WINNIPEG — Brady Oliveira was proud to power the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 31-21 come-from-behind CFL victory over the Toronto Argonauts on Friday.
The running back rushed 25 times for a career-high 169 yards and caught Winnipeg’s lone touchdown with a five-yard reception, one of two catches he made for 12 yards.
“Obviously I take pride in what we do in the run game, and even the pass game to protect Zach (Collaros),” Oliveira said of the team’s star quarterback.
"So when it’s on our shoulders, myself and the offensive line, we take pride in that and want to put it on our back to win lots of football games for this team. I think we did that this evening.”
Bombers backup quarterback Dakota Prukop ran in a two-yard touchdown with 3:31 left in the fourth quarter to give his team a 25-21 lead. The two-point convert attempt was unsuccessful.
Kicker Sergio Castillo then added his fifth and six field goals of the game to seal the victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 32,343 fans at IG Field. It was the third consecutive sellout this season.
“When you’re playing a team like Toronto, any way you can put points on the board, it doesn’t matter if it’s field goals or touchdowns, we’ll take it,” Castillo said. “It’s cliché, but when your number is called, go do your job, right?”
The victory boosted the Bombers (11-4) into first place in the CFL West Division, but the 10-4 B.C. Lions could tie them as they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the late Friday game.
Toronto backup quarterback Cameron Dukes threw one touchdown pass and ran in another major in his debut as the Argonauts’ record dropped to 12-2.
The Kentucky-born rookie got the start in place of Chad Kelly, one of a number of players Toronto rested.
Dukes was replaced by third-stringer Bryan Scott with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Argonauts leading 21-19, but he returned with a minute-and-a-half left.
Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said he had no regrets resting players even though they lost.
"I think I found my backup quarterback doing it,” Dinwiddie said. “That was great to see Cam get in this environment and do that.
“That was kind of the point of resting Chad, but also seeing what we got. We wanted to win it and we thought we could with our backup, we just didn’t make enough plays.”
Dukes completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 231 yards.
“It’s always good to have confidence from the team and the coach believing in you,” Dukes said when told about Dinwiddie’s comment on finding his backup.
He was thankful to go back in the game at the end to try to tie or win it.
“I’m glad that he put me back in for that opportunity to learn from that kind of situation, just in case in the future it comes back again and I have to go in there,” Dukes said.
Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros was 22-of-33 passing for 258 yards with one TD and one interception.
Castillo made field goals from 26, 33, 49, 48, 41 and 32 yards, but missed a 52-yard attempt. He was good on one convert.
Toronto running back A.J. Ouellette and receiver Damonte Coxie caught TD passes for Toronto. Boris Bede connected on field goals from 19 and 32 yards, made two converts and added a punt single.
The Argonauts led 14-7 after the first quarter, 17-13 at halftime and 18-16 after the third.
Both teams scored touchdowns on their first series of the game.
The Argonauts went up 14-7 with two minutes left in the opening quarter when Dukes ran five yards for the major.
Oliveira fumbled late in the second quarter, leading to Bede’s 19-yarder as time expired.
Castillo’s 52-yard field-goal attempt hit the crossbar and bounced out four minutes into the third, but he made a 49-yarder with 1:31 left to make it 18-16.
Collaros was intercepted in the fourth quarter, but Toronto running back Deonta McMahon fumbled on their series. Castillo then hit a 48-yarder for a 21-19 score.
Scott threw a pair of incompletions in Toronto’s series after Prukop’s score, leading to Dukes getting back in the game.
Winnipeg defensive back Demerio Houston was injured in the second quarter and didn’t return. … The Bombers’ third consecutive sellout of the season was the first time the club has sold out three games in a season since IG Field opened in 2013. … Former Winnipeg star back Andrew Harris was shown on the Jumbotron in his street clothes along the Toronto sideline before the game. The crowd gave the injured running back a standing ovation as his accomplishments were listed. Harris signed with Toronto in 2022, but it was the first time his new team had played in his hometown.
The Bombers travel to Vancouver to play the B.C. Lions on Oct. 6. The Argonauts are home to the Edmonton Elk the same night.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2023.
Judy Owen, The Canadian Press