Canadian Football League

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Winnipeg picks up first Canadian Football League win

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers knew winning their first game of the year wouldn't be easy, but even they couldn't imagine a night where they needed to score over 50 points to beat the Montreal Alouettes.

Montreal Alouettes' Richard Karikari uses Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Kamau Peterson as leverage to catch a pass during the first half in Winnipeg on Friday night. (CP/Marianne Helm)
After blowing a 24-point lead twice, Winnipeg defeated Montreal 51-46 Friday night in a wild contest.
On an evening of big plays none was bigger than the 56-yard touchdown strike that veteran receiver Milt Stegall hauled in from quarterback Kevin Glenn with 1:44 remaining to give Winnipeg its first win.
"It was a good game for the fans to watch," said Stegall.
"We showed some character, especially on offence. We scored when we had to."
Stegall has three catches for 60 yards.
"We're still not where we should be, but we're going in the right direction," he said.
Charles Roberts had a huge game for the Bombers on the ground. He became the first running back to gain over 100 yards against Montreal this season. Roberts finished with 195 rushing yards on 20 carries but more importantly, scored two touchdowns in the second half.
"You still don't like it to be that close at the end," said Roberts. "I feel like we did our best against one of the best teams in the league."
After running back Eric Lapointe's one-yard touchdown with 2:51 remaining in the game put Montreal (2-2) up 44-43, it appeared Winnipeg (1-4) was heading for another heart-breaking loss.
However, Stegall's touchdown reception and Wane McGarity's two-point conversion assured the Bombers would leave with a victory.
William Fields killed Montreal's last chance when he intercepted Anthony Calvillo on the last play of the game.
Calvillo was 29-of-42 for 439 yards on the night with three TDs and three interceptions.
"We left a lot of points on the field," said Calvillo.
"We feel very confident we'll get the job done but we're making too many mistakes. Guys have got to know we can't breeze through this league and win 13 games. We're shooting ourselves in the foot."
Roberts gave Winnipeg a 43-37 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter after a 69-yard touchdown run, but the Bombers failed to convert the kick after a botched snap.
Though the Bombers scored plenty of points, their defence simply couldn't stop Montreal's explosive offence in the second half.
The momentum turned when the Montreal defence, facing a third-and-one, stuffed Roberts at the Winnipeg 44.
The Alouettes then took the ball and scored after receiver Ben Cahoon made a spectacular one-handed grab in the back of the end zone to cut Winnipeg's lead to 37-29 with 9:39 remaining.
The turnovers didn't stop there as Reggie Durden intercepted a Glenn pass and returned it to the Winnipeg five. After a penalty pushed Montreal back 10 yards, Calvillo hit receiver Kerry Watkins on a 15-yard strike at the 7:43 mark.
A Cahoon two-point conversion tied the game at 37 and gave Montreal the lift it desperately needed to cap the comeback only to see it fall short minutes later.
Special teams played a key role in Winnipeg's first two scores of the second half.
Keith Stokes took the opening kickoff 50 yards to give the Bombers excellent field position. Roberts then finished off the drive with a two-yard run and a 31-10 Winnipeg lead.
Stokes then returned a punt 26 yards to the Montreal 49. The return led to a Troy Westwood 49-yard field goal for a 34-10 lead.
Montreal closed the gap to 34-17 after Cahoon caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Calvillo with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter.
The highlight of the game for the Bombers came after they conceding two-points while punting out of their own end zone.
On the ensuing drive, Cahoon fumbled the ball after taking a vicious hit from behind by Bombers safety Wes Lysack. Linebacker Willie Fells recovered his second fumble of the game as Winnipeg started possession from the Montreal 15.
The drive stalled, however, and the Bombers had to settle for a 22-yard Westwood field goal to push the lead to 37-19 with 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Penalties were costly for both teams. Montreal was flagged 16 times for 113 yards. Winnipeg had 12 penalties for 72 yards.
"If there's only one thing you can take out of this as a positive is that our guys battled and they worked hard the whole time," said Montreal head coach Don Matthews.
"They are guys that will not go down easily, but we certainly made enough mistakes - penalties, fumbles and interceptions."


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