Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Bombers post emotional win over Lions

  • Print

WINNIPEG -- It started as a defensive affair; a fitting tribute for a beloved coach.

It ended with concern about the starting quarterback.

The first game for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers since the sudden, shocking death of defensive line and assistant head coach Richard Harris was, as expected, difficult to digest, given all the emotion involved.

The Bombers got through the teary affair, as professional sport forces you to do at times, and beat the visiting B.C. Lions 25-20 before a sellout crowd of 29,533 at Canad Inns Stadium Thursday night. The game story, however, evolved into a different anxiety for the football club as it pertains to the product on the field.

Quarterback Buck Pierce was forced to leave the game in the fourth quarter with what the club is calling a strained calf muscle, an injury he suffered early in the game. Pierce took a number of shots all game — the Lions four sacks were not indicative of the beating he actually received — but his prognosis was positive afterwards.

"I tried to keep on moving it, keep moving on it," Pierce said of his leg injury. "On that last run, it just really tightened up and pulled on me."

Pierce figures to be OK to play a week from today, when the Bombers — check that, the 4-1 Bombers — host the unbeaten Edmonton Eskimos.

The Lions dropped to 0-5.

Head coach Paul LaPolice, who like all of the players looked completely exhausted after the game, didn’t hesitate on yanking Pierce, given how the Winnipeg offence was firing.

While the 82-yard strike to Clarence Denmark to open the second half erased a poor initial 30 minutes and got the crowd back into the game, Pierce wasn’t finding he same success he had in Toronto.

His final numbers: 11-of-18 for 206 yards and one touchdown, but the offence seemingly couldn’t get out of second gear all evening.

As he walked off towards he lockerroom in the fourth, second-year QB Alex Brink, the man who was booed off the field the last time these clubs met at the Polo Park stadium, turned in a small slice of redemption.

His numbers, 4-of-8 for 52 yards and a touchdown, were good enough to pass, but it was that one passing touchdown (a 22-yard strike to SB Terrence Edwards with 3:41 left in the game) that gave the Bombers the final lead in the seesaw battle.

The other offensive hero for the Blue and Gold: Winnipeg kicker Justin Palardy, who went 4-for-4 from field goal range. Lions kicker Paul McCallum also had a 4-for-4 night, as the offences sputtered to find a rhythm.

Lions QB Travis Lulay was 16-of-31 for 195 yards. He also rushed for 37 yards. B.C.’s only major was when RB Jamal Robertson scored on a five-yard run in the first half, as the Lions carried a 13-6 lead into the break.

Despite the Winnipeg victory and loss of Pierce from the game, Thursday night wasn’t about wins or losses.

"Just relief," DT Doug Brown said on how he felt after the game, the emotional drain of the past two days after Harris’ death showing on his tired face. "That was probably the most difficult game most guys in this dressing-room ever had to play.

"Hopefully it’s going to get easier."

The game started with an emotional tribute to Harris, a moment of silence with both club sharing condolences in the middle of the field.

Brown, who fought back the tears before the game, said that moving moment — not to mention this whole shocking week of events — left the players with half a tank of gas before the kickoff.

"We weren’t going to ride a wave of anything heading into this one," he said. "It was a wave of sorrow, and we had to dig so deep… we were so drained. We were spent. At halftime, we just looked each other in the eye and we knew what we had to do."

The Bombers as a team put six sacks on Lulay, an apt tribute for a defensive front that has thrived under Harris’ leadership.

After the game, the Bombers as a team gave the game ball to Harris’ widow, Tami, a fitting gesture to cap an emotional night.

If you're going to the game tonight, send us your photos of the tribute.




Updated on Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 8:29 PM CDT: Adds half-time score

10:55 PM: Adds detail about injury to Bombers quarterback

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Andrew Ladd talks about his injury

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A  young goose stuffed with bread from  St Vital park passers-by takes a nap in the shade Thursday near lunch  –see Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge Day 29-June 28, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google