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Bombers hold off Ticats to win their opener

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WINNIPEG – Continuity prevailed Friday night as the veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers edged out the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 42-31.

Zach Kaulos threw three times in the first quarter and was for 354 yards, while Nick Dimsky passed for 100 yards in the first half, and finished with 113 yards on six catches, with a touchdown. Brady Oliveira added 122 rushing yards and a touchdown in the win.

Bo Levi Mitchell passed 18-34 for 187 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Tim White caught five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.

Turnovers plagued the night, as he dropped the ball six times, to the delight of the 29,057 fans who packed IG Stadium. They rectified that with two special teams touchdowns and the defensive score to come back in a game that seemed out of reach in the first half.

Box Score: Bombers, Ticats in numbers
» Gallery: Ticats in the launcher images
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WATCH: Collaros started strong with three first quarter touchdowns

Lawrence Woods III scares the Bombers in their season opener (Jonathan Kosop/CFL.ca)

Mitchell did not find the end zone in his first official outing as a Tiger-Cat, but his team fell short of it by a few points. Seth Small made his first field goal attempt of the season, sending a 37-yard attempt through the uprights to give the Techets a 3-0 lead, 3:20 into the game.

The Bombers went through a pair of emotional upheavals before taking the lead in the game. On the way past Hamilton’s basket, Demski missed a pass from Colrasos, who quickly put Mitchell and Tekatz back on the court. On that drive, Mitchell was looking for a first down on second and 10, when he was intercepted by Demerio Houston. The third-year defensive back blocked the touchline to play the standout role in regaining control of his team.

Demski had a good turnover when six plays later he found Karski on a 17-yard run that Demski launched for a touchdown. A Sergio Castillo conversion made it 7-3 at 8:06.

After the Ticats added a single on a Bailey Flint punt, the Kolaros made sure the Bombers’ offense continued. He led them on a quick four play drive, which he capped off with a 10-yard pass to Rashid Bailey, who made his way into the end zone, helping propel Winnipeg to a 10-yard lead. 14-4.

Mutations continued to harm Tecate. Running back James Butler quickly ran 16 yards to the Bombers’ 41-yard line when he fumbled after being tagged. Collaros pushed them on short notice, finding Drew Wolitarsky to set up a five-play rally with a 30-yard touchdown pass to blow up the game. Castillo’s conversion came against the clock at the zeros, giving the Bombers a 21-4 lead after just 15 minutes of play.

The Bombers’ momentum slowed slightly at the five-minute mark of the second quarter when the Collos were whistled for an intentional grounding. This led to Castillo’s 34-yard field goal to take Winnipeg’s lead to 20, at 24-4.

Tecates’ defense had something to fall back on late in the first half. The group was able to force a spinning touchdown with 1:10 remaining, as Tyrrell Pigrome was stuffed at the one-yard line. Plus, the Bombers walked into their locker room at halftime with something to cheer about.

And they found others building on it at the beginning of the third chapter. Mitchell was sacked at 2:55 when Bombers defensive lineman Willie Jefferson forced a loose ball. Diatric Nichols picked it up and it led to Castillo’s 19-yard field goal, making it 29-4.

Just as the TSN team of Dustin Nielsen and Duane Forde announced that the Tiger-Cats needed to find some kind of positive play to try and get into the game, they came to them.

Carthell Flowers-Lloyd was on special teams to block Jamieson Sheahan’s punt, a errant ball that bounced into the Bombers’ end zone. Omar Baylis pounced on him, earning the Techets their first touchdown of the season. An ambitious Mitchell was looking for a two-point conversion, but his pass attempt in the end zone was intercepted by Houston, leaving the score at 32-10 midway through the third quarter.

After a quiet first half to receiver Tim White, Mitchell set about scoring the most valuable goal of the third quarter. His throw to White 10 yards behind the end zone gave him his first touchdown pass as a Tiger-Cat, but it came at a cost as White left the game with an upper body injury. Small’s conversion at 11:42 put the Techets down in the game, 32-17.

Sensing any kind of momentum from their opponents, the Bombers worked quickly to regain control of the game. Kaulousos drove 46 yards on five plays Brady Oliveira finished with a three-yard delivery. Castillo hit a home run to close out the third quarter, helping his team take a 39-17 lead.

To their credit, the Ticats kept fighting. Veteran D-Lincoln forced a fumble by Ted Laurent when he caught the ball, as rookie Hamilton Chris Edwards caught the ball and ran it 62 yards for a touchdown. Mitchell was again unable to secure the two-point conversion, but the Ticats special teams unit quickly sent the assist his way.

Bombers returner Janarion Grant was hit by Kyle Wilson, popping the ball high in the air as Grant was just steps away from his attempt. The loose ball fell to Frazier Sobeck and the Western producer returned the ball to the Bombers’ two-yard line. Butler hit the field goal and Mitchell immediately found Duke Williams for the two-point conversion and with less than nine minutes to play that seemingly insurmountable lead was trimmed to eight points, at 39-31.

Although there were a few hits, the bombers were not completely shaken. Facing a big test in the opening game, Castillo coolly kicked a 50-yard field goal at 10:06 to extend the Bombers’ lead to 11.

On third-and-ten with Mitchell needing two yards, he was sacked by Celestine Haba, which led to the team’s sixth turnover of the night.

Each team will face its major rivals during the second week. The Blue Bombers travel to Saskatchewan to take on the Roughriders, while the Tiger-Cats travel to BMO Field to take on the defending Gray Cup champion Toronto Argonauts in the season opener. .

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