It put six points on the scoreboard, but for Rasheed Bailey, his first quarter touchdown reception meant a heck of a lot more to him than that.
Bailey made a highlight reel snag with Toronto Argonauts defensive back Shaq Richardson draped all over him for a 35-yard score to give the Blue Bombers an early 7-0 lead.
It was the first career professional touchdown reception for the second-year Bomber receiver and it came on a night where he was playing with a heavy heart.
“I literally just got off the phone with (my family),” Bailey said post-game.
“They’re in the hospital right now… My little cousin is only 12 years old and she had an allergic reaction and it’s not looking too good, but it’s always up to God at the end. If we could just keep praying and have them in your heart, my family would definitely appreciate it.”
Bailey came oh-so-close to grabbing his first TD in the 2019 Grey Cup against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as he had a play that was originally ruled a score, but it was quickly overturned as the review showed the ball hit the ground. Bailey’s had a long time to think about that one.
“I think of a year and a half ago when it was taken away. (With) how much emotion and how much passion and how much work I put in, (tonight’s) touchdown, it symbolizes everything,” Bailey said “…I love my teammates. They made it special. Yoshi (Jermacus Hardrick) rolling on the ground with me, K-Law (Kenny Lawler) giving me love, everybody, (Zach) Collaros, they know how hard I’ve been working for that moment. It was special, not gonna lie.”
The 28-year-old Philadelphia native out of Division III Delaware Valley University only made four regular season starts in 2019 during which he hauled in 19 passes for 206 yards. He finished Friday’s contest with three receptions for 50 yards. Collaros spread it out in Friday’s 20-7 victory as Bailey was the team’s third leading receiver. Kenny Lawler led the way with 10 catches for 99 yards and Winnipegger Nic Demski had eight snags for a total of 68 yards, highlighted by a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It was Bailey’s first time finding the end zone since 2015 when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles and caught a touchdown from Tim Tebow in pre-season action against the New York Jets.
“I’m gonna sleep with that football tonight, I promise,” Bailey said.
It turns out it was a night of firsts for the Bombers as defensive back Deatrick Nichols registered his first career CFL interception and fumble recovery. Both came in the fourth quarter as Nichols scooped up a fumble early in the quarter and nearly nine minutes later, he picked off Argos quarterback Nick Arbuckle and returned it for 19 yards. He also had two pass knockdowns. Not bad for a guy playing only his second CFL game.
“It felt good, man… Your first game you’re gonna be a little bit slow but your second game you got to be 100 per cent better and that’s all I was focused on in this game,” Nichols said.
The 27-year-old CFL newcomer from Miami, Fla., has demonstrated that he has a knack for finding the ball. In 2020 as a member of the Houston Roughnecks, Nichols led the XFL with three interceptions before the rest of the season was cancelled owing to the pandemic.
“That’s the most important thing on the field: the ball. If you’re close to the ball or run to the ball, good things are always going to happen,” he said.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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