By Jim Bender
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers ‘Legged’ out a dramatic victory on Sunday.
Rookie placekicker Marc (Legs) Liegghio connected on a 46-yard field goal with 37 seconds left to give Winnipeg an 18-16 triumph over the Calgary Stampeders in a Canadian Football League contest before 22,806 fans at IG Field.
But they had to hold their breath watching Calgary placekicker Rene Paredes’ 52-yard attempt for the winning field goal fall short on the last play of the game.
It was the fourth field goal of the game for Liegghio, who replaced an injured Tyler Crapigna.
“That’s a first game you dream of,” Legghio said. “I never thought my first game would come to that. I’m just glad I made all my field goals and helped the team get the win in the end. I missed that first PAT early on and I wanted to make sure I was gonna be perfect from that point forward. It’s a pretty exciting feeling hitting a game-winner and I’m gonna remember this moment forever.”
Liegghio also booted field goals of 50, 42 and 37 yards after missing a convert attempt. He missed it after running back Andrew Harris scored on a two-yard run.
“Just ending off on that game-winner was just so surreal,” Liegghio said. “It felt amazing. I’m glad we got the win today.”
Winnipeg improved to 3-1, moving into a first-place tie with Saskatchewan in the CFL West while Calgary dropped to 1-3.
It was an unfortunate loss for rookie quarterback Jake Maier, who set a Stampeders record with 17 straight completions.
“I don’t want to make speak too much on it,” said Maier, who completed 30 of 39 passes for 307 yards and no picks. “I mean, yeah, sure it’s a proud moment. I always like to be efficient but, you know, it is what it is.”
Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill said Maier has earned respect.
“I didn’t think he was going to come in and be a slouch,” he said. “I thought that he was gonna make us earn it, and he did. He was efficient, obviously, in the first quarter, and made 15 or whatever straight. Good on him. He showed that he can really ball in this league and credit to their offensive scheme and their coaching, I think they do a great job over there.”
Calgary running back Ka’Deem Carey scored on a 17-yard run while Parades kicked the convert and field goals of 35, 39 and 33 yards.
Meanwhile, Bighill recorded eight defensive tackles to give him a career total of 701 – only the 10th player to get that many.
“I didn’t even know I was coming up on it,” said Bighill, who also recovered a fumble. “To me, it means consistency … I really just focus on my effort and what I can do to prepare and do the best I can for my teammates and where I am is an accumulation of that over my career. That’s one thing I’m proud of – the way I approach the game and the way I play and the way I come to work every single day. It’s the same mindset and same focus. At this point, that’s what I kind of like about it.”
The Bombers will play the Roughiders in the first of back-to-back games in Regina on Sunday.
“Obviously, the next game is the biggest game but, obviously where we are in the standings, these two are going to be very, very important,” Bighill added. “They’re obviously operating on a very high level in all three phases. It’s going to be a really good battle for us. Back-to-back, those are never easy, so we’ve got to get ready to come back to work and get better because we’ve got to go out there and play a tough game, then they’ve got to come back to our house and play another tough game. So, everyone out there is gonna want to keep their TV on, or be in the stadium for these two.”