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Bombers win seventh straight, clinch playoff spot with victory over Elks

It wasn’t as easy as last week, but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers managed to find a way to beat the Edmonton Elks, picking up a 26-16 win for their seventh straight victory and clinching a playoff spot in the process.

The Bombers are now 9-1, and it’s only a matter of time before they lock up the West, with the 5-4 Saskatchewan Roughriders the next best team in the division.

The win may have come with a loss though, as Bombers running back Andrew Harris left the game with what appeared to be a right knee injury and did not return.

The run game didn’t lose a beat though as Brady Oliveira came in and rushed for 105 yards on 16 carries.

Kenny Lawler returned to the lineup after being suspended by the team last week for an impaired-driving arrest and had a couple big catches, finishing with 82 yards on three receptions.

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But it was Rasheed Bailey who had the best night among Bombers receivers, making six catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.

With the game tied at 16 in the fourth quarter, Bailey hauled in a five-yard TD pass from Zach Collaros with less than 10 minutes to, which would put the Blue ahead for good.

After a 30-3 thumping by the Bombers over the Elks last week, the offences struggled for much of the first half Friday with just eight points scored in the game’s first 26 minutes.

With Edmonton up 5-3 late in the second quarter, the Bombers finally found the endzone when Collaros found Harris for a five-yard TD, but as Harris rolled across the line, he favoured his knee and stayed down for a few minutes before leaving the game.

It was a much-better performance from Bombers kicker Ali Mourtada after his 1 for 4 field goal performance a week ago.

Mourtada went 4 of 5, missing a 44-yarder late in the game.

The Bombers eventually took a 16-8 lead in the third quarter, but the Elks finally recorded a touchdown for the first time in two weeks against Winnipeg, when Shai Ross caught an 11-yard pass from Taylor Cornelius.

But after Bailey’s fourth-quarter TD, the Bombers defence held strong, the third straight game where they haven’t allowed a point in the fourth quarter. In total, they’ve allowed just six points in the final quarter the entire season.

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Bombers offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick missed the game with an injury while defensive back Nick Taylor was also dealing with an injury and was a last-minute scratch.

The Bombers are back at home Saturday, October 23 to take on the B.C. Lions.

Kickoff is shortly after 6 p.m.