Worst Bombers start in years ... and the ending wasn't winning, either

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce watches from the sidelines during the first half of...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce watches from the sidelines during the first half of their CFL football game against the Montreal Alouettes in Winnipeg June 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:01 AM ET

WINNIPEG - It was quite possibly the worst start the Bombers have had in years.

To make it even worse, it was in the first game at brand new Investors Group Field.

The Bombers, to their credit, did not let the Montreal Alouettes walk away with last night’s 2013 CFL season lid-lifter at Investors Group Field. They battled back and even took a nine-point lead, but the veteran savvy of the Alouettes ended up ruling the day.

The Bombers bounced back from a 14-0 hole just five minutes into the game, took a 33-24 lead in the third quarter on a Demond Washington punt return but ultimately dropped a 38-33 in front of 33,500 spectators at a deafening IGF. Winnipeg committed five turnovers.

The Bombers and Alouettes will do battle again next Thursday in Montreal in the first of five back-to-backs this season for the Blue and Gold.

The Bombers led 33-31 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Alouettes took the lead thanks to a critical Jovon Johnson pass interference penalty. The Als faced second-and-25 on their own 19-yard line, but Anthony Calvillo heaved up a long toss for Arland Bruce. The pass fell incomplete, but Johnson got tagged for pass interference when he held Bruce’s left arm.

Sean Whyte booted a 34-yard field goal two plays later, and the Als retook the lead with 4:28 to go. He added a 36-yarder with 1:41 to go, and the Bombers turned the ball over on downs three plays later. Whyte’s punt single in the final minute rounded out the scoring.

Quarterback Buck Pierce’s first pass at IGF wasn’t a memorable one, as Geoff Tisdale picked off his intended toss for Clarence Denmark. Three plays later, Chris Jennings capped of a quick 40-yard drive with a three-yard scamper to quiet the home crowd.

After Winnipeg’s ensuing two-and-out, Tyron Carrier returned a 40-yard Mike Renaud punt 78 yards for Montreal’s second major in less than two minutes.

It was stunned silence at the brand new ball park.

The Bombers slowly but surely started chipping away, however. Pierce found Clarence Denmark with a 46-yard toss down the sideline, but the Bombers eventually had to settle for Justin Palardy’s 35-yard field goal.

Winnipeg got its first turnover of the game late in the first quarter when Calvillo’s pass to Jamel Richardson bounced off Brandon Stewart’s foot and into his mitts. Washington returned it to the Montreal six, and three plays later Pierce hit Chris Matthews with a three-yard touchdown toss for Winnipeg’s first TD at IGF.

Matthews, who was a game-time decision because of a twisted ankle earlier in the week, celebrated like he said he would, by doing his own version of the Lambeau Leap into the north endzone crowd.

Renaud booted a punt single early in the second quarter to get Winnipeg to within three, but Whyte hoofed 36- and 35-yard field goals to push the visitors’ lead to 20-11.

The Als conceded a safety to make it a 20-13 game, and Whyte booted a nine-yard field goal on the last play of the half that gave Montreal a 10-point advantage at the half.

After Manitoba-born rocker Tom Cochrane delivered a half-time set, the Bombers came out flying in the third quarter. Pierce hooked up with Jade Etienne, the much-maligned third-year receiver with a 65-yard catch and run on the first play from scrimmage, and Denmark snagged an eight-yard pass in the end zone on the next play.

After a quick Montreal two-and-out, Winnipeg grabbed its first lead of the game when Washington, who should have been dead and buried a couple times, danced around for a while before going wide to the right and racing 80 yards for the game’s second punt return touchdown of the game.

Winnipeg extended its lead to 30-23 on Palardy’s 23-yard field goal, but the Alouettes got one back on a Whyte punt single. The Bombers marched right back down the field, however, and got a 48-yard field goal from Palardy that made it a nine-point game.

Calvillo is not the legend that he is for no reason, though. After the Bombers decided to punt from their own end zone, Calvillo took advantage of the excellent field position and hit S.J. Green with a 42-yard strike to get Montreal within two, at 33-31.

The Bombers lost defensive tackle J.T. Gilmore to an injury in the third quarter. He was replaced by non-import Ryan Lucas.

 

 


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