December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
New GM. New CEO. New starting QB. Same old tired result.
A week of upheaval at Investors Group Field came to a very familiar conclusion Friday night as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were beaten for the fifth game in a row -- and sixth time in their first seven games -- 37-18 by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
If the hope in jettisoning former CEO Garth Buchko and GM Joe Mack last week was to light a spark and give this team a fresh start coming out of the bye week, the plan clearly failed its first big test as the Bombers quickly fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter and never really did threaten all night long.
The loss dropped the Bombers record to 1-6 -- while division rival Hamilton improved to 3-4 with their second road win in a row -- and leaves Winnipeg in even more desperate circumstances as they now head out on the road for their next two games, next Saturday in Guelph against Hamilton and then Labour Day Sunday in Regina against the high-flying Roughriders.
The Bombers' quarterbacking situation has become like Maritime weather -- if you don't like it, just wait a couple of minutes and it will change.
Winnipeg fans got to see all three of the club's quarterbacks Friday night. CFL rookie Max Hall got the start and had a respectable first half, going 10-12 for 129 yards and throwing for a TD that capped an impressive 103-yard second-quarter drive.
But Hall also fumbled in the second quarter and threw a pair of second-half interceptions and had to make way for backup Buck Pierce midway through the third quarter after he got planted by a Hamilton defender and was shaken up. Pierce got to play for a couple series -- he went 2-2 for 9 yards -- before Hall returned at the end of the third quarter and went on to finish the game. His final numbers -- 18-30 for 241 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTS.
Toss in a couple of cameo appearances with the wildcat package for third stringer -- and former first stringer -- Justin Goltz and Winnipeg literally threw everything they had at the Ticats.
A remarkable crowd of 32,409 -- about 1,000 short of a sellout -- turned out for the first game since the club gave the gas to their former CEO and GM.
The turnout was the second biggest crowd of the season and, given the woeful state of the team's record, had to be seen at least in part as a vote by the fan faithful in favour of the club's recent front-office moves.
Alas, by night's end the final result was the same as it's always been at Investors Group Field, where the Bombers are still winless after four games in their shiny new $200-million football palace.
If everyone had played as gritty and as effectively as the veteran Bombers slotback, the Bombers would have run away with this one.
Despite being shaken up in the first half and missing a couple of series, Edwards still led all Bombers receivers with eight catches for 172 yards and was Hall's go-to receiver anytime the Bombers found themselves in second and long -- which was often, as usual.
Hamilton QB Henry Burris torched the Winnipeg secondary in the first half, completing 15 of 19 attempts for 250 yards and 1 TD. Burris finished the night 22-36, 333 yards and 1 TD.
With Hamilton clinging to a 10-7 lead with under three minutes to play in the second quarter, Ticats QB Henry Burris hooked up with receiver Onrea Jones for a 25-yard TD, capping a three-play, 62-yard quick-strike that seemed to take the life out of whatever designs the Bombers had on fighting back.
10-0 -- The Bombers were down double digits to the Ticats after just the first 10:34 of the first quarter and have now held a lead after the first quarter just once in their last nine regular-season games.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2013 C1
Updated on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 9:01 AM CDT: