Win in trenches

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

The men in the trenches usually get more mud in the mouth and grit in the teeth than glory.

But CFL games are usually won and lost by those soldiers up front and those wearing Winnipeg Blue Bombers retread colours certainly dominated last night.

Start with the offence. The Winnipeg offensive line opened so many holes that Bombers running backs rushed for more than 200 yards, the key to a 25-16 victory over the Toronto Argonauts in playoff-type atmosphere.

Tailback Fred Reid lugged the ball for 106 yards on 14 carries while running back Joe Smith added another 101 and a key touchdown late in the game on 12 rushes.

Two tailbacks each gaining 100 yards on the same team in the same game has not been done for at least 20 years.

Thunder and Lightning, Bombers head coach Doug Berry has called them.

"The holes were there all night," Smith said. "It's all on those guys (up front) and the receivers that were blocking downfield. They did an oustanding job. And we were just doing what we're paid to do: find the holes. And they were there, big enough for grandparents to run through."

Bombers offensive tackle Alexandre Gauthier relishes the thought of Thunder and Lightning cracking behind him.

"The most I have ever seen was with one running back and you run most of the game with the same running back," said Gauthier. "For me, that's great to have two that are different types of running backs. It really helps out because they (opponents) get ready for one guy and we use him for a few snaps and they get used to him. Then, it's 'Oh, we come in with another one.' "

Smith scored on a tough, eight-yard run late in the game to give Winnipeg an eight-point lead. He wasn't about to be denied.

"The game was on the line," he said. "It was do-or-die and we made it so, it feels good."

DE-FENCE: While quarterback Kevin Glenn and the offence were moving the ball in spurts and stops in the early going, the defenders knuckled down to hold the Toronto offence -- even after some terrible turnovers by Glenn.

The defence recovered two fumbles and had lots of pressure on Toronto quarterback Kerry Joseph. Defensive end Kai Ellis recorded three quarterback sacks and defensive end Gavin Walls had another.

"Maybe it's the retro jerseys," Ellis suggested. "When we play together as a team, good things happen. The front seven played together and had a good game."

Perhaps one of its best.

"It was one of our better efforts defensively," said defensive tackle Doug Brown. "Coach (Greg) Marshall always tells us when we play Toronto, it's the first one to 10 and it was pretty tight there for a while.

"It's never a high-scoring game. We were in some pretty difficult situations and we were fortunate and we played well. We prospered a bit and our offence came through for us huge, and we were able to close it out."

BROKEN RECORD: For a while, it looked like a broken record.

The special teams started to break down again.

First, Winnipeg placekicker Alexis Serna missed yet another field goal. That meant Serna had made just one of his last seven attempts.

Serna blew a 36-yard attempt badly on the last play of the first half and was booed off the field.

Serna did not exactly make up for it with his punting, either. In fact, a poor punt into the wind in the third quarter resulted in a 59-yard punt return by Arland Bruce III. Bruce returned the ball to the Winnipeg two, where he was caught by Bombers safety Ian Logan. No matter, Toronto tailback Jamal Robertson scored a two-yard touchdown from there, pulling the Argos to within 14-13.

But they made up for it when Serna kicked a 34-yard field goal. Aaron Hargreaves forced Bruce to fumble, with linebacker Pierre-Luc Labbe recovering to set up the three-pointer.

Then, Steve Holness caught Bruce in the endzone after a late touchdown to give the Bombers a single and an insurmountable nine-point lead.

HASHMARKS: Bombers DL Jon Oosterhuis suffered a torn biceps, which likely ends his season ... Argo LB Jean-Nicolas Carriere was carried off the field on the golf cart in the third quarter with a suspected broken leg.


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