Blue Bombers rally to stun expansion RedBlacks
Winnipeg, MB (SportsNetwork.com) - The expansion Ottawa RedBlacks came out on fire in their first game, but Demond Washington returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and Nic Grigsby scored the go- ahead TD run in Winnipeg's 36-28 win Thursday night at Investors Group Field.
After having a bye in the first week of the 2014 CFL season, Ottawa finally played a football game for the first time since Nov. 5, 2005 making it 3,163 days between games. That's when the Renegades defeated Toronto at Lansdowne Park.
The RedBlacks (0-1) scored 21 points in the first quarter, but the Blue Bombers (2-0) rallied to score the game's final 16 points.
Prior to the Renegades, the first CFL team was the Ottawa Rough Riders, who won the Grey Cup nine times, the last coming in 1976. They last played in 1996.
Winnipeg won consecutive contests for the first time since 2011 when the Bombers had a five-game winning streak. A victory next Friday at Montreal would equal Winnipeg's win total from the 2013 season.
Grigsby rushed for 62 yards and three scores, while Drew Willy completed 21- of-33 passes for 307 yards with an interception.
Henry Burris, starting his 16th CFL season, connected on 17-of-30 attempts for 241 yards and two TDs. Chevon Walker ran for 62 yards and a TD.
Brett Maher's 19-yard field goal early in the final quarter expanded Ottawa's lead to 28-20, but Washington ran the ensuing kickoff back for a major, first cutting right and then to the middle of the field before doing a celebratory dive into the end zone.
The Bombers failed to tie the game at that point when Nick Moore had the ball in his hands in the back left corner of the end zone, but Jerrell Gavins knocked it away on the two-point conversion attempt.
Burris couldn't complete a 3rd-down pass with nearly six minutes left, and the Bombers finished up the go-ahead scoring march. Grisby scored on a 3-yard run to the right side with 2:33 remaining for a 33-28 lead.
Ottawa was forced to punt on the next possession and Lirim Hajrullahu kicked a 37-yard field goal with a half-minute left.
The RedBlacks then turned the ball over on downs as Paris Jackson dropped a potential first down catch in the dying seconds.
The RedBlacks scored on their first offensive series, as Walker surged up the middle for a 3-yard TD run less than four minutes into the game. He also caught a 29-yard pass on the right sideline from Burris, and that was followed by a 26-yard grab from Kierrie Johnson, which moved the ball to the Winnipeg 7. Walker scored two plays later.
Ottawa surged to a 14-0 lead after just seven minutes expired when Burris connected with Dobson Collins on the left side of the field for a 26-yard score. Collins, who played last season for Hamilton, caught the ball at around the 18 before diving into the end zone. That came on the second play of the drive, just after Walker burst off the right side for a 17-yard gain.
Grigsby scored his first touchdown in a Winnipeg uniform by bouncing outside for a 1-yard run with nearly four minutes left in the opening quarter. The Bombers drove 77 yards in six plays, keyed by Moore's 51-yard reception.
Walker shed a tackle during an 8-yard TD reception on the right side of the field on the final play of the first quarter.
Winnipeg pulled within 21-14 on Grigsby's 4-yard TD run up the middle with 6 1/2 minutes remaining, and Hajrullahu kicked a 47-yard field goal on the final play of the first half for the Blue Bombers.
Hajrullahu kicked a 16-yard field goal early in the third, but the Bombers turned the ball over midway through the quarter. Willy fumbled while trying to step up to make a pass, and the miscue resulted in a single point when Maher was wide left on a 49-yard field goal attempt.
Willy appeared to injure his passing hand earlier in the third. He was attempting a pass when defensive lineman Brandon Lang bent the hand backward. Willy remained in the game when the Bombers got the ball back with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the period.
Maher split the uprights from 45 yards away in the final minute of the third for a 25-20 Ottawa edge.
The RedBlacks are at Edmonton next Friday before playing their home opener July 18 against Toronto ... Before the game, the Blue Bombers released veteran defensive back Korey Banks ... Moore had five catches for 88 yards.
07/04 04:25:31 ET