Liegghio scores a late field goal to put the Blue Bombers past the Redblacks in the season opener

Marc Liegghio connected for 25 yards with six seconds left to lift the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 19-17 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks in the season opener for the two teams on Friday.

Backup quarterback Dru Brown engineered the game-winning drive after injured starter Zach Collaros left the game with less than two minutes left.

Collaros was hit as he ran for a first down and slowly got up. He was taken out of the game by an injury watcher.

The win gave the Blue Bombers 10 straight wins at IG Field.

RCMP officers carried the Gray Cup onto the field before kickoff, staging the unveiling of the Bombers’ 2021 Gray Cup banner to cheers from 26,002 fans.

Collaros completed 18 of 26 pass attempts for 188 yards and a touchdown.

Jeremiah Masoli made his Rouge et Noir debut after signing with Ottawa (0-1) in February following his release from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He was 24 for 34 for 380 yards with a TD and an interception.

Brady Oliveira made his first start as Winnipeg’s No. 1 running back and had 10 carries for 17 yards.

Devonte Williams, replacing injured Ottawa starting tailback William Powell, made his first CFL start and rushed nine times for 33 yards.

It was the first meeting between the Bombers and the Rouge et Noir since Paul LaPolice, who stepped down as the Bombers’ offensive coordinator following the team’s Gray Cup victory in 2019, took over as head coach in Ottawa.

Shaquille Johnson had a TD reception for Ottawa. Lewis Ward scored three field goals at 17, 39 and 43 yards and was good on a convert. Winnipeg (1-0) also conceded a single.

Winnipeg got touchdowns from receiver Greg Ellingson and backup quarterback Dakota Prukop. Liegghio also had a 20-yard field goal and a convert.

The game was tied 7-7 after the first quarter. Ottawa led 11-10 at halftime and 14-10 after the third.

A broken play helped set up the game’s first touchdown.

Collaros was under pressure and rushed, then returned a shovel pass to Oliveria for a 24-yard gain at Ottawa’s three-yard line. After a two-yard loss on a run from Oliveira, Collaros connected with Ellingson for a five-yard touchdown at 8:44.

The Redblacks responded with Johnson behind cover and catching a 20-yard pass into the end zone at 10:47.

The teams traded field goals in the second quarter, leaving the game tied 10-10 at 4:25. Ottawa took the lead when the Bombers conceded a punt single at 11:19.

Missed Opportunities

Les Rouge et Noir missed chances to score points in the first half. Receiver Jaelon Acklin dropped what could have been a TD pass, while the defense couldn’t hang on to a few potential interceptions.

Ward’s 39-yard field goal at 9:34 of the third made it 14-10.

With 2:44 left in the third quarter, Masoli’s long bomb for Justin Hardy was picked up by Bombers defensive back Nick Taylor. The turnover fizzled for no points.

After a turnover on Ottawa tries, Winnipeg sent the ball downfield for Prukop’s one-yard touchdown. The drive was helped by a 27-yard catch by rookie Dalton Schoen.

Liegghio’s point then went wide to give the Bombers a 16-14 lead at 8:50 of the fourth quarter.

The Rougenoirs regained the lead with 3:30 left on Ward’s 43-yard field goal, a drive powered by a 51-yard catch by Acklin.

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