Friday, July 12, 2013

CFL Recap Week 2

Scores and Standings

Winnipeg vs Montreal
The Bombers defence sacked Anthony Calvillo seven times, limiting the QB to just 121 yards as they fought to a 19-11 win over the Alouettes on Thursday night at Percival Molson Stadium.
Tonight’s matchup marked the second half of a home-and-home series between the two, with the Als taking round one last Thursday night in Winnipeg 38-33.

While both teams had their offences working early last week, it was the defences that came to play early on in this outing.
Winnipeg appeared to have their attack moving smoothly on their opening possession, with tailback Chad Simpson rushing for gains of 4 and 8 yards on consecutive plays for a fresh set of downs.

But the drive would come to an immediate halt when receiver Cory Watson fumbled the ball on what was Buck Pierce’s first pass of the game. Rookie Mike Edem recovered the loose ball, giving the Als possession on their own 45 yard line.

After Anthony Calvillo and the Als were unable to produce any traction on their first drive of the game, the Bombers took over once again, but continued to have trouble holding onto the ball.

On their first play of the possession, Pierce saw his pass intended for Will Ford tipped at the line and intercepted by Scooter Berry.

Fortunately for the Bombers, the Als weren’t able to take advantage of the good field position, as they were forced to settle for a 15-yard field goal by Sean Whyte.

Following a few drives that saw little offence from either team, Pierce was finally able to string together a few plays without turning over the ball.

Pinned deep inside their own end due to a penalty on the preceding punt return, Pierce looked towards Montreal native Watson on three consecutive plays for gains of 37, 5 and 10, bringing the drive inside Alouettes territory.

After Pierce connected with Terrence Edwards and Clarence Denmark for a fresh set of downs inside Montreal’s red zone, Simpson took over but wasn’t able to generate a first down, coming up just inches short of the marker.

However, rather than settling for a field goal, Bombers head coach Tim Burke gambled and sent out backup QB Justin Goltz, who proceeded to move the chains after punching through the line for a one-yard gain.

One play later, Goltz trotted into the endzone untouched for the game’s opening touchdown, giving the Bombers a 7-3 lead in the process.

With time winding down in the first half, Calvillo seemed to finally find his rhythm, connecting with receiver Arland Bruce for the unit’s first fresh set of downs at the half.
Brandon Whitaker, making his first appearance since tearing his ACL in Week 12 of last year, also started finding his groove, busting out an 11-yard rush for another Alouettes first down.

But after a procedure call on Josh Bourke pushed the Als five yards backwards, they were unable to move the chains on their next play, forcing Als head coach Dan Hawkins to send out Whyte to attempt a second field goal, one that he would kick wide for his first miss of the season.

The Bombers entered the half up 8-3, thanks in large to the fact that they were able to keep the Als out of the endzone, despite giving the ball away three times.

But the trend continued once the second half got underway, with the Als cutting another Winnipeg drive short by forcing and recovering a fumble to take over possession.

Winnipeg’s defence would stand tall yet again, however, as they continued to suffocate Calvillo and the Als offence.

The offence came to a standstill in the third quarter, with both defences maintaining their ground and refusing to allow the opposition to gain any momentum.

With just over three minutes to go in the third quarter, disaster nearly struck for the Bombers with Als linebacker Kyries Hebert recovering a mishandled snap by Goltz and returning it 58 yards for a touchdown.

However, the play was reviewed by the CFL command centre, who ruled Hebert was downed by contact before his run to the endzone.

The turnover, the fifth forced by Montreal, translated into a single point of a punt by Whyte to cut Winnipeg’s lead to 4.
While the Bombers were fortunate enough to surrender just 4 points off their numerous turnovers, the same couldn't be said for the Alouettes.
After Calvillo saw his pass intended for Jamel Richardson get picked off by Desia Dunn, Pierce proceeded to march the Bombers 65 yards downfield on eight plays, culminating in one-yard TD run by Goltz, giving the Bombers a 16-4 lead.
But with less than three minutes to go in the game, Calvillo and the slumbering Alouettes offence finally woke up.
The 40-year-old QB connected with Whitaker, Richardson, Bruce and SJ Green on four consecutive passes, the last of which saw Green dive into the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown to bring the Als within five.
However, it would be a case of too little, too late, as the Bombers managed to escape Montreal with their first win of the season.
Despite not throwing a touchdown, Pierce seemed poised and in control all night, finishing his night with 257 yards on 19 completions. Rookie DT Zack Anderson made his presence felt, registering two of Winnipeg's seven sacks on the night. Veteran Bryant Turner collected 3 sacks and forced a fumble as well.
Toronto vs BC
Andrew Harris delivered the knock-out punch with a 4-yard touchdown late to cap off a 24-16 BC Lions win over the Toronto Argonauts Thursday night.

