Saturday, June 27, 2015

Alouettes provide update on quarterbacks; Sam returns

 The Montreal Alouettes released a statement Friday afternoon updating te status of quarterbacks Jonathan Crompton and Dan LeFevour.  The club also confirmed the return of international defensive lineman Michael Sam.

"The Montreal Alouettes have been informed that international defensive end Michael Sam has arrived in Montreal and is expected to attend team meetings on Sunday and to resume practice on Monday at 11:20 a.m.," the statement said.

Sam left the Alouettes during training camp after signing a two-year contract with the team before the start of the season. While citing personal reasons for his departure, there was no indication of whether or not he'd be returning to the CFL. 
The Als placed Sam on their suspended list to retain his rights in case he returns.
The Montreal quarterbacks are another story following injuries that seemed like they occured within plays from one another if it were not for the halftime break in yestrerday's loss to Ottawa.

"It's also expected that quarterback Dan LeFevour will undergo shoulder surgery and he could miss the remainder of the season. He dislocated his left shoulder in the third quarter of Thursday night's game against the Ottawa REDBLACKS."

The good news for the Alouettes is that Crompton's injury seems to not be as serious as many initially suspected.  The team confirmed that he had sustained a shoulder injury but stated his status was "day-to-day".

Esks QB Reilly injured in loss to Argonauts

 After a Friday night that saw the Montreal Alouettes lose their #1 and #2 options under centre, two more injuries have sidelined CFL quarterbacks.

The Eskimos may have lost more than their season-opener on Saturday as they await news on Reilly.
Reilly was carted off the field in the fourth quarter of the Esks' 26-11 loss to the Toronto Argonauts in Fort McMurray, his leg taped up after suffering an apparent leg injury. The extent of the injury is unknown while the team has not yet released a statement.
Now in his third season as the Esks' starting quarterback, Reilly threw for 170 yards on 16-of-28 passing with a touchdown vs. Toronto. He was replaced by backup quarterback Matt Nichols. 
The Eskimos get a week off before playing their home opener against the Ottawa REDBLACKS in Week 3 on July 9.

Durant out for the season with ruptured Achilles

The Saskatchewan Roughriders confirmed late Saturday night that quarterback Darian Durant will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles. 

Durant was carted off the field after falling awkwardly on the Roughriders final drive of the first half.  At halftime, Roughriders head coach Cory Chamblin confirmed that he would not return and would be replaced by quarterback Kevin Glenn.

Durant was seen with his leg in a boot and on crutches on the sideline in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Chamblin said that "we will have an answer Monday morning" on the star pivot but the club later confirmed his fate in a statement shortly thereafter.

Bombers' backs run wild in 30-26 win over Riders

 The Winnipeg Blue Bombers duel threat tailbacks teamed up for 241 combined yards and 3 touchdowns in a 30-26 season opening win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders Saturday evening at Mosaic Stadium.

Paris Cotton ripped off 108 yards on the ground and added 59 yards and a major through the air.  His fellow running back Cameron Marshall added 2 majors of his own, one on the ground and one in the air.

It was the first Winnipeg win in Saskatchewan in 3,948 days after going 0-11 in Regina since 2004. 

A long off-season for the Riders after exiting the playoffs in the first round was even longer for Darian Durant who spent the second half of the year on the injured list with a dislocated elbow suffered against these very same Bombers.What was a loss for the Riders was made even more troublesome given what happened to starting quarterback Darian Durant.  The Riders leader sustained an injury just before halftime and was carted off the field.

