WINNIPEG – Blue Bombers’ running back Brady Oliveira rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries to lead Winnipeg to a 28-20 victory over the B.C. Lions in the West Division final on Sunday afternoon.
Oliveira also caught four passes for 37 yards before 30,319 fans at IG Field.
The Bombers are now one win away from winning three consecutive CFL championships for the first time in franchise history. And they could win three consecutive Grey Cup titles for the first time since 1982 (Edmonton) when they take on the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup game in Regina next Sunday. The Argos defeated the Montreal Alouettes 34-27 in the East Division final.
Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros completed 14 of 20 passes for 178 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to receiver Dalton Schoen, with one interception.
Bombers’ punt returner Janarion Grant also returned a kicked 92 yards for a touchdown and backup quarterback Dakota Prukop scored on a two-yard TD run.
Winnipeg placekicker Marc Liegghio kicked field goals of 44, 24 and 16 yards and connected on only one of three convert attempts.
B.C. quarterback Nathan Rourke completed 20 of 37 passes for 299 yards, including a 14-yard TD toss to receiver Alexander Hollins, with two picks. Backup quarterback Antonio Pipkin also scored on a two-yard run.
Sean Whyte booted a 42-yard field goal and kicked two converts. Punter Stefan Flintoft also kicked a 56-yard single. Returner Terry Williams also scored two points on a missed convert return.
The Lions pulled to within 28-20 with less than three minutes to play. Rourke completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Hollins. Whyte’s convert made the score 28-20.
Prukop capped off a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard TD run, which gave Winnipeg a 25-11 lead. However, Lions’ returner Terry Williams returned Liegghio’s missed convert 126-yards for two points to make the score 25-13. It was the first missed-convert-return for two in CFL playoff history.
The Lions opened the scoring in the second half when Whyte booted a 42-yard field goal on their opening drive to pull B.C. to within 19-11.
Liegghio connected on a 24-yard field goal on the last play of a sloppily-played first half to give the Bombers a 19-8 lead over B.C.
Grant made amends for fumbling the ball away when he returned a Stefan Flintoft punt 92 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Liegghio’s convert gave Winnipeg a 16-7 lead. It was the second-longest punt return in Bombers playoff history. Jason Arnstead returned one for 93 yards in 2008.
Liegghio kicked a 44-yard field goal to give the Bombers a 9-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
B.C. took advantage of some big breaks on their first possession. First, the command centre overturned a Bombers blocked punt, claiming the player who blocked it (linebacker Tanner Cadwallader) should be charged with roughing the kicker.
Then, Grant fumbled the ball on a punt return. Lions defensive lineman Mathieu Betts recovered the ball at the Winnipeg eight and returned it to the two. Pipkin then scored on a two-yard run. Whyte’s convert gave B.C. a 7-6 lead.
The Bombers had opened the scoring on their first possession. After taking the opening kickoff, their six-play, 74-yard scoring drive was capped with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Collaros to Schoen. The drive was keyed by a 40-yard completion to Demski. Liegghio missed the convert.
NOTES: The Lions played without dangerous receiver Lucky Whitehead. … Bombers receiver Rasheed Bailey started after being a game-time decision.