Bombers’ Lawler continues strong season with career-best performance

VANCOUVER — Leading Blue Bombers receiver Kenny Lawler continued his strong season in Week 9 by setting single game career-highs in both receptions and receiving yards while helping Winnipeg defeat the BC Lions.

Lawler accounted for nearly half of Zach Collaros’ 417 passing yards in Winnipeg’s 30-9 win, as he racked up 205 yards on 12 catches — including a touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Bombers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

The 27-year-old now leads the league in both receiving yards (703) and catches (45), already surpassing the 637 yards he recorded in 2019 during his rookie campaign. He also leads the league with seven catches of longer than 30 yards.

“He’s been making some big plays. He’s got sticky hands and he’s certainly a good playmaker,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea.

“That ball in the end zone was almost like slow motion in my head, and the way he played that was phenomenal.”

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Lawler’s 44-yard touchdown was as impressive as it was important, as he came down with a jump ball in the end zone while outmuscling Lions defensive back Bejour Wilson for the go-ahead score.

“I’m proud for me, proud for the team. It was just a good hard-fought win,” Lawler said.

Collaros moved into the league lead with 12 touchdown passes and 2,148 yards as the Bombers won their fifth straight game, and seventh overall on the season.

The quarterback has relied on Lawler consistently throughout the season, as Winnipeg’s second-leading receiver, Nic Demski, has missed time due to injury.

“He had a lot of balls come his way tonight and he made unbelievable plays as he always does with the ball in the air. He’s a big time player,” Collaros said.

Lawler’s previous best game came in 2019 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats when he recorded 144 yards on 10 catches.

On top of Lawler’s ability to make contested catches down the field against tight coverage, Collaros also pointed out the other aspects of the receiver’s game that have helped make him a top player.

“He’s a great route runner too, and he’s not afraid to do the dirty work — none of our guys are,” Collaros said.

“There were a couple of plays tonight when he had to go in there and block a defensive end, and he does it.”

While the Bombers hold the best record in the league and haven’t lost a game since Week 2 against the Toronto Argonauts, the team still sees room for growth.

“I think our guys are playing well, but there’s still room for improvement and they’re all committed to that which is extremely important,” O’Shea said.

“They’re a good team right now and it’s not by accident, they work hard at it.”

After a pair of touchdown drives in the first half, Winnipeg was unable to find the end zone again until the final minutes of the fourth quarter — a problem Collaros is eager to rectify.

“We left some points out there, which we’ve got to really clean up,” Collaros said. “We turned the football over and had a little lull there in the third quarter. I thought overall we moved the ball really well, but we’d like to finish drives with touchdowns so we’ll continue to work at that.”

The division-leading Bombers host the Edmonton Elks (2-5) in Week 10 next Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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