It was announced shortly after the game that he was out for the season with a ruptured Achilles.
Durant was 13 of 18 for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns before he left. Veteran backup Kevin Glenn entered for the remainder of the game.
Early reports indicated that he suffered an Achilles injury but nothing was confirmed immediately.
Durant joins a list of quarterbacks that have gone down in Week 1. The Toronto Argonauts started the season without Ricky Ray and the Alouettes lost Jonathan Crompton and Dan LeFevour. The Edmonton Eskimos look like they will be without Mike Reilly for some time after he too was carted off the field early in the day vs. the Argos.
After each offence felt each other out for most of the first half, the Bombers struck first when Willy led an impressive six-play drive where he completed passes to Nick Moore, Clarence Denmark and Justin Veltung before hitting  Cotton on a screen pass for a 5-yard touchdown pass.
An early 7-0 lead was only briefly enjoyed however as the Riders countered with a score of their own as the second quarter began.
After RB Anthony Allen took a direct snap and rumbled for a 22-yard gain, slotback Taj Smith hauled in a Durant pass on crosser and out-ran the Bombers defence for a 36-yard touchdown to tie things up.
Smith is looking for somewhat of a bounce-back season after a stellar 2013 where he generated 1,007 yards and 7 touchdowns. An injury-plagued 2014 saw him only put up 397 and a trio of majors.
In what was a defensive battle early on quickly became an offensive showcase in the second frame.
First, the Bombers leaned on their two tailbacks to restore the lead as a 20-yard scamper by Cotton helped set up a 10-yard and 2-yard runs by Marshall who used the latter to put Winnipeg back up 14-7.
Like their previous lead, it was short-lived. The ensuing drive saw Durant step into a deep ball which fell right into the arms of sophomore receiver Ryan Smith who was in behind coverage. It was 52-yards later and Smith was in the endzone untouched.
Durant’s injury occurred on the Riders final drive of the half, one that had already lost veteran linebacker Shea Emry and started without receiver Weston Dressler who was a late inactive.
Enter the league’s most reliable insurance policy in Glenn who decided to match the dominant rushing attack of the Bombers. On the second play from scrimmage in the half, Glenn handed the ball off to Jerome Messam and the hulking veteran trucked down field 53 yards for a touchdown.
Durant Down and Out for the Season

Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant is carted off the field after sustaining an injury.  He did not return and was seen on crutches as the second half started.  After the game it was confirmed that he will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles ...
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Saskatchewan’s next drive saw Messam and Allen team up for 51 yards but it went for not as Chris Milo pulled a 35-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Cue the Bombers backfield who teamed up to tie the ball game once more. First, Cotton juked his way to a 31-yard scamper and then Marshall took a handoff 11-yards for a major. His 2-point conversion on the next play tied the game up at 23 near the end of third quarter.
A Milo field goal gave the Riders a 26-23 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining.

|The Bombers, however, just kept bouncing back.
Willy calmly led a critical fourth-quarter drive, connecting with Denmark and Darvin Adams for first downs before throwing a strike to Moore who dove to snag the 18-yard touchdown to lift Winnipeg to a 30-26 lead.
The big question mark for the Riders will be the quarterback situation which looks like it will rest in the hands of Glenn who prepares for the Toronto Argonauts.
The Bombers will head home to host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Investors Group Field.

Newcomers, Harris lead Argos over Esks in Fort McMurray

Trevor Harris was on point while the newcomers came up big, powering the Toronto Argonauts to a 26-11 season-opening win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday evening in Fort McMurray.

