Ticats nip Bombers 26-25

Winnipeg Blue Bombers LB Henoc Muamba brings down Hamilton Tiger-Cats WR Chris Duvalt during...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers LB Henoc Muamba brings down Hamilton Tiger-Cats WR Chris Duvalt during Canadian Football League exhibition action at Canad Inns Stadium on Wed. June 20, 2012. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)

Jim Bender, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:43 AM ET

It looked like more Blue Bombers hopefuls played their way off the team than on it.

But there were some young guys who looked like keepers after Winnipeg dropped a 26-25 decision to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a CFL pre-season game before 28,300 fans at Canad Inns Stadium on Wednesday night.

The keepers? Running back Bloi-Dei Dorzon, who was on the practice roster last year, was Winnipeg’s most dangerous rusher, defensive back Johnny Sears on both defence and special teams, middle linebacker Henoc Muamba, outside linebacker Dustin Doe and such receivers as Kurt Adams, Chris Matthews, Doug Pierce and Isaac Anderson.

We won’t pretend to tell you we could tell what was going on in the trenches — aside from all those defensive line offsides.

Winnipeg’s Joey Elliott, the fourth quarterback that the Bombers used, almost pulled out an incredible victory in the last moments of the games. Elliott drove the Bombers to within range of the winning field goal, but Eric Wilbur was wide from 37 yards, settling for a single.

“We just came up short,” said Elliott, who completed six of nine passes for 90 yards and one touchdown. “I always want to be in that position, just like a kicker does. As a quarterback, you want that last drive on your shoulders.”

Elliott had completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kurt Adams with less than five minutes to pull the Bombers within 26-24. But Justin Goltz went in to try the tying two-point convert, but failed.

“My hand went numb on a helmet and had to get some feeling back before I went back on the field,” Elliott explained.

Adams was thrilled to score.

“I got so excited, I just ran to the sidelines,” who caught five passes for 82 yards and the one TD. “Man, I heard the crowd here and it was awesome. The fans went crazy … and you get more adrenaline go through your body.”

Adams even kept the football.

“I decided to keep the ball as it was my first CFL touchdown, so you’ve got to hold on to some memories,” he said. “I’m pleased with my performance. You’ve got to make plays in the pre-season and make it tough on the coaches.”

Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice was pleased, too.

“I told them nobody should be ashamed,” he said. “This is a talented group of young players. We have some tough decisions to make (Thursday). They fought back. It was nice they put us into a position to win at the end.

“(But) we have a lot of work to do to get better.”

Early in the fourth quarter, placekicker Justin Palardy connected on Winnipeg’s first field goal try in three attempts, a 27-yarder, to pull the Bombers within 26-18.

The ‘Cats led Winnipeg 26-15 after three quarters. Hamilton quarterback Quinton Porter, who replaced Henry Burris to start the secod half, completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to slotback Aaron Kelly to give the ‘Cats a 23-8 lead early in the third quarter.

The Bombers got that one back when Alex Brink, who replaced Buck Pierce, completed a 14-yard TD toss to wide receiver Doug Pierce. But Hamilton placekicker Josh Maveety hit a 45-yard field goal.

The ‘Cats were simply dominant over Winnipeg in the first half.

Led by Burris, the former Calgary Stampeders quarterback, they took a 16-8 lead over the Blue Bombers into locker room at half.

Both Hamilton placekickers Luca Congi and Josh Maveety scored 23-yard field goals in the second quarter. Pierce connected on a 57-yard pass-and-run play with wide receiver Kito Poblah to set up a one-yard touchdown drive by Brink.

In the first quarter. Maveety connected on a 20-yard field goal late in the first to up the score. Burris had opened the scoring on an 11-yard run.

NOTES: Bombers DB Demond Washington was taken straight to the locker room after a big hit on former Winnipeg receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris in third quarter. Looked like he was out cold and likely has a concussion … Bombers OL Tyson Pencer also suffered an upper body injury, said head coach Paul LaPolice.

 

Bombers Replay

Top offensive player

In the first half alone, Hamilton’s Henry Burris completed 16 of 22 for 188 yards, and rushed for 91 on nine carries, including an 11-yard touchdown run. Honourable mention to Winnipeg QB Buck Pierce, who completed five of 14 passes fo r 154 yards, including long bombs of 57 yards to wide receiver Kito Poblah and 45 to wide receiver Chris Matthews.

Top defensive player

A lot of Bomber defensive backs were up there in tackles, but that’s never a good sign. We liked the work of middle linebacker Henoc Muamba, who unofficially had three defensive tackles and a special teams tackle in the first half.

Top special teamer

Bombers defensive back Johnny Sears was a force covering kicks, then returned a punt 41 yards in the fourth quarter.

Key play

Winnipeg kicker Eric Wilbur was wide on a game-winning 37-yard field goal attempt after Joey Elliott drove the ball down the field to put the team in field goal range.

Smack of the match

Bombers DB Brandon Stewart on Hamilton WR Chris Williams. Toronto RB Cory Boyd tweeted: “Now that hit woke me up.”

Highlight reel

Pierce escaped pressure, scrambled, then hit a wide-open Kito Poblah for a 57-yard gain to set up the Bombers’ first touchdown.

 

 


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