Bombers back with a vengence

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

The Blue Bombers ballhawks are back.

Winnipeg suffered a dearth of turnovers on the defensive side of the ball in recent seasons, but they suddenly came in bunches, keying Winnipeg's victory over the reigning Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders at Canad Inns Stadium last night.

The Bombers picked off three Henry Burris passes, with the final straw coming when Winnipeg linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz intercepted a Burris pass and returned it 36 yards for the clinching touchdown in a 42-30 triumph.

"Man, I was just in the right place at the right time," said Shabazz, adding that a teammate tipped the ball at the line. "I think it was (defensive tackle) Dorian (Smith). We were just working as a team and got me a touchdown and got the team a touchdown."

That was Winnipeg's third interception of the night, with both linebacker Ike Charlton and safety Ian Logan picking off Burris. Defensive back Keyuo Craver recovered a fumble and the Bombers forced a turnover on downs late in the match.

"I heard there were some tough times around here but this is the new Blue Bombers," said Shabazz, a former Edmonton Eskimo. "We've got a new coach, a new team and we're going to take it all the way."

And the Bombers picked off Burris, last year's Grey Cup MVP, three times.

"Everybody was flying around," Shabazz said. "Everybody was hungry for the ball. Everybody was hungry for the win. It felt good to go out and get it."

The Bombers converted four of those five turnovers into touchdowns.

"That's the way we've got to play," said Bomber linebacker Barrin Simpson. "We played physical and we were hitting and we made turnovers. When you're hitting, you're going to create some turnovers and they were starting to get alligator arms. We want to go out there and put the pads on people and the turnovers will come."

But you have to make sure you secure the ball when those chance come.

"When we get the opportunity, we've got to catch them, and when I got that opportunity, I wasn't going to drop that ball," said Charlton. "I was nervous a little bit but I wasn't going to drop that ball. We just got after them up front and made him (Burris) throw some throws he probably didn't want to throw and we were able to capitalize in the secondary."

HURTING: Shabazz, tailback Fred Reid and receiver Arjei Franklin all left the game at different times after turning their ankles. They will be further examined today.

STEGALL TRIBUTE: The Bombers paid tribute to Milt Stegall, who was inducted into the club's hall of fame at halftime. Stegall was driven on the sidelines in a convertible and threw football into the stands where the sellout crowd of 29,533 was giving him a standing ovation.

While Stegall was chauffeured around the entire sidelines, a video tribute of his career on the Jumbotron. When that ended, the fans gave him another standing ovation.

Then, Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer presented Stegall with both his Bomber Hall of Fame plaque and "the very first Hall of Fame ring," Bauer said.

Stegall simply thanked Bauer, the Bomber organization, his family, God and the fans in a very short speech.

He then reminded everyone that the Bombers had never lost on a 'Milt Stegall Night," and there has been a few of them the last few seasons.

SHORT K.O.: Winnipeg caught the Stamps napping on the opening kickoff. Bomber placekicker Alexis Serna executed a perfect short kickoff with rookie defensive back Jonathan Hefney grabbing the ball and taking it to the Winnipeg 54.

The Bombers then marched downfield to score a 24-yard field goal, the first of the season for Serna.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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