Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie Dalton Schoen caught three touchdown passes Saturday as the Bombers clinched first place in the CFL West Division for the second straight season with a dominating 48-11 victory over the Edmonton Elks.
Schoen has 64 receptions for 1,275 yards and 14 touchdowns in 16 games.
“I would have thought that was crazy,” Schoen said. “It’s a testament, though, to the coaching staff for putting together a great game plan, week-in, week-out. And it’s a testament to the guys around me.”
Schoen had a pair of 25-yard touchdown receptions and a 65-yard major, finishing the game with seven catches for 162 yards.
The 25-year-old native of Overland Park, Kan., also moved up in the CFL record book for most touchdowns by a rookie. His 14 TDs puts him in third place. Derrell Mitchell is second for his 17 TDs in 1997 with Toronto and B.C.’s David Williams holds the record of 18 set in 1988.
The two-time defending Grey Cup champion Bombers improved their record to 14-2 in front of 27,159 fans at IG Field and earned a first-round playoff bye before hosting the West Final on Nov. 13.
The loss officially eliminated the Elks (4-12) from the playoffs because they can’t pass the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-10).
“We just got our butts kicked, plain and simple,” said Edmonton quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who was 11-of-24 passing for 137 yards and one TD to Dillon Mitchell.
“We’ve got to be better offensively and help our defence out, continue drives and stay on the field and not put them in those situations.”
Bombers running back Brady Oliveira scored twice. Once was off a three-yard run and the other was the first receiving TD of his three-year career — a 24-yard catch from backup quarterback Dakota Prukop on a second-and-one play.
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“We had it drawn up this week and it was exciting,” Oliveira said of his second-quarter TD reception.
“I had a chance to have my first receiving touchdown of my pro career. I’ve been itching for it, I’ve been wanting it for a while. I think the receiving game, my hands are one of the strengths of my game so I just want to show people that I can do that.”
Winnipeg receiver Nic Demski pulled in a 31-yard TD pass from Zach Collaros on the game’s opening drive, giving him at least one TD in six straight games (eight TDs during that span). The last Bomber to score in six consecutive games was running back Charles Roberts in 2006.
Demski’s 10 receiving TDs this season ties him in second place with Lions receiver Dominique Rhymes behind Schoen.
The Bombers used three quarterbacks and all of them threw TD passes.
Schoen recorded his third TD of the game when he held on to backup quarterback Dru Brown’s 65-yard pass with 3:33 left in the fourth.
Winnipeg led 14-1 after the first quarter, 28-8 at halftime and 28-11 heading into the fourth quarter.
Collaros had a run of 10 straight completions to start the game before feeling pressure and throwing an incompletion. He completed 11-of-13 pass attempts in the first half for 193 yards, three TDs and one interception.
Winnipeg kicker Marc Liegghio booted a pair of field goals from 43 and 37 yards and made all six of his convert attempts.
Collaros finished the game 15-of-19 passing for 241 yards, three TDs and one pick.
“Obviously, the main goal hasn’t been achieved yet, but it’s part of the process getting a home playoff game and for it to be the West Final is pretty big,” Collaros said.
“I think that’s a great reward for the hard work, as well as for our fans. Our fans were amazing tonight.”
The Elks got their first point when Winnipeg conceded a punt single in the first quarter.
Mitchell hauled in a 59-yard TD catch at 3:05 of the second quarter. He’s gone six consecutive games with a reception of 40-plus yards. He finished with six catches for 106 yards.
Elks kicker Sergio Castillo was good on his convert attempt and chipped in a 16-yard field goal at 7:05 of the third quarter.
Liegghio’s pair of field goals in the fourth quarter came after Edmonton fumbles, one during a punt return and one after Cornelius was sacked.
The Canadian Press