WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers stared a game demon in the eye Thursday night and fired it up immediately.
In their 28-14 win over the Edmonton Elks, the Bombers held the lead and held on after an extraordinary fourth quarter slump against the Ottawa Redplex five days earlier at TD Place.
Zach Kaulos caught 20-24 passes for 308 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Nick Demsky had 115 yards and a touchdown. Kenny Lawler had seven catches for 93 yards in his first game of the season.
Taylor Cornelius was 17-29 for 220 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Dillon Mitchell scored his first touchdown of the year and tied Dimsky’s 115 yards.
The Bombers took advantage of a strong second half to pull away from the Edmonton side who stayed with them for 30 minutes. The Bombers dominated the game, tied 6-6 at halftime, defeating the home team 22-6. With the win, the Bombers improved their record to 5-2, while the Elks continue to strive for their first win of the season at 0-7.
Depth Chart: GED | WPG
Through the Lens: Elk in the Bombers
Watch: The insanity at IG Field to start the game with two interceptions
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The Elks had early momentum after stopping the Bombers on third down and one on their first practice to force a turnover on downs and put their offense at their own 39-yard line. This resulted in two goals and a walkout, but the Elks defense quickly offered another chance. As Kaulos was looking to receive Kenny Lawler, defensive back Marcus Lewis got in front of the pass and made an interception, putting the Elks at Winnipeg’s 41-yard line.
Cornelius and Elk made it to the eight-yard line, only to see the pivot pass roll in and be caught by Bombers defensive tackle Cameron Lawson—who picked up his first career interception—marking the game’s third turnover in the first seven minutes of play.
The Bombers used a 12-play, 99-yard drive to get on the scoreboard and try to take control of the game. Driving Cochos was a reflection of all the muscle he had at his disposal. Lawler gained an impressive 28 yards on the sideline, and Nick Demsky, Dalton Schoen, Rashid Bailey, Drew Wolitarsky and running backs Greg McRae and Brady Oliveira all got the ball on the Elks 2-yard line. Dakota Prokop ran into the end zone for a touchdown at 13:54. The absence of Sergio Castillo left the score 6-0 in favor of the Bombers.
The Elks got on the board at 7:47 of the second quarter thanks to a 28-yard field goal from Dean Faithfull. Soon after, the Elks defense offered another chance in the game. The unit forced its second short turnover of the night, where Prokop lost the ball as he ran into a pile of bodies in front of him. Edmonton linebacker Connie Ealy caught the ball for the Elks at Winnipeg’s 50-yard line.
Although the point didn’t work, the Elks later made it 6-6 with Faithfull’s 30-yard field goal at 13:27 of the second quarter. The Bombers responded with a six-play that put Castillo in position for a 45-yard field goal attempt that went wide, leaving the game tied at halftime.
After a quiet attack in the first half, both teams came back to life in the third quarter.
After a 46-yard field goal from Castillo at 4:34 and a 54-yard penalty kick from Edmonton’s Jake Julian made it 9-7, both teams got their first touchdowns of the game. First, Collors needed to find Demski wide open for a 70-yard TD connection. Castillo’s extra point made it 16-7, but the Elks had a culinary response and put up a much-needed big game. Cornelius looked down the field and found Mitchell for an 80-yard touchdown. The receiver caught his first touchdown of the season. Faithhull converted at 8:57 and left the Bombers with a 16-14 lead.
The Bombers were not deterred by the Elks’ big play. He then ramped up the defense and forced a safety on Cornelius, allowing them to double their lead to 18-14 at 10:31. They closed out the third quarter with a 21-yard field goal from Castillo entering the final frame of the game to a converted touchdown.
The attack bombers took a familiar and methodical approach to opening the fourth. Feeding in and passing the ball steadily, Oliveira completed a nine-play, 81-yard drive, which Kochos ended up with a fake pass to his star quarterback and kicked the ball six yards into Bailey’s end zone. Castillo’s conversion allowed the Raiders to double, 28-14 at 8:14.
Willie Jefferson’s third strike on Cornelius forced the Ilks to run again and gave the Bombers a chance to put the game away. While Edmonton got the ball back, Cornelius was sacked twice, including once by Jefferson over time. On third downs and twenty-fifth, a depressed Cornelius was caught by Demerio Houston and intercepted for the fifth time of the season.
The Elks will return to Commonwealth Stadium next week as they host the BC Lions on Saturday, July 29th. The Bombers are entering a bye week and will see action again on Thursday. August 3, when they hosted the BC Lions at IG Field.