Redblacks fumble away comeback attempt in overtime loss to Bombers

Jovan Santos-Knox recovered a fumble in overtime and held on to it as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers avoided a disastrous loss to the Ottawa Redblacks.

After the Redblacks came from 15 points down in the final five minutes to force overtime, Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols completed a touchdown pass to Weston Dressler, then made a two-point conversion before Santos-Knox’s a fumble recovery to escape Ottawa with a 40-32 win on Friday night.

“It’s been said a number of times, a big-time player making a big-time play when his teammates need it the most. He did just that,” Bombers coach Mike O’Shea said of Santos Knox.

“I thought defence didn’t have the end of the fourth quarter they wanted but they battle hard in the overtime ended up winning the game for us.”

Sinopoli took full responsibility for the fumble and the loss after the game.

“I should have hung onto the ball and it falls on me in the end. It shouldn’t have ended that way but it did and we’ve got to move on past it,” Sinopoli said. “Obviously we’d like to finish when we get into the red zone, but in the end it comes down to simple football.”

On a positive note for the Redblacks, Lewis Ward kicked three field goals to set the CFL record for consecutive field goals made.

Ward tied Rene Paredes’s record of 39 made kicks, set over the 2012-13 season with the Calgary Stampeders, at 11:41 of the third quarter with a 42-yard boot.

After Winnipeg fumbled on the next possession, Ward quickly tied the record with a 40-yard field goal at 14:17, cutting the Bombers lead to 22-17.

“It’s pretty special,” Ward said following the game in a sombre Redblacks locker-room.

“I expected to do well in this league,” said Ward. “I’m not sure if I expected this because I didn’t come here to try and break any records or anything like that. Right now it hasn’t quite sunken in but I’m going to send some time with family, teammates and friends and then it will probably sink in.”

Nichols completed 27-of-36 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, including a 12-yard strike in overtime.

After Nichols connected on a 12-yard TD pass to Dressler and Justin Medlock had a 27-yard field goal to take a 32-17 lead with just over 11 minutes gone in the fourth quarter, the Redblacks went to work.

“It was two or three different games throughout the course of the evening,” Nichols said.

“We were in control for the first couple of quarters and they did a good job storming back. I felt like this team did a great job of responding. When you’ve got a 15-point lead with four minutes left and you see it disappear it would be easy to say we blew it. That’s not the mindset of this team.”

Harris threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Julian Feoli-Gudino at 11:15 cutting the lead to 32-24, and with 12 seconds to play in regulation, Harris hit Greg Ellingson for a six-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion to tie the game at 32.

Harris led Ottawa with 349 passing yards and three TDs on a 33-for-45 performance.

The loss cost the Redblacks (8-7) a chance to clinch a playoff spot and a post-season home game. The Bombers (8-7), meanwhile, gave themselves a bit of breathing room in their playoff push in the very tight West Division.

Medlock finished the game with six field goals including four in the first half when the Bombers took a 19-11 lead into the break.

The Redblacks did line up to give Ward a chance to tie the record with a 46-yard attempt, but instead ran a fake but the play ended up with a turnover on downs with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter.

The Winnipeg lead was increased to 22-11 at 6:43 of the third quarter on Medlock’s 12-yard field goal.

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