The Eskimos lost not only the game but potentially their starting quarterback, meanwhile, as Mike Reilly left the game late in the fourth quarter after suffering an apparent knee injury. The extend of the injury is unknown.With starting quarterback Ricky Ray on the shelf and an infusion of new talent on both sides of the ball, the Argos rose to the challenge in their ‘home opener’ away from home, scoring a pair of second-half touchdowns to separate themselves from the Eskimos and start the season off on the right foot.
Harris, the heir apparent to Ray making just his second career start, threw for 347 yards on 24-of-27 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions to stymie the CFL’s top-ranked pass defence in 2014. Recent addition Brandon Whitaker caught one of those touchdown passes as did rookie receivers Vidal Hazelton and Tori Gurley, while Dave Stala took on kicking and punting duties after Swayze Waters left the game due to injury.
Reilly threw for 170 yards on 16-of-28 passing with one touchdown in the loss before leaving the game, while Kenny Stafford caught his first touchdown in Green and Gold -- but in the end the Edmonton offence just couldn’t do enough against an aggressive, new-look Argo defence.
After a first-half stalemate, a fast-moving Eskimos’ drive ended abruptly on a Reilly fumble recovered by Brandon Isaac, back in an Argo uniform after a two-year absence. The Argos opened things up after that with the deep ball, and making the big play was a big rookie receiver in Kevin Elliott.
Elliott stretched all the way out to haul in a highlight-reel grab from Harris for a 53-yard gain, and on the next play Harris connected with rookie receiver Hazelton for a 1-yard touchdown pass, giving the Argos a 16-10 third-quarter lead.
On the first play of the fourth quarter Harris came up big again, threading the needle to Chad Owens in the seam for a 34-yard gain down to the Edmonton 18 on Owens’ fifth catch of the game. Harris then went straight to another rookie receiver in Gurley on the corner route, who hauled in the pass over Patrick Watkins for a 17-yard touchdown reception.
The Argos converted on the two-point try and Harris’ third touchdown pass of the game made it 25-11 early in the fourth quarter.
Looking to battle back quickly, the Eskimos got their offence moving again after a 26-yard reception by Stafford, his fourth catch of the game. But with nine minutes remaining, a third-down gamble came up short as Jordan Lynch was stopped a yard shy of the first down marker.
Edmonton had one last chance, down two possessions and getting the ball back with just over six minutes remaining. A fumbled punt and Argo recovery led to receiver-turned-kicker Stala's first career field goal try, but the veteran pulled the kick wide left. A single point on the miss made it 26-11 Argos.
Ricky who? Trevor Harris had himself a day in his second career start, throwing for 347 yards on 24-of-27 passing with three touchdowns.
The Eskimos looked again to rally with just under four minutes remaining, starting with a completion to Adarius Bowman for a first down out of the gate. With the gain on the play also came a key loss, however, as Reilly was injured on the play after the tackle by Cleyon Laing. Laing was hit with a roughing the passer penalty, moving Edmonton up the field with Matt Nichols entering the game.
Nichols failed to continue the drive from there, while the Argo defence held the Green and Gold offence virtually scoreless in the entire second half (one single was all the Eskimos could muster) to hold on for the 26-11 victory.
The northern-most regular season game in CFL history was an Argos home game and it started out slowly. After both teams moved the ball out of the gate but couldn't finish drives with touchdowns, a muffed punt return by Owens set up the game's first major, a 26-yard touchdown grab by Stafford, the second of his career and his first as an Eskimo.
Down 7-3, the Argos responded quickly on the first quarter's final play. Harris found Whitaker on a wheel route down the sideline and the former Alouettes running back sprinted in open field for a 57-yard touchdown, making it 10-7 Toronto.
While the Eskimos tied it heading into the half, the Argo newcomers made all the difference after that as Gurley and Hazelton scored their first career touchdowns to give Toronto a league it would not relinquish.
Meanwhile, Harris took full advantage of only his second career start. Harris completed 15 of his first 16 passes for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns, all against the CFL’s leading secondary in 2014 -- one that allowed an average of 206.7 passing yards per game in and 54.7 per cent completion percentage, both tops in the league.
In his first game as an Argo after being released by Montreal following pre-season, Whitaker rushed for 117 yards on 14 carries and chipped in 57 yards and a touchdown on one reception, totalling 174 yards in his Double Blue debut. Owens was the game's leading receiver, meanwhile, with 99 yards on seven catches.
Bowman, last year the CFL's leading receiver, finished with six catches for 61 yards while Chad Simpson had 33 yards on the ground.
The Argos hit the road next Sunday to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders looking to build on an excellent start, while the Eskimos get a week off to reflect before playing their home opener vs. the Ottawa REDBLACKS on July 9.

Paredes boots Stamps to last second win over Ticats

 Bo Levi Mitchell led a late fourth quarter drive and Rene Paredes hit a game-winning field goal with zeros on the clock to give the Calgary Stampeders a 24-23 win in a thriller over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday night at McMahon.