It was a matchup that pitted the last two Grey Cup Champions against one another after the Lions won it on home turf in 2011 and the Argos followed suit a year later in the 100th edition of the game.

One thing that Travis Lulay and the Lions offence vowed heading into tonight was to get off to a quicker start; something they didn’t do in their loss to Calgary last week falling down 16-0 early.

Lulay made good on his promise, first connected with Nick Moore for 43 yards on their second possession before finding WR Courtney Taylor in the endzone for a 6-yard touchdown pass and an early 7-0 lead.

The Lions followed up that score with another impressive drive featuring a heavy dose of Moore who had already recorded 93 yards receiving in the first quarter. The Lions were poised to go up by two majors but Khalif Mitchell got to Lulay for a sack deep in Argo territory to force BC to kick a field goal.

Mitchell’s return to BC dominated headlines for most of the week after an unceremonious exit in a trade to Toronto. The re-focused lineman said that he entered the matchup with “no grudges, no hard feelings”.

The Lions offence continued to move the ball early on as Lulay connected with Manny Arceneaux for a 44-yard catch to set up another O’Neill field goal. O’Neill was in his second week handling all of the kicking duties with Paul McCallum still not back from injury.

After being stifled buy the Lions ‘D’ for the entire first quarter, Ricky Ray and the Toronto offence finally started to move the ball midway through the second frame. Ray found SB Chad Owens three times to set up a 42-yard Noel Prefontaine field goal to cut the Lions lead to 13-3.

Prefontaine, who was added to Toronto’s practice roster just before the season, was making his return following an injury to Swayze Waters.

The teams entered halftime with BC up 14-3.

The Lions defence was the story of the first half, holding the Argos to 97 yards of total offence. They were lead by fierce linebacker Solomon Elimimian who made his 2013 debut after missing last week in Calgary with an injury. He along with Adam Bighill are aiming to prove to the Lions administration that the two can co-exist in their linebacking corps after the former Defensive Player of the Year’s return midway through last season. BC primarily kept Bighill at the middle linebacker position while sending Elimimian off the edge at the outside spot.

The Lions plan at linebacker took a turn for the worse when Bighill went down on the first possession of the second half and was carted off the field never to return to action for the rest of the night. Also concerning for the Lions was receiver Shawn Gore leaving the game after absorbing a hit from rookie Argos DB Janzen Jackson.

Even without Bighill, the Lions defence continued to swarm Ray and the Argos, holding them to just a field goal through three quarters.
Meanwhile, Lulay continued to wear down Toronto’s defence that was still trying to find itself. Although he wasn’t putting majors on the board, the Lions pivot was leading long drives and O’Neill added another field goal to make it 17-3 Lions.

And defensively, the Lions continued to hold their ground.

After Argos defensive back Jalil Carter picked off a Lulay pass and took it inside the BC 20 yard line, the Leos stood tall and forced the Argos to kick a 12-yard field goal. The make cut the lead to 17-6.

Momentum began swinging in Toronto’s favour however as they opened the fourth quarter with a blocked punt by Jackson, recovered by Matt Black at the Lions 40 yard line. The Lions came up with a stop and Prefontaine stuck a 37-yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-9.

With Toronto looking to get within striking distance, former Argos defensive back Lin-J Shell stripped Ray of the ball and the Leos recovered on the Argos’ 40 yard line.

Harris then went to work on the ground. First he ripped off a 23-yard scamper before finishing off the 4-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown.

Adding to the drama that surrounded Mitchell’s return to BC, the hulking lineman took a roughing the passer call a play earlier to take what would have been a field goal attempt and set up the Lions inside the Argos five yard line.

