Brown turns heads against Elks
QB engineers pair of scoring drives in exhibition tilt
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It was near the end of the first quarter when Blue Bombers quarterback Dru Brown completed a pass to rookie receiver Dalton Schoen for no gain near the Edmonton Elks goal line.
In the end zone on the opposite side of the field, Captain Blue — the Bombers’ mascot who drives a plane out onto the turf for a lap or two after the home team scores — thought it was a touchdown and took flight.
But hey, Friday night at IG Field was the preseason for everybody. Despite some hiccups and rookie mistakes along the way, the 20,518 fans in attendance witnessed a relatively entertaining game with the visiting Elks edging out the Bombers 30-20 in exhibition action.
More important than the result of the game was the strong performance of third-string pivot Dru Brown. Brown, an Oklahoma State product in his second year in the CFL after seeing some action in last season’s meaningless regular season finale in Calgary, played the first and third quarters for the Blue and Gold. After an impressive 49-yard toss to Nic Demski in the opening quarter, Brown capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Schoen to trail the Elks 10-7.
In the third quarter, Brown finished a six-play drive with a two-yard sneak for a touchdown.
“I think it went pretty good. Still some things that I think I can improve on,” Brown said. “But I felt like I was seeing the pictures good and that’s what I want to show the staff.”
Schoen, a Kansas State product who spent some time on the practice squad for both the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Commanders in 2021, has been turning heads since rookie camp. Schoen, one of 11 receivers trying out for the Bombers, finished the night with four catches for 27 yards, with one of them going for 19 yards. Demski led the Bombers with 80 receiving yards on three catches.
“I got fortunate to get the ball come my way a couple times and I tried to make some plays. I did what I could do to prove myself and try to help this team win,” said Schoen.
“(The touchdown) was definitely a good feeling. Shout out to our line for giving Dru time and he put the ball on the money. So, obviously, that’s a fun experience for me.”
Bombers backup quarterback Dakota Prukop also had a rushing score as he found the end zone from eight yards out in the second quarter. But outside of that, it was a rough Bombers debut for Prukop who threw a pair of picks and completed less than 40 per cent of his passes.
Edmonton gave quarterback reps to Nick Arbuckle, Canadian rookie Tre Ford, Kai Locksley, and last year’s starter Taylor Cornelius. Arbuckle was the best of the bunch, completing nine of 10 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Ford made some plays with his legs, scampering for 47 yards on five attempts, but only connected on one of three throws for 17 yards. Arbuckle was sacked by Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill on Edmonton’s first drive but bounced back with a perfect 58-yard touchdown play to Caleb Holley.
Running back Brady Oliveira started for the Bombers but would only get three carries for 19 yards. Johnny Augustine got a bit more work, taking six handoffs for 54 yards. Fellow Canadian runner Kyle Borsa managed three yards on four attempts.
“Despite what’s talked about or written, I believe the plan going (into the season) was to utilize (Oliveira and Augustine),” said head coach Mike O’Shea.
Evan Holm, a defensive back out of the University of North Dakota who the Bombers signed late last week, fumbled on a punt return in the second quarter.
The Bombers offensive line stood tall and didn’t give up a single sack. Edmonton’s passers were taken down three times, with Bighill, Manitoba Bisons defensive lineman and 2022 fourth-round pick Cole Adamson, and linebacker Malik Clements getting the sacks.
The hosts only led once, 20-17 after Brown’s rushing TD, but the Elks would score the game’s final 13 points.
The Bombers will only have a few days to learn from this one as they will close out their preseason on Tuesday in Regina in a meeting with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“Well, we lost (but) I think there’s some young guys that got a lot of snaps. We asked them to play a lot and we took some of our veteran players out pretty early so, those guys got a lot of work,” O’Shea said.
“I like that our quarterbacks were able to drive the field and I thought there was some pretty big plays on defence, some nice hits. We’ll look at the film and obviously, everybody will have corrections to make and hopefully in four days’ time, we’ll be better than we were tonight.”
The Bombers will open the regular season on June 10 at home against the Ottawa RedBlacks.
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Updated on Friday, May 27, 2022 11:35 PM CDT: Adds post-game quotes