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

Special memorial service to say goodbye to murdered teen

A memorial service and celebratio of life was held Tuesday for murdered teen Elijah-Iain Beauregard

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: cloudy, rain expected

Environment Canada is calling for a risk of thunderstorms tonight across the Okanagan

Juno-Award winning musician Bill Bourne to perform in Keremeos

Concert at the Grist Mill and Gardens starts at 7 p.m. on July 19

10th year for Great Naramata Cherry Pit Contest

The event is a fun-filled way to celebrate the local harvest

VIDEO: Plant-based burgers may not be as healthy as they seem

Both the Impossible and Beyond Burger have more saturated fat than beef burgers

Thunderstorms forecast across B.C.

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for B.C.’s central Interior

Man fleeing police arrested in Summerland

Incident occurred on Tuesday evening

B.C. mom to go to Europe court in hopes of getting alleged abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown alleges her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Missing South Okanagan kayaker last seen on Okanagan Lake

Penticton RCMP are asking for assistance in locating a missing kayaker

Lower gas prices slow annual inflation rate to Bank of Canada’s 2% bull’s-eye

Prices showed strength in other areas — led by a 17.3 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

Part One: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

A personal connection to the crisis: Recovering addicts share their story

B.C. moves to preserve 54 of its biggest, oldest trees

Fir, cedar, spruce, pine, yew set aside from logging

Firefighters have doused a Peachland house fire

Fire crews are still on scene investigating the cause of the BBQ which made its way to the home

Most Read