Bombers make a statement

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

It was the perfect ending to a not-so-perfect week on Maroons Road.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers put the Derick Armstrong saga behind them in convincing fashion last night, thumping the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders 42-30 in their home-opener.

Bombers head coach Mike Kelly, who released Armstrong after he refused to play in last week's season-opening loss in Edmonton, got his first win as a pro head coach in front of an announced sellout crowd of 29,533 spectators who turned out for the latest instalment of Milt Stegall Night.

Terrence Edwards and Lavarus Giles both scored two touchdowns, and linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz had a game-clinching 36-yard interception return for a score as the Bombers improved to 1-1.

"Questions were being asked all week about (Armstrong), but I do believe that we put it to bed early," said LeFors, who picked up his first CFL win as a starter in his seventh attempt. "I don't think that was something we just said.

"... Just the win period feels good. But to do it at home, in the home-opener, against a team like Calgary. It's a great time."

Winnipeg's next game is a week from today at Ivor Wynne Stadium against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Bombers didn't just eke out the win last night; they made the defending champs, who fell to 0-2, look like chumps. They made Stamps quarterback Henry Burris look like he came straight from high school, picking him off three times. They scored 28 points off five Calgary turnovers.

The Bombers also played with a huge chip on their shoulder, just like their coach wants them to. When LeFors took a helmet in the head from Brandon Browner in the third quarter, he got up hopping mad and shoved the first Stampeder he saw.

Brouhaha

That push led to quite the brouhaha that resulted in an extra unnecessary roughness penalty for Calgary. It extended Winnipeg's drive that ended with a Giles two-yard touchdown jaunt that put the Bombers up 28-4.

Kelly had no problem with the penalties that came out of the LeFors scrum, and he seemed fine with the overall aggression his team showed. It was the kind of nastiness that hasn't been seen in Winnipeg for quite some time.

"That's why we got rid of all those guys and brought in these," said Kelly, whose 72-year-old mom, Hilda, flew up for Florida for the game. "We went after guys that we thought were going to be aggressive, and that's how we want to play football."

Edwards had 13- and eight-yard touchdown grabs from LeFors, and he saluted Armstrong by flashing his gloves to the TV cameras after the first score. Edwards communicated with Armstrong via text message yesterday morning.

"He's one of my good friends, so I thought about him," Edwards said. "He wished us well. He wanted us to go out here and make plays, so I said if I scored a touchdown I was going to put out one of his gloves and give him a shoutout."

The Stamps got back in the game early in the fourth quarter, making it 28-18 on a Henry Burris one-yard touchdown run, but Shabazz's interception return for a major with 7:26 to go sealed the deal.

The Stamps scored two touchdowns in the last two minutes to make the game appear closer than it actually was.

Giles, a former Stampeder, also had a four-yard touchdown run, while Alexis Serna was good on two of three field-goal attempts, connecting from 40 and 24 yards and missing from 47 that resulted in a single.

LeFors completed 13 of 27 attempts for 156 yards and two touchdowns, and was intercepted once. Running back Fred Reid had 13 carries for 81 yards before twisting his ankle in the second half.

"Our confidence is good right now," Reid said. "We've just got to come out and play hard every like we played tonight. If we do that, we should be OK. The road to the Grey Cup starts now."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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