Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, July 21, 2018 7:21PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 21, 2018 7:25PM EDT
TORONTO — Matt Nichols threw two TD passes and scored another while Andrew Harris ran for a career-high 161 yards and had two touchdowns to lead the Winnipeg Blue Bombers past the Toronto Argonauts 38-20 on Saturday afternoon.
The win came after Winnipeg (3-3) surged to a 17-0 half-time lead last week against B.C. before losing 20-17. But it was hardly a clean victory as Toronto (1-4) scored 19 points off three Bombers miscues.
The Argos registered 11 points off two fumble recoveries to pull to within 25-12 at the half. Winnipeg countered in the third with Nichols’ one-yard TD run at 4:15 and Justin Medock’s 16-yard field goal at 8:58 for a 35-12 advantage.
But Jermaine Gabriel returned Nic Demski’s fumble 87 yards for the TD at 13:07. James Franklin’s two-point convert cut Winnipeg’s lead to 35-20.
However, Winnipeg made it an 18-point game at 6:05 with Medlock’s 19-yard field goal.
The previous rushing high for Harris, the CFL’s top Canadian last year, was 139 yards registered against B.C.
Nichols finished 19-of-27 passing for 245 yards. Franklin completed 21-of-36 pass attempts for 151 yards and an interception.
The contest drew a season-low 10,844 spectators at BMO Field. That comes after just 12,196 fans watched the defending Grey Cup champions dispatch Edmonton 20-17 on July 7.
So through three home dates, Toronto is averaging just over 13,100 fans in its first year of ownership by Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment. The Argos averaged under 14,000 spectators last season.
Toronto visits Winnipeg next week at Investors Group Field.
Darvin Adams had Winnipeg’s other touchdown. Medlock added four converts, three field goals and a single.
Llevi Noel had Toronto’s other touchdown while Armanti Edwards recorded a two-point convert. Ronnie Pfeffer added a single and field goal.
Noel and Pfeffer gave Toronto much-needed life late in the first half. Noel returned Kevin Fogg’s punt-return fumble 49 yards for the touchdown at 14:11 of the second before Franklin found Edwards for the two-point convert.
Toronto’s Cleyon Laing then recovered Harris’s fumble at the Winnipeg 51 with 12 seconds left. That set up Pfeffer’s 31-yard field goal to end the half.
The turnovers tarnished a solid opening half for Winnipeg, which outgained Toronto 236-124. The Bombers were especially effective running the ball, gaining 96 yards on 16 carries compared to just one yard on four tries for the Argos.
Toronto drove to Winnipeg nine-yard line as part of a 55-yard, 16-play drive that lasted 7:43. But the Argos got no points as Pfeffer missed a 34-yard field goal and the Bombers returned it to their 30-yard line with 4:28 left in the second.
Nichols found Harris on a six-yard TD strike at 2:23 of the second to put Winnipeg ahead 22-1.
Winnipeg led 15-1 after the first, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions. Adams had a 22-yard TD catch at 2:10, two plays after Ian Wild recovered Martese Jackson’s punt-return fumble.
Harris capped a 67-yard, nine-play drive with a one-yard TD run at 7:50 before Medlock added a single on the ensuing kickoff. Toronto drove to the Winnipeg 20 but Pfeffer missed from 27 yards out for the single at 11:39, drawing boos from the sparse gathering.
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