Could be a dogfight

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:03 AM ET

What’s this, a real race in the CFL Least?

If we can draw any conclusions from the first couple of weeks of battle in the CFL’s weakling division, it starts with this: the days of a free space on the bingo card of the CFL East may be over.

Because last year’s laughing stock, the Toronto Argonauts, don’t look so funny anymore.

And the other joke from 2009, the hometown Blue Bombers, continue to look nothing like the clown suits that turned off so many a year ago.

These two former also-rans got together Friday night — a 36-34 Argos victory — and actually provided a solid night’s entertainment, a far cry from the offensive gong show they provided here 12 months ago.

You may recall that one produced a 19-5 Toronto win, a game that saw the Bomber “attack” manage one first-half first down.

Things were so bad that day, quarterback Stefan LeFors was booed when his jersey was offered up for a charity on the big video screen — long after he’d been pulled from the game.

That caused then-head coach Mike Kelly to call Winnipeg fans schizophrenic.

By comparison, current boss Paul LaPolice’s offence is a pleasure to watch, despite Friday’s loss.

And his quarterback, well, his legend just gets bigger every time he pulls on that No. 4 jersey.

OK, the word “legend” is a stretch. That’s Ken Ploen territory, and we shouldn’t even go there.

But what Buck Pierce did again Friday is enough to excite even the grumpiest cynic, even if he couldn’t rally his team to victory.

Early on it appeared Pierce might have a humbling night, as he lost the handle on a routine pass, then tossed his first interception — his first two turnovers in blue and gold.

Never mind. By the end of the first half he’d produced one of those highlight reel plays they’ll be showing all season, taking off on an option play to outrun the entire Argos defence for a 43-yard touchdown, finishing it off with one of those diving, reach-the-ball-over-the-goal-line moves normally reserved for gifted receivers.

Pierce is obviously gifted. Flat-out fast, actually. He put up a mind-boggling 93 yards rushing in that first half.

And at receiver, the two Ter(r)ences, the veteran Edwards and the rookie, Jeffers-Harris, are a mouthwatering combination of guile and raw ability.

Watching Jeffers-Harris snag a ball from in front of an Argos defender and gallop 60 yards for a third-quarter touchdown recalled former greats like Mike Holmes and Eugene Goodlow, it was that smooth.

Sure, there are still warts on Coach LaPo’s new baby, the most prominent one smack dab in the middle of the face of the special teams.

Gotta feel sorry for kicker Alexis Serna, who’s come to realize every missed field goal could go back for six points the other way. That unit couldn’t tackle Grade 1 math right now.

The kicking and coverage games cost the Bombers two points, plain and simple, as they were hammered in the field position battle all night.

When you rack up 493 yards offence to the other guy’s 317, you should win.

But that stuff can be fixed — can’t it, coach?

The defence took a step back, too, we should point out, unable to stop a Toronto offence led by CFL neophyte Cleo Lemon when it mattered most: in the dying minutes.

The Bombers let one get away, and Coach LaPo shouldn’t have to worry about preaching humility this week. If I were him, I’d put together a film of the screwups this time, instead of the highlights, to show the boys on Monday.

But, seriously, after what you put up with last year, Bomber fans, you’ve gotta admit: a last-minute thriller that isn’t decided until the video review of a Winnipeg onside kick ain’t that bad.


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