Bombers edge Ti-Cats in Hall of Fame game
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, September 21, 2008 11:09AM CST
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats may have had the worst records in the CFL heading into their Friday night match-up but both teams were looking to begin the final third of the regular season with a win and a final push for a playoff spot.
Winnipeg got the upper hand, holding on for a 25-23 win over the Ticats in front of 19,102 at Ivor Wynne Stadium in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame game.
The Blue Bombers improve to 4-8 as they try to move up on the East's second-place team Toronto who was 4-7 heading into Saturday's game against Calgary. The Ticats, meanwhile, have stalled at 2-10 despite new coach Marcel Bellefeuille taking the reins for the second game in a row. Both teams have six games left.
"I think we've made some decent progress in this middle third of the season and hopefully we can kick off and carry on to give us the extra momentum that we're going to need," in order to make the playoffs, said Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry.
Winnipeg was up 24-15 early in the fourth quarter before Hamilton mounted a comeback. Both teams missed field goals in the final minutes and ultimately the final score came down to a couple of safeties.
"I was really proud of them tonight to hang on because we lost one a couple weeks ago that we thought we had as well," said Berry, referring to a 34-31 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in which the Blue Bombers were up by 17 points.
Meanwhile, the Tiger-Cats still believe they are in the hunt.
"This is a crazy league," said Bellefeuille. "We can still get in the playoffs. ... Until you're mathematically out, you're not out."
Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn completed 28 of 37 pass attempts for 368 yards and two touchdowns.
Hamilton starting quarterback Casey Printers completed 8-of-19 attempts for 110 yards and one touchdown. He was nursing a tender ankle by the end of the first half and was replaced in the third with back-up Quinton Porter who completed 11-of-17 attempts for 183 yards and one touchdown.
Derick Armstrong and Terrance Edwards scored touchdowns for Winnipeg. Scott Mitchell, Terry Caulley and Prechae Rodriguez scored for Hamilton.
Winnipeg kicker Alexis Serna was two-of-three in field goals, hitting from 26 and 42 yards, and sending a 36-yard attempt rolling along the ground after a botched snap.
That last field goal attempt could have iced the game for the Blue Bombers with less than three minutes left. Instead, Hamilton came back to set up a 25-yard attempt for Nick Setta. That snap was also bad and the ball missed wide left for the final score.
This was the Canadian Football Hall of Fame game in which this year's inductees Doug Flutie, Mike (Pinball) Clemons, Mike Pringle, John Bonk and builder Tom Shepherd received their jackets and unveiled their bronzed busts during the halftime.
It was also the first game since the death of Ron Lancaster. The legendary Saskatchewan quarterback died of a heart attack on Thursday. He had been with the Ticat organization since 1998, leading them to a Grey Cup as coach in 1999 and was currently special advisor of organizational development. The Ticats wore decals on their helmets for the game with a green number `23', Lancaster's number as a player. The stadium stood for a video tribute and a moment of silence before the game began, with his family standing near the sidelines.
A 42-yard Winnipeg field goal made it 22-15 heading into the fourth quarter. A goal line stand by the Ticats kept the Blue Bombers off the scoreboard when Winnipeg tried to convert a third-and-goal at the one early in the fourth. It ultimately resulted in Setta conceding a safety on Hamilton's next possession.
Porter hit Rodriguez with a 42-yard pass to pull the Ticats to 24-22 with 9:51 left in the game. That was Porter's first touchdown pass as a Tiger-Cat.