Bombers lose Matt Nichols but beat Ottawa Redblacks

By Grant Deme

The final undefeated teams went toe-to-toe in Week 4’s marquee matchup and it was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers prevailing over the Ottawa Redblacks 29-14 Friday night in the nation’s capital.

A big play started things early. Matt Nichols had all day in the pocket finding Nic Demski behind Antoine Pruneau for an 82-yard touchdown on their first drive. It was the quarterback’s 100th career touchdown.

Rick Campbell responded with some trickery on their second drive. A direct snap on a third and two punt situation to JC Beaulieu kept the sticks moving. Mike O’Shea successfully challenged offensive pass interference on Caleb Holley the next play, negating a 39-yard play and the series ended with a punt single.

Nichols kept the offence moving at the end of the quarter and into the second. He took what the defence gave him in short yard gains on top of a 24-yard pass to Drew Wolitarsky. But Justin Medlock missed his second field goal of the game from 43 yards settling for a single. He pinged the right post earlier from 51 yards out.

Nichols went 16-of-20 for 262 yards and a touchdown on the night, before exiting the game in the third.

Lewis Ward then showed Medlock how it was done. He sent his kick straight down the middle from 52 yards as the former usher continues to make it look easy in his sophomore season, for his 58th consecutive field goal.

Dominique Davis finished up with 234 yards on 21-for-36 passing and two interceptions.

The Bombers didn’t need Medlock on their next drive, except to kick the point after. They marched 75 yards on 10 plays including a 17-yard run by Andrew Harris. A short Chris Streveler pass to Wolitarsky was enough to secure six more points, the final in the half, as it remained 15-4 until the third.

The Bombers came out swinging in the second half. Nichols found Darvin Adams after a Harris run for 21 yards and a roughing the passer call tacked on another 15. The clubs traded more 15-yard penalties later on and Streveler punched his way into the end zone and the lead grew by seven.

The Bombers forced another two and out as Ottawa’s offence continued their struggles. On the plus side, punter Richie Leone had a great game. He booted his fifth punt 61 yards downfield and averaged almost 52 yards on the game. On Winnipeg’s side of special teams play, Mike Miller recorded seven tackles.

Winnipeg allowed just 24 rushing yards and 258 total yards while their offence put up over 450. Their defence led the CFL in fewest rushing yards allowed coming into Week 4.

On the ensuing drive, Nichols took a hit on an 18-yard run in lieu of sliding. He did not return after undergoing concussion protocol.

Streveler went 6-for-8 with 42 yards one touchdown and pick and an additional two rushing touchdowns.

The Redblacks got some momentum back as Anthony Cioffi picked off a tipped pass and Davis went to work. The drive looked good early before it stalled out and Ward hit his second field goal of the evening this time from 42 yards.

It was up to their defence to secure Ottawa’s first touchdown of the night.

Jonathan Rose picked up a stripped Charles Nelson catch by Sherrod Baltimore and ran it in for the score. O’Shea was unsuccessful in his second challenge of the night calling for the pass to be ruled incomplete. The quick swing cut the deficit to 22-14 heading to the fourth.

Then a heads up play by Medlock on a punt atoned for his miss field goals and got his team the ball back inside the three. Returner Ryan Lankford misplayed the punt and seemed to hope the coffin corner ball would bounce out on its own.

But Medlock slid and kicked the pigskin out of bounds after Lankford made contact with the ball giving their offence the ball. Streveler did the rest crossing the goal line and the lead was back up to 15.

Ottawa had the ball following the score and Davis connected with R.J Harris for 30 yards, the quarterbacks biggest pass on the night. But it was Bombers ball a play later as Rose recovered a Holley fumble.

The ensuing drive didn’t result in points but ate up over five minutes on the clock. Ottawa got the ball back after the three minute warning but gave it back on a Davis pick.

Ottawa is home against Montreal next week while Winnipeg squares off with the Argonauts.

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