Already without WR Dontrelle Inman, who was a late scratch, Ray and the Argonauts were just surrounded by the Lions defence who held them to just over 200 yards of total offence. Ray finished with an average 215 yards passing on 28 of 39.

Ray added a 7-yard touchdown run with 59 seconds left to cut the lead to 24-16 but that is as close as Toronto would get.

Next week the Argos return home to host Darian Durant and the Saskatcheawn Roughriders while the Lions travel to Edmonton to take on former backup QB Mike Reilly and the Eskimos.

Calgary vs Saskatchewan
Kory Sheets had another big day on the ground, while Darian Durant threw two touchdown passes as the Riders exploded in the second half en-route to a 36-21 win over the Stamps at Mosaic Stadium.
Down 21-14 at the half, the Roughriders buckled down defensively from there on, pitching a second-half shutout. Durant and Sheets took care of the rest, as the Roughriders scored 22 consecutive points to send a sold out gathering at Mosaic Stadium home happy.
Sheets ran for 133 yards and a touchdown, while Durant looked unstoppable on 26-34 passing for 253 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf.
After wreaking havoc in a win last weekend, Stamps running back Jon Cornish was held to 41 yards on just eight carries, while Drew Tate threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort.
Hemmed deep in their own end after a holding penalty on the opening kickoff, Tate and the Stampeders were tested by a loud Mosaic Stadium crowd right from the get-go.

But the Calgary offence silenced the stadium quickly, as Tate found Joe West for a 64-yard completion on the pump-and-go, setting the Stamps up deep in scoring range.
The drive ended on a 7-yard touchdown run, as Marquay McDaniel took the handoff from Tate and found paydirt, leading the Red and White to an early 7-0 lead in hostile territory.

Durant and the Riders responded with a quick drive of their own, as the veteran pivot completed four straight passes to move the offence to the nine-yard-line. But that’s where the drive stalled on second down, leading to a 15-yard field goal from Chris Milo to make it a 7-3 game.

Later in the first quarter with a drive start at midfield, the Stamps converted a first-and-20 situation on a 24-yard hookup to Nik Lewis, starting another promising drive for the Stampeders.

Tate continued to find his rhythm, eventually evading pressure to find Rob Cote for a 7-yard touchdown pass, vaulting the Stamps into a 14-3 lead.

Midway through the second quarter and down by 11 points, the Riders found life on a second-and-three from the Calgary 28-yard-line. Durant found Dressler on what seemed like a harmless completion for a first down – but Dressler made a quick cut before bursting through a seam, leading to Saskatchewan’s first major of the game.

Sheets made good on a subsequent two-point conversion attempt, cutting the deficit to three points.

The Riders squared the game at 14 apiece soon after on a 36-yard field goal from Milo, leaving just enough time for the Stampeders to try and get a score in before the half to break the tie.

Tate, already putting forth a strong performance, grabbed the offence by the horns and drove it down the field, completing four consecutive passes to move to the Saskatchewan 36.

After converting a key second-and-10 to McDaniel, Tate gunned for the end zone on the ensuing first down, finding West for a 16-yard touchdown to put the Stamps ahead 21-14 through 30 minutes.
In the second half, the Riders were quick to seize momentum, efficiently driving to score on Milo’s third field goal of the game from 38 yards out. After a quick two-and-out on the ensuing Calgary possession, the field seemingly tilted in Saskatchewan’s favour.
After a fourth field goal from Milo to cut the deficit to a single point, the Riders finally struck for their second major score of the night. A pass interference penalty led the Riders to the one-yard-line, and Sheets did the rest, fighting his way through tacklers for the 18-yard touchdown run.
Again Chamblin gambled for the two-point conversion, and again the Riders came through on a short pass to Dressler, putting the Green and White ahead by a touchdown with the fourth quarter barely under way.
The touchdown gave the Riders a run of 14 straight points, rallying the home team ahead for the first time in the football game, 28-21.
After two more two-and-outs for Calgary -- a common occurrence in the game's second half -- the Riders offence stayed hot, as Durant led the Green and White offence down the field and into scoring range once again.
Then, thanks to a drive-extending penalty on the Calgary defence for unsportsmanlike conduct, Durant made the Stamps pay in the biggest way possible, with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Getzlaf to make it 35-21 in front of an elated Mosaic Stadium crowd.
Getzlaf made the catch down the sideline and leaped over the pylon, capping off a four-play, 15-yard drive that was assisted by the penalty as well as strong starting field position.
Kevin Glenn made a late appearance for the Stamps, but it was all for not as the Riders completed the second-half shutout, sending Rider Nation home happy after a momentus win in Week 2.
The Riders will look to move to 3-0 next week when they visit the defending Grey Cup Champion Toronto Argonauts, while the Stamps look to rebound with a trip to Montreal to take on the Alouettes.
Edmonton vs Hamilton
Not even a rain storm could stop Hugh Charles.
The shifty Edmonton Eskimos running back had over 200 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns as the Edmonton Eskimos defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 30-20 at a rain-soaked Alumni Stadium in Guelph.

