Saturday, July 27, 2013

CFL Recap Week 4

Scores and Standings

Toronto vs Winnipeg
Ricky Ray had three touchdowns and completed 19 of 20 passes, as the Toronto Argonauts cruised to an impressive 35-19 road win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field on Friday night.
The win didn't come without concern for the Argos, however, as Ray was forced out of the game in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury, during an exceptional performance in which his only incompletion came on a dropped ball in the first quarter.
Bombers pivot Buck Pierce, meanwhile, missed the entire second half after being rattled on a hit at the end of the second quarter, leaving backup pivots Justin Goltz and Zach Collaros to duel it out the rest of the way.
Pierce got the Bomber offence moving early on the first drive, with completions to Rory Kohlert and Clarence Denmark to move into scoring range inside the opening minute of the game. The drive stalled short of the end zone, but the effort led to a 34-yard field goal from Justin Palardy to give the Bombers a rare first-quarter lead.
Facing deafening crowd noise on the ensuing drive, Ray quickly got the Argos’ offence to work. The veteran pivot started with a key second-down conversion on a nine-yard completion to Andre Durie, before hitting on consecutive passes to Chad Owens and Jason Barnes to move the Boatmen into Winnipeg territory.

After a 19-yard catch-and-run for running back Chad Kackert took the Argos to the 15, Ray finished it off with a floating pass over the shoulder to Owens, who made an impressive adjustment to come up with the catch.

The touchdown capped off an eight-play, 68-yard drive over 5:18, giving Toronto a 7-3 lead midway through the opening quarter.

Following the early scoring, the defences seemingly settled in as the teams exchanged punts. But late in the first quarter, the Bomber offence got the volume up at Investors Group Field on a deep Pierce completion to Denmark for a 39-yard gain into Argos territory.

But again that Argo defence – while bending – did not break, eventually forcing Palardy to kick his second three-pointer of the night from 31 yards, making it a 7-6 game early in the second quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, a big defensive game would serve as a possible game-changer, as Jamie Robinson used his long reach to grab his first career interception, returning it 47 yards to the Winnipeg 30.

Then, like only the best quarterbacks know how to do, Ray took advantage on the ensuing play, hitting Spencer Watt on a corner route for a 30-yard touchdown pass to put the Argos in front 14-6.

The Boatmen weren’t done there though, again challenging the Blue and Gold vertically. Ray fired to Durie for a 36-yard gain to the Winnipeg seven-yard-line, then completed consecutive passes to newcomer John Chiles and Owens to get to the one.

A 1-yard plunge by Collaros put the quick scoring drive on ice, giving Toronto a 21-6 lead at the completion of the first half. Down by a pair of touchdowns, the Bombers had an uphill climb in the second half, particularly with Pierce not returning to action after taking a hit late in the second quarter.

And after completing 15 of 16 pass attempts in the opening half, Ray wasn't going to make it any easier in the next 30 minutes for the Bombers. The veteran completed three quick passes, including a key second-down conversion to Owens for 25 yards down to the Winnipeg 22.

Then on another second down, with the Bombers having Toronto’s receivers covered downfield, Ray found a seam up the middle and beat the Winnipeg defence with his feet.

The 18-yard touchdown run capped off an efficient eight-play, 80-yard drive, putting the Argos ahead 28-6 to start the second half of the game.

Shortly after moving into third all-time on the CFL completions list, passing Danny McManus, a scary moment occurred for the Argonauts and their star pivot. At the end of a long completion to Durie, Ray was taken down hard to the turf, appearing to be favouring his knee.

He was forced to leave the game and did not return, with Collaros coming in under centre to take his place.

