OTTAWA — It won't go down as their prettiest win of the season, but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will take it.
Zach Collaros connected with Dalton Schoen for a 27-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter to lift Winnipeg to a 19-12 win over the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday night.
Winnipeg coach Mike O'Shea said after a "tough" quarter and a half, the Blue Bombers (2-0-0) started to pick up their play late in the first half.
"I think we moved the ball pretty well in the second half and scored the points we needed to score," he said.
The Redblacks couldn't capitalize on their chances at TD Place, settling for four field goals from Lewis Ward.
“We’re moving the ball, but we’ve got to finish with seven since that was our goal this week (was) to make sure we finish with sevens,” said Ottawa head coach Paul LaPolice. “Especially with this team. You can have a big 50-yard play, but (against) this team, even if you have an explosive play they still keep you out of the end zone.”
With under two minutes in regulation, Ottawa managed to get the ball to the Winnipeg 17-yard line but came up empty-handed. Ottawa (0-2-0) also fell to the Blue Bombers last week in Winnipeg.
Collaros finished the game 15 for 22 for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Ottawa’s Jeremiah Masoli completed 27 of 38 yards for 331 yards.
The Redblacks have a bye week coming up and Masoli said players need to use the time to “flush it all mentally and come back and get on a roll.”
He believes the team is more than capable of winning, but the difference is finishing drives.
"I thought coach called a great game,” said Masoli. “If we had executed a couple more plays we would have been up two possessions."
Winnipeg marched down the field late in the second quarter and Collaros connected with Greg Ellingson for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds remaining.
“I think it was big for us,” said Collaros. “I’m not a denyer of momentum. I think it was big coming into halftime and moving the ball like that offensively to give us a spark.”
Ottawa led 9-7 at the half but seemed to lose momentum after the break against the defending Grey Cup champions.
“We adapted as the game went on and made the adjustments at half,” said Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill. “At the end of the day we found a way to get the job done and that’s what I’m proud of.”
Winnipeg took a 10-9 lead when Marc Liegghio booted a 30-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half.
The Blue Bombers looked poised to take control of the game, but Ellingson - alone in the end zone - dropped a surefire TD pass, forcing Winnipeg to settle for a 22-yard field goal.
Ward hit a 38-yard field goal late in the third quarter to bring Ottawa within a point.
Winnipeg will entertain Hamilton on June 24. Ottawa returns to action on June 30 against the visiting B.C. Lions.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2022.