Edmonton Elks down Winnipeg Blue Bombers 30-20 in pre-season play

Edmonton Elks' Caleb Holley (17) celebrates his touchdown against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the first half of pre-season CFL action in Winnipeg, Friday, May 27, 2022 (The Canadian Press/John Woods).

Nick Arbuckle passed for a pair of touchdowns and 145 yards as the Edmonton Elks downed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 30-20 in pre-season action on Friday.

It was Arbuckle's first game action with the Elks. The three-year veteran was acquired last October in a trade with the Toronto Argonauts, but never got into a game with his new teammates.

Both teams were assessing their quarterbacks in front of 20,518 fans at IG Field.

The back-to-back Grey Cup-champion Bombers played a number of their starters on both sides of the ball, but sat starting quarterback Zach Collaros.

Second-year Bombers quarterback Dru Brown was 10-of-13 passing for 108 yards. Former Elks quarterback Dakota Prukop was 5 of 14 for 81 yards with two interceptions for his new club.

Elks head coach and general manager Chris Jones hasn't declared his starting quarterback and took a look at four options: Arbuckle, Taylor Cornelius, Tre Ford and Kai Locksley. Most of Edmonton's starting offensive line suited up to help with the auditions.

Receivers Caleb Holley and Ka'Ron Ashley caught touchdown passes for Edmonton, and Cornelius kept the ball on a successful quarterback sneak.

Elks kicker Gregory Hutchins connected on field goals from 44, 15 and 24 yards and made two convert attempts. Rafael Gaglianone was also good on a convert but went wide on a 49-yard field-goal attempt.

Winnipeg got touchdowns from Dalton Schoen, Prukop and Brown. Kicker Ali Mourtada made one convert and hit the upright on another. Marc Liegghio was good on his one convert attempt.

Edmonton led 10-7 after the first quarter, 17-14 at half-time and 24-20 after three quarters.

Arbuckle started the game. He was sacked on his first play, but kept the drive alive and hit Holley for a 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown at 3:45 of the first quarter.

After Hutchins made it 10-0 with a 44-yard field goal at 8:55, Brown engineered a Winnipeg touchdown drive.

The second-year Bomber first aired out a 49-yard completion to Nic Demski, then capped it off with a two-yard touchdown toss to Schoen at 12:59.

Arbuckle was replaced after Schoen's score with Ford.

The Canadian rookie went in for two series, but didn't complete either of his two pass attempts and was also sacked. The University of Waterloo product also played in the third quarter and finished 1 of 3 for 17 yards and ran five times for 47 yards.

A Winnipeg turnover led to Cornelius's touchdown.

Bombers returner Evan Holm fumbled the ball on a punt. Elks Nafees Lyon recovered the ball and Cornelius finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge at 8:05 of the second to make it 17-7.

Prukop scored his touchdown with an eight-yard run after a fake handoff to Johnny Augustine at 12:23.

Arbuckle also started the second half, but a pass to Charles Nelson didn't end well. Nelson couldn't hang on to the ball, fumbled and Winnipeg recovered.

Brown then scored on a two-yard run at 4:52. After Mourtada's missed convert, Winnipeg finally took the lead 20-17.

The lead vanished fast as Arbuckle connected with Ashley for a three-yard catch in the end zone at 8:16 of the third. With Gaglianone's convert, Edmonton took over a 24-20 edge.

Locksley guided the offence on an 11-play, 64-yard drive that ended with Hutchins' 15-yard field goal at 9:32 of the fourth. He added a 24-yarder at 14:50. Locksley completed 9 of 11 passes for 85 yards.

All CFL teams have to cut their rosters to 75 players by 10:59 CT on May 28.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.