The Argos finished the drive with a field goal, which was matched by a Winnipeg field goal to start the fourth quarter following a punt block by Teague Sherman, recovered by Cauchy Muamba.
With both starters out of the game, neither offence could muster up a lot of production the rest of the way. Chad Simpson scored a late major from a yard out, but it wouldn't be enough as the Argos held their ground en-route to a 35-19 win -- their first of the season away from the Rogers Centre.
While the Bombers failed to come back, Goltz made the most of his opportunity in the second half, completing 13 of 15 pass attempts for 170 yards. Pierce's status for next will is unknown, but the young Goltz may have made enough of an impression to get a better look sooner rather than later.
With the victory, the Argos split the four-way tie in the East Division, now sitting in first place with a record of 2-2. They'll return home to take on the BC Lions on July 30th.
The Bombers, meanwhile, get back at it a week from now, as they search for their first win at Investors Group Field on Friday Night Football against the Calgary Stampeders.
Montreal vs Calgary
The Calgary Stampeders scored 35 straight points, coming all the way back to defeat the Montreal Alouettes 38-27 on Saturday night at McMahon Stadium.
The win could have potentially come at a cost for the Stamps, as QB Kevin Glenn was injured in the third quarter with an apparent elbow injury. He did not return and Bo Levi Mitchell took over under centre in his place.
Prior to exiting the game, Glenn was solid, completing 18 of his 27 passes for 204 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
With the win, the Stamps swept the home and home and the season series against the Als.
While it didn’t take long for the offences to get rolling one week ago in Montreal, with the Als scoring on their opening drive, the same couldn’t be said for tonight’s clash, as both teams played to two and outs on their initial possessions.

But it wouldn’t take long for the Als to find their rhythm.

Taking over from their own 28 yard line, Calvillo marched his offence downfield with a solid combination of gains through the air and on the ground.

The 40-year-old pivot completed all four of his passes on the drive, the biggest of which found SJ Green on a flat for a 27-yard gain that set the Als up with a fresh set of downs from Calgary’s two-yard line.

One play later, tailback Brandon Whitaker trotted untouched into the endzone for a touchdown, giving Montreal an early 7-0 lead.

Following their early score last week against the Stamps, the Montreal offence went dry for the remainder of the game, a trend they didn’t want to continue tonight.

They were given an almost immediate chance to add to their lead thanks to an interception by middle linebacker Shea Emry, who took advantage of a tipped ball at the line.

While the Als were unable to find the endzone, they did put three more points on the board, courtesy of a 42-yard field goal by Sean Whyte.

From there, the floodgates appeared to open wide up for the Alouettes.

First, Green hauled in a ‘go up and get it’ pass from Calvillo and proceeded to run it in 58 yards for a major to extend Montreal’s lead to 17.

Then, with the first quarter winding down, Noel Devine gave his offence exceptional field position thanks to a 41-yard punt return that set the Als up on Calgary’s 22 yard line.

On their ensuing possession, Jerome Messam exploded up the middle for an 18-yard gain and followed that big run up with another carry up the middle, one that ended with him in the endzone to give Montreal a 24-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.

After the teams switched sides, the Stampeders embarked on an 11-play, 55-yard drive that didn’t result in a touchdown, but did give them their first points of the game, as Rene Paredes connected from 27 yards out to cut Montreal’s lead to three touchdowns.

The field goal was the 26th consecutive successful boot by Paredes, who is chasing Paul McCallum’s consecutive field goals record of 30.

From there, the Stampeder offence started to find their legs.

After the Als weren’t able to answer offensively, the Stamps went on another long drive, this time marching 88 yards downfield on nine plays, the last of which found Tim St. Pierre in the endzone off a one-yard pass from Mitchell who was in for a short-yardage play.

With just over a minute left in the first half, Paredes split the uprights once again, connecting from 41 yards out, extending his streak to 27-straight in the process.
Then, with 10 seconds left in the half - after the Stamps regained possession - Glenn scrambled and hooked up with Nik Lewis for a 10-yard touchdown strike.

The first half came to a close with the Als clinging to a 24-19 lead.

In their first three games of the season, Montreal has had trouble in third quarters, having been outscored by a combined total of 26-2.

On Saturday, the trend continued, as Calvillo wasn’t able to generate much traction offensively, highlighted by a failed third-and-short gamble that gave the Stamps excellent field position to start their second possession of the second half.

Montreal’s defence held strong, however, limiting the Stamps offence to just a field goal – the 28th straight connection by Paredes.

With just over five minutes to go in the third quarter, disaster struck for the Stampeders, as Glenn sustained the aforementioned injury.

Mitchell was inserted into the game as his replacement and kept the Stampeders offence afloat, as he almost immediately found Jon Cornish for an 11-yard touchdown, giving the Stamps a 28-24 lead.

The Stamps went for two but Mitchell’s pass was dropped by McDaniel.

On the ensuing kickoff, Devine broke through coverage for what looked like a sure-fire touchdown return. However, a hustling Fred Bennett stripped Devine of the ball before he hit the endzone, giving possession right back to the Stampeders.

