Blue given gift

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Last night's event at Canad Inns Stadium looked more like Christmas morning than a football game.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats spent the gorgeous, but breezy fall evening playing Santa Claus, and it was the Bombers who ended up with the most loot.

Winnipeg, in a performance that wasn't exactly Grey Cup contender-ish, turned three Hamilton turnovers into 17 points and escaped with a 21-19 victory in front of 27,102 spectators.

"You have to take advantage of the opportunities, and I think we did that tonight," Bombers quarterback Kevin Glenn said. "But as an offence we know we didn't play a good game."

While it may not have been pretty -- Hamilton scored 16 of its points off four Winnipeg turnovers -- the Bombers nonetheless took a giant leap toward hosting the East Division final in November.

The Bombers (8-4-1) are five points up on the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts, who are both 6-7, with five games remaining. Hamilton is last in the East at 2-11.

"You can't be in a better position than that at this point of the season," running back Charles Roberts said.

Winnipeg hosts the West Division-leading B.C. Lions on Friday night.

It was a night full of gifts, but the tide-turning turnover occurred early in the fourth quarter with the Ticats up 19-11.

Winnipeg's Troy Westwood, forced into the punter's role after Rob Pikula suffered a concussion, launched a wind-aided, 85-yard bomb -- one of many last night -- and Ticats returner/receiver Jason Armstead inexplicably decided to take the ball out of his own end zone. He only got to the four-yard line.

On the next play, Hamilton quarterback Richie Williams, making his first CFL start in place of the injured Casey Printers, was intercepted by Juran Bolden, who rolled a few yards to the one-yard line. The officials at first ruled it an incomplete pass, but Bombers head coach Doug Berry threw the challenge flag and won the decision.

"I'm surprised they didn't give me the touchdown," Bolden said. "I tried to roll in there. Stop, drop and roll. I was on fire."

Roberts, who finished with 68 yards on only 11 carries, punched it in from the one to get the Bombers within one.

After a quick two-and-out by the Ticats, the Bombers strolled 44 yards on a pair of Roberts' runs to the Hamilton seven. They had to settle for Westwood's 14-yard field goal with 9:54 to go, but they proved to be the winning points.

"It only takes one play to really turn a game around," Bolden said of his first CFL interception since the 2001 East Division final. "Maybe that was the play, but you could pick a couple plays out there."

A week after passing for career-high 453 yards, Glenn completed only 11 of 29 attempts for 184 yards, a 30-yard touchdown toss to Derick Armstrong and two interceptions.

The Bombers managed only 183 yards of total offence. Their previous low was 329 yards in Week 4 against Montreal.

"Defence played their ass off, I know that," Bombers offensive lineman Dan Goodspeed said.

Williams was good on 14 of 25 passes for 149 yards, an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kori Dickerson and an interception. Jesse Lumsden had 12 carries for 76 yards before leaving with a shoulder injury.

Westwood added a 22-yard field goal and a kickoff single for the Bombers, who led 11-7 at the half.

Nick Setta booted field goals from 42, 37 and 18 yards, and he also had three singles to round out the scoring for the Ticats.


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