to make it 15-9 heading into the fourth.

Winnipeg came right back with a 13-yard TD pass from Nichols to Adams. The convert kick missed.

The Eskimos settled for a 42-yard field goal by Waters on their next possession, but then closed to within two points midway through the final frame on a 21-yard TD pass from Mike Reilly to Derel Walker.

Edmonton’s hopes of completing the comeback were dashed when Reilly was picked off with 2:34 remaining by Chris Randle, who ran it back 37 yards for the major.

“I haven’t had a pick-six this year, so that was a pretty big play,” Randle said. “It was one of my bigger plays of the year so far.

“All-in-all it was a great effort by our team. We haven’t peaked yet. We want to start peaking at the right time. As long as we aren’t content with where we are, I think we will get there.”

Winnipeg will play host to the Hamilton Ticats on Friday, while the Eskimos are in Montreal on Monday, Oct. 9.