And the Stamps would take advantage of Bennett’s excellent heads up play, as Mitchell orchestrated an impressive and lengthy drive that ended with Cornish finding the endzone from 11 yards out to give the Stamps a 35-24 lead.
The Als would cut Calgary's lead to 12 thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Whyte, but only momentarily, as Paredes restored Calgary's 11 point lead with his 29th straight field goal, this time from 46 yards out.
With just over a minute remaining in the game, Paredes was given a chance to tie McCallum's record, but saw his attempt blocked by Montreal's John Bowman.
However, the statistical rulebook states that for a legal kick to be made the ball must cross the line of scrimmage. In all cases of this kind the kicker is charged with a fumble and not a field goal attempt in the case where it is blocked and the ball is recovered behind the line of scrimmage.
As a result, Paredes' streak remains intact at 29.
Despite the missed chance at history, the Stampeders closed out the game strong, defeating the Als 38-27.
Next week, the Stamps will travel to Winnipeg to take on the Blue Bombers, while the Als head home to face the Eskimos.
Edmonton vs BC
Andrew Harris scored three touchdowns, while Travis Lulay threw for 284 yards and one touchdown as the BC Lions cruised to a 31-21 home win over the Edmonton Eskimos.
The win gave the Lions a sweep of their home and home series, one that saw them beat the Eskimos 17-3 in Edmonton one week ago.
Mike Reilly made his regular-season return to BC Place Stadium, but registered modest numbers in a losing effort. The former Lions backup completed just 12 passes for 152 yards and no touchdowns.
In both games against BC, Reilly has thrown for just 249 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions. He'll get one more chance to beat his former club in Week 18.
Harris, meanwhile, racked up 103 yards on the ground, leading the Lions to their eighth-straight win at home.
The first quarter saw very little action, as both teams were unable to break through on the offensive side of the ball.

The only scoring arrived by-way of a 47-yard field goal by kicker Grant Shaw, giving the Esks a 3-0 lead on their opening drive.

However, their lead was short-lived, as BC kicker Paul McCallum evened the score early on in the second quarter with a 36-yard field goal of his own.

The arrival of the second quarter also spurned the arrival of the offence, with the Lions getting things started first.

One play after Lulay found receiver Courtney Taylor for a 34-yard gain to bring the Lions to Edmonton’s 25 yard line, Esks rush end Odell Willis committed a costly roughing the passer penalty, bringing BC to the Esks’ 12-yard line.

One play later, Andrew Harris rumbled his way into the endzone for a touchdown, giving the Lions a 10-3 lead in the process.

But the sea-saw battle continued, as the Eskimos offence finally woke up.

First, offensive coordinator Doug Sams called a gutsy play, as QB Mike Reilly flipped it back to receiver Cary Koch who proceeded to throw it back to Reilly for a 16-yard gain.

On the next play, shifty tailback John White cut his through the line for a nine-yard gain, which set up a three-yard touchdown run by backup QB Kerry Joseph, tying the game at 10 apiece.

At the half, Lulay had completed 11 of his 17 passes for 137 yards and an interception. Reilly, meanwhile, was just 5-7 for 59 yards.

The biggest star offensively, however, was Harris, who registered 52 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

