The Winnipeg Blue Bombers took advantage of a raucous home crowd Thursday, scoring their first win of the season with a 23-22 defeat of the Edmonton Eskimos.
The 29,533 Bombers fans screamed and smacked sticks together for a deafening roar as quarterback Steven Jyles struggled to keep the Eskimos’ offence moving.
The Eskimos (3-2) helped the Winnipeg cause with some costly penalties late in the fourth quarter that sapped their forward momentum and took them out of field goal range.
Jyles moved back into range but his fumble on Winnipeg’s 28-yard line with seconds remaining sealed the Blue Bombers win.
It was a complete turnaround from their last meeting when the Eskimos pummelled the Bombers 42-10.
The Bombers (1-4) got a big lift on the final play of the first half when quarterback Alex Brink found Chris Matthews on a jump ball in the endzone from 40 yards out. Winnipeg went into halftime trailing 14-11.
Edmonton seemed to gain some offensive momentum in the third, scoring another touchdown just over three minute in when Jyles hit an open Fred Stamps with a 47-yard pass.
But a flukey play late in the quarter went Winnipeg’s way as Mike Renaud’s blocked punt ended up in the hands of Bomber defensive back Jeremy McGee, who took it 23 yards for a first down.
Simpson carried it over the line a few plays later to end the quarter with the Eskimos ahead just 21-18.
The Bombers then closed to within one early in the fourth when Edmonton punter Burke Dales had to concede a safety.
Winnipeg then took the lead on a 27-yard field goal by Justin Palardy at 9:09.
A punt to the endzone brought the Eskimos within one but Jyles couldn’t close the gap on the late drive.
In the game’s early stages, tight defensive play let Winnipeg enter the second quarter with a 1-0 lead but Brink’s second interception of the first half was costly.
It set up Edmonton’s first touchdown of the game three plays later.
Steven Jyles hit Cary Koch with a 25-yard pass and the Eskimos had already picked up a single of their own and a field goal to make it 11-1.
Winnipeg and Edmonton exchanged field goals but the Bombers narrowed the gap.
Both teams relied on their star running backs Thursday night and Hugh Charles for Edmonton and Chad Simpson for Winnipeg delivered in almost equal measure.