Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris (33) is tackled by B.C. Lions’ Aaron Grymes (36) during the first half CFL football action in Vancouver on Saturday, June 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

VANCOUVER — Drew Wolitarsky reeled in a pair of touchdowns Saturday, helping his Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 33-23 road victory over the B.C. Lions.

The game marked the season opener for both teams.

Bombers (1-0) quarterback Matt Nichols tossed for 184 yards and three touchdowns, finishing 21 of his 33 passing attempts. Former Vancouver Island Raiders star (and ex-Lion) Andrew Harris rushed 16 times for 148 yards for Winnipeg.

Mike Reilly tallied 324 passing yards for the Lions (0-1), connecting on 22-of 39-attempts. He threw one TD pass and two interceptions.

The contest pitted a proven Winnipeg squad against a B.C. roster that was entirely revamped over the off-season.

Mistakes plagued the Lions early, including slips, dropped balls and multiple interceptions.

Reilly was able to connect on B.C.’s second drive of the night, sending a 41-yard toss to receiver Bryan Burnham. The pair connected on the next play, too, but B.C. couldn’t quite finish and settled for a 23-yard field goal from kicker Sergio Castillo to open the scoring.

The Bombers got on the board 3:30 into the second quarter when Nichols slipped free of the Lions defence and sent a five-yard pass to receiver Darvin Adams, who was wide-open in the end zone.

B.C. pushed back but struggled to break through Winnipeg’s defence.

A 40-yard field goal from Castillo brought the Lions within a single point midway through the quarter, but not for long.

Nichols responded with a massive 43-yard pass to Adams, setting up another Bombers strike. Three plays later, the quarterback stepped out of the pocket and connected with Wolitarsky for a 15-yard touchdown pass.

Lions running back Brandon Rutley then re-ignited the flagging Vancouver crowd, streaking from one end of the field to the other with a 108-yard punt return to score B.C.’s first touchdown of the game.

Castillo added a 45-yard field goal to put the Lions up 17-14 going into the half.

READ MORE: Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The third quarter started with a flurry of activity.

First, Winnipeg’s Jeff Hecht picked off a pass from Reilly to receiver Duron Carter. His teammates took advantage of the opportunity minutes later, with Wolitarsky collecting a seven-yard touchdown pass from Nichols.

The Lions shot back with a big drive, starting with a 32-yard pass from Reilly to Carter. The quarterback then connected with Burnham on the other side of the field for a 23-yard toss, and finished the series with a 15-yard pass to Lemar Durant in the end zone.

Winnipeg’s Marcus Sayles blocked Castillo’s kick on the conversion and Bombers defensive back Brandon Alexander picked the bouncing ball off the turf. He got it off to Chandler Fenner, who ran it 80-yards down the field to collect two points for Winnipeg.

Kicker Justin Medlock made a 30-yard field goal to put the Bombers up by three midway through the third.

Winnipeg quarterback Chris Streveler widened the margin midway through the final frame, sneaking over the goal line for the final TD of the game.

Next up, the Lions will visit the Eskimos in Edmonton on Friday.

The Bombers have a bye next week and will return to action on June 27 when they host the Eskimos.

NOTES: Winnipeg’s Kyrie Wilson left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. … Rutley’s 108-yard punt return was the third longest in Lions history. … B.C. is one of four CFL teams with a first-time head coach this season. Lions first-year coach DeVone Claybrooks is joined by Orlondo Steinauer with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Craig Dickenson of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Montreal Alouettes bench boss Khari Jones.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Just Posted

VIDEO: James Bay wolf released into wild of western Vancouver Island

Conservation officers confirm wolf is from Discovery Island

John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce on display at Victoria’s Royal BC Museum

The classic car has been a favourite for Beatles fans from Victoria and internationally

Coulson Aviation 737 tanker crews back in the air fighting Australian bushfires

CEO walks Australian crash site, pays tribute to fallen flight crew

Greater Victoria man killed in Alberta accident was expectant father

Geordie Murray described as ‘wonderful husband, brother son and friend’

Vancouver Island restaurant not setting trend by adding health charge to your bill

Move not catching on, as small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

VIDEO: Driver guilty in Saanich crash that left 11-year-old with catastrophic brain injuries

North Saanich woman convicted on one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

Women assaulted in pair of weekend attacks in Port Alberni

RCMP say no reason to suspect attacks are related, but suspects still at large

Crown Isle in Courtenay home to one of lottery’s prize homes

Extras with local BC Children’s Hospital prize include nearby townhouse, vehicles and cash

Most Read