Sunday’s late-afternoon contest marked the first ever regular season CFL game in Guelph; the Ticats' temporary home while Ivor Wynne Stadium is being re-built.

It was an eventful opening for Charles who put his team in a hole and dug right out of it three plays later. Charles was stripped of the ball on the opening kickoff, setting the Ticats up at the Edmonton 40 yard line. Following a missed Luca Congi field goal, Charles got his team on the board first with a 70-yard scamper as he bounced outside to the perimeter of the Hamilton defence for an early 7-0 lead.

It seemed to spark the Esks sidelines, especially their defence which had a challenging opening week vs. the Roughriders last Saturday. They came out on fire on this day however, getting to Henry Burris twice on the ensuing possession and forcing Hamilton to concede a safety.
Burris, meanwhile, was without one of his favourite targets this week as receiver Andy Fantuz was out with a lower-body injury.
2012 fourth-round draft pick Simon Charbonneau-Campeau started in his place and ended up leading the Ticats in receiving yards with 63.

Off the kickoff following the safety, Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly engineered the most impressive drive of his young career as a starter in Edmonton completing a 7-play, 55-yard touchdown series capped off with a diving Fred Stamps major for a 16-0 lead.

Burris and the ‘Cats answered right back however off the heels of a 68-yard Lindsey Lamar kickoff return to set up a 1-yard CJ Gable score to cut the lead to 16-7.

Lamar and Gable teamed up to take over Chevon Walker’s spot after being a late scratch due to injury for the second consecutive week.

The heavy rain began to become a factor, pouring onto the Alumni Stadium field, making for a slippery second quarter. Luca Congi recorded the first points of the frame, nailing a 39-yard field goal at 8:52 to cut the lead to 6. Congi added a 26-yarder two possessions later to bring Edmonton’s lead down to 16-13.

It was an impressive first half for Charles who had 120 yards and a touchdown on the ground on just 8 carries.

Both teams dedicated themselves to the run as the rain was unforgiving on the passing game.

The storm subsided a bit in the second half but the damage to the field was done as both teams had trouble gaining traction and more importantly, a handle on the ball.

After the Ticats took all the momentum heading into halftime, the Eskimos swung it back in their favour in a span of three plays.

First, defensive back TJ Hill jumped in front of a Burris pass deep in Hamilton territory to set his club up inside the 25 yard line. Charles then added his second major of the game, taking a swing pass 13 yards for an Eskimos touchdown and a 23-13 lead.

Reilly and the Esks did a great job heading into the fourth managing the game and most importantly securing the ball in not so ideal conditions.

The first-year starter delivered the knock-out punch with 9:48 left when he slid into the endzone on a 12-yard keeper to extend the Eskimos’ lead to 30-13.

The Tiger-Cats added a late score as Burris found newcomer Ed Gant for a 40-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 10.

Gant spent training camp with the Eskimos before being released and scooped up by the Ticats before the start of the season.

The Esks defence closed it out from there to preserve the 30-20 win.

The Cats remain at home next week as they welcome the Winnipeg Blue Bombers while the Eskimos return to Commonwealth for a matchup with the BC Lions.

CFL Week 1 Recap

Scores and Standings

Montrael vs Winnipeg
The Alouettes owned the first and fourth quarters winning a see-saw 2013 season opener 38-33 over the Blue Bombers at the opening of Investors Group Field.

Thursday not only marked the opening of the 2013 CFL season but the opening of the brand new stadium. The state-of-the-art facility that columnist Bob Irving said has a “pronounced wow factor” concluded their opening ceremony with legendary alumni Milt Stegall, dressed in full uniform, catching a touchdown pass from another former Bomber Matt Dunigan.

A raucous crowd helped get the Bombers defence revved up, forcing a two-and-out on QB Anthony Calvillo and the Als first possession of the game.

One of the unique features of the Bombers’ new digs is the canvas on each side of the grandstands which makes an already loud fan base seem even louder.

The noise level reached a maximum numerous times given the game was announced a sell-out earlier in the week.

Buck Pierce took to the field for the first time following the defensive stand but had a tough start. His first pass was intercepted by former Hamilton Ticat defensive back Geoff Tisdale on the corner, giving Montreal immediate field position.

Calvillo didn’t take long capitalizing, finding Jamel Richardson two plays later to bring the Als down to the Bombers three yard line before RB Chris Jennings punched it in on a pitch for the first touchdown in IGF history.

Calvillo was starting his 14th consecutive season behind centre. Only the late Ron Lancaster had started more games with one team in his career (15 with Saskatchewan).

The Als made sure that any momentum that the Bombers could have absorbed from the pre-game ceremonies was gone when CFL rookieTyron Carrier fielded a punt and returned it 77 yards for a touchdownand a lightning fast 14-0 lead.

The Winnipeg offence would settle down on their next possession however. First, Buck Pierce found veteran receiver Clarence Denamrk down the sidelines for a 45-yard gain before Justin Palardy knocked through a 35-yard field goal to make it 14-3.

It seemed to spark the Blue and Gold. After sacking Calvillo they forced the Als gunslinger to throw a ball into the dirt, however it hit the foot of Bombers DB Brandon Stewart and landed into the hands of sophomore DB Demond Washington who returned the interception down to the Montreal 3 yard line.

Two plays later, the Bombers scored their first major in the stadium when Pierce found WR Chris Matthews open in the endzone for a 3-yard score. Matthews was questionable heading into the contest after sustaining an ankle injury in the week leading up to the opener.

After Montreal conceded a single point, Pierce had another opportunity to put points on the board but rookie Als defensive back Mike Edem hauled in an errant pass which went off Tisdale's hands for the INT.

Edem was the third overall pick in this year’s CFL Draft and earned himself a starting spot at safety out of camp after Kyries Hebert was moved to linebacker.

The turnover eventually set up a 37-yard Sean Whyte field goal.

Whyte added another field goal shortly thereafter when the Als forced Winnipeg RB Chad Simpson to fumble and set up a 35-yarder. The Als took a 20-11 lead with 13 of those points coming off turnovers.

He would add one more at the last play of the half to take a 23-13 lead into the locker room.

Pierce and the Blue Bombers offence came out on fire when the second half began.

First, he hit Canadain Jade Etienne over the middle for a 66-yard catch-and-run – the biggest gain of his career – before finding Denmark with an 8-yard touchdown strike to cut the Montreal lead 23-20.

Pierce helped cut the lead but the special teams helped take it from the Als three plays later.

Washington fielded a punt at his own 30 yard line and seemed to be wrapped up but fought his way through traffic,bounced it outside and raced 79 yards for a touchdown and a 27-23 lead.

The Bombers continued to put points on the board as Pierce leading two consecutive drives ending in field goals to put his team up 33-23 at the end of the third quarter.

Calvillo and the Als got their offence back in gear as the fourth began when Calvillo hooked up with SJ Green - who showed amazing concentration in double coverage – for a 42-yard touchdown to crawl within two points. The touchdown was Calvillo’s 450th of his career.

The next drive produced three more points and the Bombers quick lead had vanished as the Als went up 34-33 off the foot of Whyte.

Calvillo continued to keep the Als in control in the fourth, leading a drive finished off by Whyte kicking a 36-yarder with 1:41 remaining to take a 37-33 lead.

The Bombers had one more shot with just under half a minute left but Pierce threw an interception to Byron Parker - his 30th career pick - to finish off the game.

The two teams will meet again in one week to complete a season-opening home-and-home in Montreal.

Hamilton vs Toronto
Jason Barnes scored two touchdowns while the Argos defence held off a last-second Hamilton surge to defeat the Tiger-Cats 39-34 in front of 29,852 boisterous fans at Rogers Centre.

The two teams met last year on the last game of the regular season and it went down to the wire.

The sequal did not dissapoint.

A back-and-fourth battle where two teams traded punches from the first play of the game to the very last. The Argos took the lead with 2:03 left on a Dontrelle Inman touchdown and DB Jalil Carter preserved the lead by tipping a ball out of the hands of Andy Fantuz on the last play of the game.

Prior to the game, the Argonauts officially unveiled their 100th Grey Cup Championship banner.

The Argos seemed to have picked up right where they left off last November as Ricky Ray engineered a 8-play, 83-yard opening drive finished off by an 8-yard touchdown strike to Jason Barnes to take an early 7-0 lead. Ray was simply in mid-season form going 24 of 34 for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Just a play later, however, rookie Lindsey Lamar shot down any doubt that the Tiger-Cats could be missing something in their return game when he took the ensuing kickoff back 104 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at sevens.

It was a little bit of history for the newcomer as he joined former Ticat Marcus Thigpen as the only player in CFL history to return a touchdown on their first career touch.

After Swayze Waters pulled a 47-yard field goal wide right for a single point, Burris put together an impressive drive of his own with the help of Lamar who put together three strong runs. Burris eventually found RB CJ Gable on busted coverage for the 9-yard touchdown score. The Argonauts sent blitz on the play but Gable got in behind the secondary for the ‘Cats first major of the season.

Gable was one of two tailbacks filling in for sophomore Chevon Walker who was scratched, the other being Lamar.

It only took a two-and-out forced by the Hamilton defence to get another opportunity to get behind the Argonauts defence. With just under a minute left in the first quarter, Burris found Andy Fantuz wide open down the seam for a 64-yard touchdown to take a 21-8 lead.

The Argos secondary had been a point of emphasis for the Boatmen in training camp given some of the personnel changes and early on the Ticats were finding a way to expose the backside of the defence.

With a bit of a hole, the Argonauts turned to their MVP from the last Grey Cup game to get them back in this one. Chad Kackert took a handoff at the beginning of the second quarter, found a hole and raced 57 yards for the majorto cut the Hamilton lead to 21-15.

The Cats answered with a 21-yard field goal before the Argos put up another major. Ray dropped back and found SB Jason Barnes wide open just as he was getting hit for a 73-yard catch and run which brought the large gathering at Rogers Centre to its feet. The TD cut the Ticats to 24-22.

Waters helped the Argos re-gain the lead shortly after with a 47-yard field goal but it was short lived as Burris lead a 6-play, 86-yard drive capped off by a 6-yard pass to Gable for the touchdown. It was his second of the game.

The drive was all wide receiver Greg Ellingson’s as the Florida International product hauled in two huge passes for a combined 60 yards to set the ‘Cats up in the redzone.

Hamilton entered halftime with a 31-25 lead.

The second half did not kickoff on a good note for the Boatmen – literally. Waters went down while kicking off and returned only briefly in the fourth quarter.

The ‘Cats added a 40-yard field goal off the foot of Luca Congi early to extend the lead to 34-25.

With Waters down, an unsung hero stepped up. Spencer Watt caught a 50-yard pass before things became interesting. Without a kicker, the Argos decided to go for it on third down and 6 at the Ticats 20 yard line. Watt would have been designated to kick the field goal but instead he hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass and added his own convert as well. It put the Argos within two points, 34-32.

Inman took over the punting duties for the remainder of the game.

The sophomore receiver then took hold of the lead when he leaped for a 10-yard touchdown on the Argonauts' next posession to give the Double Blue a 39-34 advantage.

The Argonauts continued to gamble on third down with Waters out but with just over 30 seconds remaining, were forced to kick it on third and long.

Inman punted back to Hamilton and on the strength of a poised Burris marched the 'Cats to the Argos five yard line. With 3 seconds left and the game on the line, Burris lobbed the ball into the endzone for Fantuz but Carter got his hands on the pass to give the Boatmen the victory.

The Argos next matchup is next week against the BC Lions in Vancouver while Hamilton hosts their opener in Guelph against the Edmonton Eskimos.
BC vs Calgary
Jon Cornish put together one of the best performances of his career, rushing for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns, leading the Stamps to a 44-32 win over the BC Lions at McMahon Stadium.
Tonight’s matchup was an emotional one for the city of Calgary, as it marked the first time the Stampeders were able to pay tribute to the victims and first responders of the devastating flood that ravaged the city earlier last week.
And it wouldn’t take long for the home team to give their fans something to finally cheer about.

After last year’s Most Outstanding Canadian Cornish powered his way into BC territory with a few big runs, including a 23-yard gain, QB Drew Tate connected with receiver Maurice Price, who managed to keep his legs in bounds in the back of the endzone, for a 12-yard touchdown.

But Calgary’s hot start didn’t end there.

Still in the first quarter, and with possession after Deron Mayo recovered a BC fumble, an inspired Cornish continued to impose his will on the Lions’ defence, taking a Tate pass 20 yards to the BC 12-yard line.

Two plays later, Tate found Joe West for a touchdown, increasing Calgary’s lead to 14-0.

Cornish admittedly entered Friday night’s contest with the flood victims in his mind, announcing via his Twitter account on Thursday that he would donate $10 for every yard he gains against BC.
While Cornish and Calgary’s offence were having no trouble moving the ball, BC’s was having a difficult time finding their rhythm, as QB Travis Lulay gave up the group’s second turnover of the half, with his pass intended for Emmanuel Arceneaux being picked off by Derrius Brooks.

Moments later, however, the Stamps swung the momentum pendulum slightly back in BC’s favour, as veteran Nik Lewis fumbled only two plays after the interception, giving possession right back to the Lions.

With the score now 16-0 thanks to a conceded safety by kicker Hugh O’Neill, Lulay, only two years removed from being named the league’s MOP, immediately took advantage of the fortunate bounce.

Without blinking an eye, Lulay looked towards Arceneaux again, this time connecting with his new target for a 53-yard touchdown.
The TD marked Arceneaux's first major since returning from a stint in the NFL.

On the ensuing convert, however, holder Tomas DeMarco had trouble with the snap, lifting the ball to turn it around after he initially pointed the laces towards kicker Hugh O’Neill.
DeMarco wasn’t able to correct the spot of the ball quick enough, as O’Neill attempted to put it through the uprights while he was still holding onto it, missing the convert as a result.

Despite their best efforts to regain some momentum, BC’s defence wasn’t able to contain Cornish, Tate and the rest of Calgary’s enthused offence.

Simply put, it was the Jon Cornish show in the first half of Friday night’s contest.

Carrying the ball twice for gains of 16 and 15 yards consecutively, Cornish eventually hit pay dirt, trotting into the endzone untouched from one-yard out, extending BC’s lead to 17 points.

The first half ended with the Stamps up 31-6, with West hauling in his second touchdown of the night, a 14-yard pass from Tate.

Cornish finished the first 30 minutes of action 109 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Tate was also impressive, completing 12 of his 17 passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns.

Lulay, on the other hand, completed 10 of his 18 passes for 150 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

But his lack of numbers may have been a result of some first opening game jitters, as the 29-year-old came out firing to start the third quarter.

Following a quick two-and-out by the Tate and the Stamps, Lulay embarked on a 10-play, 82-yard drive that was capped off by a 17-yard pass to Courtney Taylor for a touchdown.

The five minute-long drive seemed to inject a surge of momentum into the Lions.

On Calgary’s ensuing possession, Tate looked towards veteran Marquay McDaniel, who had the ball tip off his hands and right into the grasp of rookie Cord Parks who promptly returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

But Cornish was simply too much to handle.
The New Westminster, BC native led the Stamps on a furious charge, bruising his way to rushes of 5, 6, 7 and 7 yards consecutively before finding the endzone on an 11-yard carry, giving the Stamps a 38-21 lead in the process.
Both O'Neill and Stamps kicker Rene Paredes would exchange field goals in the fourth quarter to make it a 41-24 score in favour of the home team.
Paredes would tack on another field goal late in the fourth quarter, which was followed up by a TD grab by Shawn Gore with one second left on the clock to make the final score 44-32 for the Stamps.
Despite the result, Lulay had a solid night throwing for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns. His favourita target was Arceneaux, who finished his night with 3 receptions for 103 yards and a score.
On the defensive side of the ball, Charleston Hughes was a force, collecting three sacks on four tackles. Jonathan Hefney led all players in tackles with 10, in what was his debut in a Stampeders uniform.
Saskatchewan vs Edmonton
Kory Sheets opened the scoring and the Saskatchewan Roughriders never looked back, ending Week 1 in the CFL with a 39-18 win over the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Green Riders put four offensive touchdowns on the board while adding one defensive major en route to the convincing win. Sheets finished with 131 yards on 17 carries to accompany his major.

It was newcomer Mike Reilly’s first real opportunity to prove that he is the answer behind centre for the Eskimos following a solid pre-season. Last week in BC, he closed out the exhibition schedule with 202 yards on 13 of 18 passing. Reilly finished 17 of 34 for 259 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions.
The Riders entered without arguably their biggest off-season acquisition, SB Geroy Simon, who was injured in the club’s second pre-season game. That didn’t stop Darian Durant and the Saskatchewan offence from getting out to a sizzling start however.

On the second play from scrimmage Durant escaped a collapsing pocket and found SB Chris Getzlaf over the middle for a 29-yard gain which eventually set up a 19-yard Sheets scamper as he high-stepped the Riders to an early 7-0 lead. The possession covered 74 yards on 8 plays.

The Riders offence then started to get his whole offence involved, putting together a balanced second drive that featured a 29-yard reception to Getzlaf and a 14-yard run by Sheets before Durant found WR Taj Smith on a crossing pattern for a 13-yard touchdown to cap off a 9-play, 94-yard drive.

Down by 15 following a punt single, the Reilly started to find his footing midway through the second frame.

A 46-yard pass to Fred Stamps followed by a 12-yard quarterback draw set the Eskimos up in Saskatchewan territory but they could only come away with one point after K Grant Shaw pulled a 25-yard field goal attempt wide left and through the back of the endzone.

Reilly showed some of his mobility in the first half, rushing three times for 33 yards but couldn’t seem to string together enough plays to get the Esks in rhythm consistently against a tough Riders defence who came up large on the half’s final play.

With no time left on the clock and the Eskimos in the shadows of their own goal post, Edmonton opted to take a shot down field but Riley forced a throw into the hands of linebacker Rey Williams who ran his interception back 20 yards for a major and a 21-1 halftime lead.

Williams was making his Rider return after being signed as a free agent in the off-season following two years in Hamilton.

The Hofstra product spent his first three seasons in Regina, helping them win a Grey Cup in 2007 in his first season.

The Roughriders refused to cool down at the beginning of the third quarter putting two quick touchdowns on the board to open up a commanding 29-1 lead.

First, Durant connected with WR Weston Dressler for 38 yards before Getzlaf hauled in a 3-yard score.

The quarterback-receiver combo seemed to be on the same page as they connected on three passes for 67 yards.

The Riders forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and following a 29-yard Sheets run, added Scott McHenry to the touchdown list who recorded one from five yards.

Stamps tried to grab a bit of momentum for Edmonton on the next possession, taking in a 41-yard pass from Reilly to set up a 40-yard Shaw field goal. A conceded Riders safety made a small dent into the lead at 36-6.

Backup QB Drew Willy took over for the Riders in the fourth quarter with the game all but sealed up and promptly led a drive ending in a Chris Milo field goal.

Reilly would finally connect for his first major of the game when he found Stamps in the endzone for a 19-yard score with 6:07 left to cut the lead to 39-12 (the two-point conversion was no good). The posession spanned 5 plays, 66 yards.

Stamps would finish as the Esks' leading receiver making 5 catches for 106 yards and the touchdown.

The Riders offence indeed came out on fire but their defence and special teams were just as sharp, forcing six turnovers - three interceptions, two fumbles on special teams and one turnover on downs.

Edmonton recovered the ensuing onside kick but the Riders forced a turnover on downs at their own 17 yard line.

Shaw would add two field goals in the final two minutes from 37 and 28 yards out to get the score to its eventual final, 39-18.

The Eskimos will re-group before heading to Guelph to take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Week 2, while the Riders will prep for thier home opener against the Calgary Stampeders.