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It started incredibly strong, and ended quite shaky, but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers did enough to come out with a win in their season opener Friday night.
In front of 29,057 fans at IG Field, the Bombers tamed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 42-31 to kick off their regular season on a winning note.
Winnipeg led 29-4 at halftime, but allowed 27 second-half points to let Hamilton make a game of it.
The back-to-back Most Outstanding Player was exactly that again on Friday, as Zach Collaros threw for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns. And the kicking game, a hot topic for awhile now in Winnipeg, was perfect as Sergio Castillo was four-for-four on field goals and hit another four extra points.
The much-hyped receiving corps also had a big night with four players picking up at least 57 yards receiving, including Nic Demski, who led the way with 113 yards and a touchdown in his 100th career game.
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In a first quarter to remember, the Bombers came storming out of the gate with Demski, Rasheed Bailey and Drew Wolitarsky all catching touchdowns in the game’s first 15 minutes.
Running back Brady Oliveira found the endzone for the first time this season in the third quarter. He ended up cracking the century mark with 117 yards on the ground.
With the Bombers up 39-17 heading into the fourth quarter, things got sloppy as a Collaros fumble was returned 62 yards for a touchdown by Chris Edwards, and then on the ensuing kickoff, Janarion Grant coughed up the football and it was returned by Hamilton to the Bombers two-yard line.
James Butler punched it in on the next play and the Ticats would get the two-point conversion to make it a 39-31 game.
But Castillo would make a clutch 50-yard kick for the Bombers on the next drive.
In his Hamilton debut, Bo Levi Mitchell was less than spectacular throwing for 187 yards and a touchdown, but also tossing two interceptions, both snagged by Demerio Houston.
Bombers defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat left the game in the first quarter and did not return.
The Bombers hit the road for their next game on Friday, June 16, when they will visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders.