Special meeting

GERRY MODDEJONGE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

Sometimes the small battles win the war.

Although all the attention was on the less-than-stellar offensive display by both sides, there was an interesting skirmish taking place on special teams that turned into a game-breaker.

UNCONQUERABLE

Edmonton Eskimos kicker Noel Prefontaine and Winnipeg Blue Bombers return man Jovon Johnson were on opposite ends of the 118-yard missed field-goal return that turned into an unconquerable 10-point swing on the scoreboard to open the second half.

But things began brewing long before that.

"That's pretty funny, a kicker and a returner battling it out, but it just turned out to be that way tonight a little bit," Prefontaine said following Friday's game.

It all started when Prefontaine broke for a 31-yard gain on a fake punt and, instead of heading out of bounds, put his head down and ran right into Johnson's tackle, keeping the drive alive and scoring on a field goal to take a 10-6 lead in the second quarter.

"Prefontaine's a competitor, you know," Johnson said. "He faked us out with the (punt) and he was running at me like he was going to run me over and I was like, 'Oh, no.' "

The pair met again on the ensuing kickoff when Prefontaine sprinted downfield and collided with the Bombers return man, standing him up for teammate Chris Ciezki to finish off the tackle.

"I got a good pop on him and we took two jabs at each other," Prefontaine said. "I think I'd rather have his jab, though, it was worth more."

"To come back on the kickoff return and try to hit me the way he did, I knew he was a competitor," Johnson said. "But at the same time I definitely had the last laugh. He missed a field goal and I made him pay for it."

Prefontaine had a different viewpoint.

"Obviously it's a kick I wish I had back," said Prefontaine. "It's one of those things where a team returns it for a touchdown, it gets magnified. It was a crucial time for us and put us more in the hole than we already were.

"He did a good job and they did a good job blocking."

Prefontaine would have had a shot at knocking Johnson out of bounds if it wasn't for a vicious block by Bombers defensive halfback Jonathan Hefney.

"When I got to the sideline and I was running, I was kind of getting tired and I saw him celebrating in front of me, but the kicker had a pretty good angle," Johnson said.

"I was like, 'Oh, we can't have this.' So I pointed out the block and good thing that he knew what I was talking about so he turned around and made the play."

OPPOSING KICKER

Duelling it out with the opposing kicker isn't a position where Johnson often finds himself, but he'll definitely take it.

"If I'm going back and forth with the kicker then that means that I'm usually having a good return," he said. "I'll take on that opportunity any day."

GERRY.MODDEJONGE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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