Nic Grigsby ran 26 yards for a touchdown with just over two minutes left to lift the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 24-16 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Friday.
Grigsby capped off a six-play, 74-yard drive that was helped when the Alouettes were called for pass interference.
Winnipeg (6-3) defensive back Maurice Leggett then intercepted Montreal quarterback Jonathan Crompton with 1:44 left in the game, a pick upheld despite a challenge for a pass-interference call.
Bombers kicker Lirim Hajrullahu then booted his third field goal of the game from 16 yards out to make it 24-16 at 14:07.
Leggett had another interception that he took to the end zone with 36 seconds left, but it was wiped out by a Bombers penalty.
The victory halted Winnipeg’s two-game losing streak, while Montreal (1-7) has now lost six straight.
The teams didn’t give the 29,881 fans at Investors Group Field much to cheer about in the first half, with Montreal taking a 6-1 lead into the break. But the second half was a see-saw battle with lead changes.
The first touchdown of the game was scored early in the third quarter when Bombers defensive back Don Unamba blocked a Sean Whyte punt.
Winnipeg defensive back Derek Jones scooped the ball up at the one-yard line and ran in for the TD at 1:01 for the 8-6 lead.
After Montreal went two and out on the next series, Whyte’s punt was returned 65 yards by Troy Stoudermire to Montreal’s 14-yard line.
Quarterback Drew Willy then threw an incomplete pass and ran short on the following play, leaving Hajrullahu to attempt a 21-yard field goal.
The ball hit the upright and Winnipeg retained its 8-6 lead with 11:05 left in the third quarter.
Montreal was denied on third down with two yards to go and turned the ball over with just over six minutes in the quarter, but the Bombers couldn’t do anything with the gift.
It was all running back Tyrell Sutton in the Alouettes’ first touchdown drive.
Crompton, who replaced starting quarterback Alex Brink early in the second quarter, threw a pass to Sutton that he took down the sidelines for a 71-yard gain. He also ran for six yards and caught an 11-yard pass before he was hurt and went to the sidelines for a few series.
The Als took the spot Sutton got them to at Winnipeg’s five-yard line and ended up scoring with quarterback Tanner Marsh’s one-yard run at 13:28 for the 13-8 lead.
Hajrullahu then booted field goals from 22 and 24 yards to give Winnipeg the 14-13 lead with 9:12 to go in the game.
But Montreal regained the lead after an eight-play, 61-yard drive capped by Whyte’s 21-yard field goal with 4:18 left.
With 2:37 left and Winnipeg facing third down, Montreal was called for pass interference, leading to Grigsby’s TD.
Willy completed 14-of– 23 pass attempts for 200 yards, no TDs and one interception.
Crompton was 18-of-29 for 266 yards, no TDs and three interceptions.
Hajrullahu unintentionally made the Bombers score first. His punt appeared to be going out at Montreal’s one-yard line, but a bounce took it into the end zone for the 46-yard single and 1-0 score at 7:18.
On the last play of the first quarter, Bombers receiver Nick Moore, back after missing three games with an injury, made a 27-yard catch-and-run play to Montreal’s 44-yard line.
Grisby added two more yards on the ground, but then Willy threw an interception into the hands of Mike Edem, who was making his first start at safety this season.
Montreal started the next drive at its own 41, but it was Crompton behind centre instead of Brink.
Alouettes head coach Tom Higgins told reporters the day before the game that all three of his pivots would get some playing time. Tanner Marsh was already in the game in his usual short-yardage situation.
Crompton was unsuccessful in helping his team capitalized on the turnover, but his second drive led to Whyte’s 37-yard field goal and the 3-1 Alouettes’ led at 9:07 of the second quarter.
Whyte then hit the upright on a 23-yard attempt and the ball was dead.
The final two minutes of the first half featured the teams exchanging back-to-back turnovers. First Montreal receiver S.J. Green had a poorly thrown pass by Crompton go off his fingers into the hands of Bomber defensive back Ian Leggett.
Winnipeg took over at the Als’ 20-yard line, but then Grigsby fumbled a Willy pass and Montreal’s Jerald Brown scooped up the ball.
Montreal almost ran out of time to score, but Whyte had two seconds left on the clock and then booted a 13-yard field goal as time expired for the 6-1 lead.
The Bombers will be tested in their next two games, back-to-back tilts against Saskatchewan in the Labour Day Classic and at home the next week in the Banjo Bowl. Montreal hosts Ottawa and then Hamilton in the East Division’s tight race.