Thunder 'n' Lightning

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers aren't officially in the playoffs just yet, but head coach Doug Berry can sure smell them.

"It's got a nice aroma, and I like to smell playoffs," Berry said with a smile in a jubilant Bomber locker-room. "The scent is stronger. We're that much closer, obviously. It's not there yet, but we're that much closer with three weeks to go."

Thanks to the Winnipeg's thunder and lightning running back tandem of Joe Smith and Fred Reid, who both topped the 100-yard plateau, the Bombers scored their biggest win of the year last night, a 25-16 win over the Toronto Argonauts in front of 27,268 spectators at Canad Inns Stadium.

The Bombers improved to 6-9 and moved four points up on the Argos (4-11), who have lost six straight. To secure second in the East Division and a home playoff game, Winnipeg just has to win one more game or hope that Toronto and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-11) both lose one of their remaining contests.

Winnipeg's victory last night, which was its fourth in five games, also means the fourth-place team in the West Division will cross over and play in the East semifinal.

It was an off night for Kevin Glenn and the Bomber passing game, so it was the tailbacks who carried the load. Reid had 14 rushes for 106 yards, and Smith hauled the rock 12 times for 101 yards and a touchdown.

The Bombers haven't had two 100-yard rushers in one game since at least 1987. The team's PR department was still trying to determine at press time last night if it has ever happened.

"The O-line came out, and they were firing off on the D-line," said Smith, while his dog Meme, a Miniature Pinscher, licked and sniffed the microphones. "They couldn't stop them. The O-line, they just manned up tonight and blew guys off the ball."

Reid said he has never been involved in a game in which two running backs from the same team both had 100 yards.

"That's real sweet," he said. "That rarely happens over here in the CFL. That just shows how hard we've been working."

Toronto took a 16-14 lead with 9:53 to go, but maligned Bomber kicker Alexis Serna ended up booting the game-winning points two minutes later with a 34-yard field goal.

Serna missed a 36-yard attempt on the final play of the first half (his sixth miss in his previous seven attempts), and he was booed heavily as he headed to the locker-room.

So with 7:11 to go in the game and the Bombers needing a yard and a half from the Argos' 27-yard line on third down, the crowd howled as Serna strolled onto the field.

"I was just trying to figure out if they were booing me or booing the call, but I didn't really figure it out," Serna said. "I just went out there and kicked."

And when he split the uprights, the crowd cheered.

"I guess that's the way it is," Serna said. "It's a matter of making the kicks that count."

Terrence Edwards caught touchdown passes of 37 and five yards for the Bombers, who also got an eight-yard touchdown from Smith in the final minute that capped an eight-play, clock-killing drive. Seven of the plays were on the ground.

"I love running the football," Berry said. "It was fun to see those guys run as hard as they did tonight. The line did a nice job. There were a lot of holes that were there and then some that the backs made on their own."

Glenn completed only 14 of 31 attempts for 153 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, both of which were picked by Jason Shivers.

Winnipeg's defence had a superb outing, forcing three turnovers and not allowing a single touchdown drive. Toronto's lone major, a two-yard jaunt by Jamal Robertson, came after a 59-yard punt return by Arland Bruce III in the third quarter.

Argos quarterback Kerry Joseph completed 25 of 36 passes for 311 yards.

The Bombers visit Calgary to take on the Stampeders a week from today, and they'll be able to clinch a playoff spot with a win.

"The momentum," Smith said, "is on our side."


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