Young songstress spurs Blue to victory

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:27 AM ET

Maybe the Blue Bombers should hire the Folklorama kid who sang the national anthem Saturday to become their own Kate Smith.

That six-year-old girl, Vina Dimayuga, received a standing ovation from the 26,041 fans for her rousing edition of O Canada with even some of Winnipeg’s import players encouraging the crowd to give the youngster a salute.

That seemed to spark the Bombers, who got off to their quickest start of the season en route to a 47-21 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos.

Just a week after sucking on both offence and defence in Hamilton — especially in the trenches — they both came out with a vengeance right off the opening whistle.

Or should we say off the opening anthem?

“You know what, she’s pretty good,” said Bomber cornerback LaVar Glover, who had a momentum-turning interception in the third quarter. “She should be on American Idol, or Canadian Idol, or something … She started the game off right.”

Rookie slotback Terence Jeffers-Harris, who scored a touchdown on a 46-yard reception, was downright emotional.

“I don’t want to sound like a wuss but I almost cried,” he said. “She had a great voice.”

Sure, the Bombers were already motivated to rebound after Hamilton had hammered them 28-7 the week before, but the anthem even got the crowd into the game before the opening whistle.

“It added to the aura,” said import offensive lineman Kelly Butler, who was leading the cheers for the promising young singer.

“A loss like that makes you more hungry for the next game,” Glover said. “Last week, in practice, I couldn’t wait to get back on the field. We didn’t play our best; I didn’t play my best against Hamilton. We wanted to get back on the field and show what we could do in this game, and we showed it.

“Most of the guys played with a chip on our shoulder and that gave us momentum for the next week.”

The defensive linemen, otherwise known as Phantoms in Steeltown as Kevin Glenn had enough time to Tweet 20 people before he threw passes, were in Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray’s face in the opening 20 minutes.

They put so much pressure on Ray that Moton Hopkins — a rookie defensive lineman of all people — actually intercepted a pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring.

The line had lots of help from the linebackers and the secondary shut down two of the most feared slotbacks in the CFL, namely Fred Stamps and Kelly Campbell.

The Bombers survived a scare as the Eskimos converted two turnovers into touchdowns to pull within 23-14.

But they did not let down.

Glover squelched Edmonton’s hopes of a comeback when he picked off a Ray pass intended for Campbell, setting up the TD that gave the Bombers a 33-14 lead.

On the other side of the ball, the Bombers introduced a more creative attack than they had a week ago, despite the fact they were starting backup quarterback Steven Jyles.

And Jyles looked more like a starter than a backup.

In his first start as the Winnipeg QB — and only second of his CFL career — Jyles completed 14 of 22 passes for 267 yards and one touchdown, with two picks.

Jyles also scampered for 63 yards and two touchdowns.

In other words, injured QB Buck Pierce can take his time rehabbing his knee injury.

Jyles, too, had lots of help, including the O-line.

Jyles was only sacked twice and he was given enough time to complete some long passes.

So just don’t be surprised if young Miss Vina is invited to sing the anthem again.

And again.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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