WINNIPEG — Ask Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris about the accuracy of the throws that demolished the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night and he spreads the credit around.
"Our efficiency is because of our offensive line and our receivers," Harris said, after his Redblacks (6-3) defeated the Bombers 44-21, extending Ottawa's lead atop the CFL's East Division to six points.
"Our receivers are getting their depth, catching footballs, making tough catches and our O-line is keeping me up, giving me time."
Harris completed 29 of 39 passes for 361 yards and a touchdown. Ottawa had just shy of 500 yards net offence and outscored the Bombers 22-7 at the half, adding another 22 points in the second to Winnipeg's 14.
Harris connected with Dominique Rhymes for the TD, while William Powell ran for 106 yards and a TD and Dominique Davis punched in two for the Redblacks.
Winnipeg quarterback Matt Nichols completed 23 of his 35 passes for 291 yards, had two TD passes to Darvin Adams, who had 162 receiving yards, as well as an interception for the Bombers (5-4). Andrew Harris had 72 yards on the ground and TD.
Ottawa coach Rick Campbell said they're lucky to have Harris.
"When you can protect him and give him any amount of time and keep him clean, he's very accurate," said Campbell, who approved of his team's overall play Friday night.
"We came out with a certain (kind) of energy," he added. "We always had an answer tonight. They're a good team and they kept fighting back, but we always had a response."
The Bombers, particularly quarterback Nichols, were crushed by the defeat, which snapped a three-game winning streak and left them firmly in the third spot in the West.
Nichols took a hit to his right arm in fourth quarter and he was taken off for a few plays to make sure he wasn't hurt. When he returned, he was booed by the home crowd.
"I came back on the field and got booed by the stadium. That was pretty hard for me tonight," he said.
Bombers coach Mike O'Shea said he understood Nichols' disappointment, but could also see it from the fans' perspective.
"They get frustrated too," said O'Shea.
He said Winnipeg's penalties only helped give a good opponent extra chances.
"I think the game looks different if we're more disciplined and we get off the field. I think then the defence is more rested and I think our offence has more opportunities to drive the ball and battle a good defence."
Twice the Bombers thought they stopped a two-point convert attempt only to have penalties give Ottawa second chances.
Both quarterbacks were sacked and gave up fumbles, but only Winnipeg paid with a touchdown.
The 27,602 fans at Investors Group Field had to listen over and over to the phrase "Harris completes ... " as the Redblacks' offence proved largely unstoppable.
Ottawa has two of the hottest players in the CFL in quarterback Harris and receiver Brad Sinopoli, although the latter didn't get a lot of chances to add to his league-leading 60 receptions Friday with Harris picking other targets.
One bright note for the Bombers as running back Harris passed the 7,000-yard mark and got his second-half touchdown.
There were three Harrises on the field Friday night — Ottawa receiver R.J. Harris as well.
Ottawa's backup in Davis scored the team's first touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak, after Harris marched them 73 yards down the field on just his second possession of the game. A two-point convert to Greg Ellingson made it 8-0.
The Bombers came back later in the first to draw within one at 11:53 on a 45-yard touchdown pass by Nichols to Adams, but that was as close as they would get all night.
Harris got the second quarter started with a 78-yard 11-play drive that ended with Davis scoring his second touchdown of the game at 11:20.
It looked like a second try for a two-pointer was lost when the catch went out of bounds, but a Bomber offside penalty gave Harris another shot and he connected with Diontae Spencer to make it 16-7.
Lewis Ward kicked his 23rd consecutive field goal of the season to make it 19-7 at the 11:33 mark and added another from 38 yards to make it 23-7 at the half.
The Bombers finally got back on the scoreboard at the 7:13 mark of the third quarter when Harris ran 13 yards for his touchdown and the Bombers closed the gap to 22-14, but not for long.
Just over two minutes later, Ottawa made it 30-14 on a five-yard throw from Harris to Rhymes, plus another two-point convert. Then salt was rubbed in the wound when Nichols fumbled as he was sacked trying to unload.
The Redblacks made it 38-14 on a 43-yard runback by Avery Williams and another two-pointer.
The Bombers gave fans something to cheer about when they made it 38-21 just seconds into the final quarter after a 72-yard pass from Nichols to Adams.
But the Redblacks were far from finished in the fourth, with a 28-yard touchdown run from running back Powell that made it 44-21 when Ward missed his convert.
Scott Edmonds, The Canadian Press