When the third quarter got underway, the Lions offence swung momentum back in their favour, as Lulay connected with receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux for a massive 77-yard touchdown to give BC a 17-10 lead.
The Lions would extend their lead on their next possession, with Harris stealing the show in the process. After a seven-yard grab by Arceneaux brought the Lions to Edmonton's 25 yard line, Harris ran to the outside on the next play and nearly leaped over an Eskimo defender straight into the endzone.
However, the official close to the play ruled him out at the one yard line.
One play later, Harris would reach the endzone for the second time, trotting into the endzone from one yard out.
The fourth quarter saw the Eskimos slowly chip away at BC's lead, as Shaw connected from 15 yards out, but missed on his next attempt from 51 yards out for a rouge, shrinking the Lions' lead to 10.
With less than five minutes to go, Reilly and the Eskimos were pressing to bring themselves within striking distance, but the QB threw a crucial interception to Jabar Westerman deep in his own end, allowing the Lions to take over from inside the Esks' red zone.
It was then that Harris put the game out of reach, taking a handoff and shifting through the line untouched for a three-yard touchdown to make the score 31-14.
Fred Stamps would score with just over a minute remaining to bring the Esks within 10, however it was a case of too little, too late, as the Lions held on for the win.
Next week, the Lions travel to Toronto to take on the Argos, while the Eskimos will also head east to face the Montreal Alouettes.
Hamilton vs Saskatchewan
If his sprained foot bothered him at all, Roughriders QB Darian Durant refused to show it in the slightest bit.
The 30-year old pivot was exceptional, completing 20 passes for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns, two to receiver Rob Bagg as the Roughriders beat the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats 37-0 on Sunday night.
Kory Sheets was also solid, rushing for 130 yards, eclipsing the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth straight game in the process. Bagg, meanwhile, finished with 5 catches for 152 yards in addition to his pair of scores.
Hamilton QB Henry Burris, meanwhile, completed 16 passes for 158 yards and no touchdowns.
The win marked the first Roughriders shutout since they beat the Blue Bombers 52-0 on Labour Day of last season.
Tonight’s tilt had all the makings of being an offensive shootout, but it took some time for both units to gather their bearings.

In fact, it wasn’t until the final minute of the opening quarter when the Riders began to establish themselves offensively.
Sheets, who has been red-hot through three games this season, ran the ball seven times for 32 yards through the first frame and kick-started the Riders on their first scoring drive of the game, running the ball 11 yards to the outside for a fresh set of downs.

From there, Saskatchewan’s offence moved downfield with a nice mix of runs and completions, one of which turned out to be Geroy Simon’s first as a Roughrider.

However, Durant wasn’t able to find the endzone, forcing the Riders to settle for a field goal, a 13-yard chip shot for Chris Milo.

On Hamilton’s ensuing possession, they seemed primed to reply with points of their own, as Burris quickly pushed his offence closer to Rider territory with apparent ease.

Heading into Week 4, the Riders defence had allowed a league-high 1,042 passing yards but countered that stat by registering the most interceptions with four.

True to form, when it looked like they were being victimized through the air, safety Craig Butler picked off Burris in the endzone, squashing the drive and any momentum it may have given the Ticats in the process.

Saskatchewan took advantage of the turnover, as Milo connected on his second field goal of the game, this time splitting the uprights from 47 yards out.

After a quick two-and-out by the Ticats, one that saw them hand the ball to running back Chevon Walker for the first time of the half, Durant and the Riders’ offence went to work on extending their lead.

First, Durant hooked up with two of his most reliable targets, as Taj Smith and Weston Dressler caught passes for gains of 32 and 12 yards respectively.
With a fresh set of downs, Durant then looked to Bagg, who hauled in a 28-yard pass in the endzone for his second touchdown in as many weeks.

The Riders would tack on three more points as the half expired, increasing their lead to 16-0 at the break.

The first half saw Durant complete 13 of his 23 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown, while Burris was solid as well, completing 11 of 17 attempts for 117 yards.

On the ground, Sheets ran for 36 yards on nine carries, while Walker had just one carry for five yards.

Until the later stages of the third quarter, there was little action to report offensively.

With less than three minutes to go in the frame, Durant took advantage of a costly pass interference penalty by Hamilton’s Rico Murray, one that negated what would have been the first interception thrown by the pivot this season.

But Durant quickly forgot about his slight miscue, as he proceeded to find Simon for a gain of 32 yards and followed that up immediately with a 12-yard strike to Dressler.

One play later, Durant hooked up with 310-pound guard Dan Clark for the big man’s first CFL touchdown, increasing their lead to 23-0.

But the Riders weren’t done just yet.

Following another quick two-and-out by the Ticats, Durant needed just one play to find the endzone again, this timefinding Bagg for his second major of the game.
From there, the Riders offence never looked back, as Durant followed up four-straight carries by Sheets by finding Dressler wide open in the endzone for a 28-yard touchdown, increasing their lead to 37.
In the win, Simon hauled in just to passes for 38 yards. It was his first taste of action since last year's Western Final, as he missed the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Riders were simply unstoppable. With Rey Williams' two sacks and three tackles leading the way, the Riders' D played to arguably their most complete effort of the young season.
Next week, the Ticats will get their shot at revenge, as the two teams will square off once again at Alumni Stadium in Guelph.