As is the tradition in the last decade, the two previous Grey Cup representatives squared off in Week 1.  Friday was a rematch of one of the closest Grey Cup game's in recent memory, one that was almost taken by the 'Cats were it not for a called back punt return touchdown with 35 seconds left on the clock.

This too had a flare for the dramatics with Hamilton controlling the scoreboard for most of the contest only to have Mitchell connect with receiver Jeff Fuller for a massive 28-yard catch to set up the Paredes winner.

Fuller was a handful all night for the Tiger-Cats secondary as the Texas A&M product generated 148 yards on 9 receptions.

Johnny Sears Jr. recorded two interceptions and a sack in his Ticats debut -- one of which he took to the house -- but it was not enough for Hamilton. The game marked the first time in Bo Levi Mitchell's career that he has thrown three interceptions in a single contest.
Fuller reeled in a 49 yard grab with the tip of his fingers to put the Stamps into scoring territory earlier in the quarter. After Jon Cornish was stuffed on second down, Ted Laurent and the Ticats defensive line would deny Drew Tate on third and goal for a huge goal line stand with five minutes left in the game. Calgary's defence would pin the Ticats deep in their zone and avoided any damage from their inability to score before
It didn't take long for history to be made in the game. Cornish got to work early and passed Willie Burton for fifth all-time in Stamps rushing yards on the team's opening drive.
It was just a few plays later that Sears Jr. intercepted Mitchell and returned the pick 75 yards to give the Ticats an early 7-0 lead.
Fuller was an early favourite target for Mitchell but it was Eric Rogers who hauled in a 30-yard pass to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first.
In the final minute for the opening frame, Brandon Banks was back to tormenting special teams, returning a punt 67 yards to put the Ticats up 15-7, a lead they would carry over into the second quarter.
The Ticats would be forced to give up a safety after an errant snap attempt on a punt bounced all the way to the endzone, where kicker Justin Medlock opted to give up the two points by kicking it out of bounds to avoid further damage.

Hamilton would give up another point to shorten its lead to 15-10 after a booming 58-yard punt from Rob Maver landed in the Ticats endzone with no return.
A short Hamilton punt put the Stampeders on the 49-yard line to start their drive but could not drive any further as they were stuffed on a third and inches quarterback sneak attempt.
Zach Collaros started the game 10 for 10 on pass attempts until his first incompletion late in the second quarter.
A big hit from Buddy Jackson on Andy Fantuz on a scoring play resulted in Fantuz being helped off the field. He would return to start the second half. Medlock’s field goal extended the Ticats’ lead to 18-10, one they carried into halftime.
Bakari Grant had a 55-yard gain called back in the early third quarter after he was flagged for offensive interference. A big return from Tim Brown put the Stamps in great field position for their first drive on the second half but Craig Butler intercepted Mitchell in the end zone. It was Mitchell’s second pick of the game and another wasted opportunity for Calgary.
Collaros continued to drive the Ticats downfield, highlighted by a 40-yard juggling grab by Terrell Sinkfield.
However, Keon Raymond intercepted Collaros and returned the pick 95 yards to cut the lead to 18-16. Cornish then rumbled through for the two point conversion and tied the game at 18.
Medlock closed out the third quarter with a field goal to put the Ticats back on top 21-18.
Ray Holley, filling in at running back for the Ticats after Grigsby was ruled out earlier in the week, finished the game with 24 yards on eight attempts.
Both teams are on the road next week as Hamilton travels to Winnipeg while Calgary faces Montreal.

The next time last year's Grey Cup participants will meet is in Week 15 in Hamilton.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Johnson's late TD lifts REDBLACKS over Als in opener

The story was Canadian QB Brandon Bridge but the win went to the Ottawa REDBLACKS who opened the 2015 CFL season with a 20-16 road victory over the Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium Thursday night.

Backup tailback Jeremiah Johnson punched in a 6-yard score after Jovon Johnson intercepted Bridge early in the fourth quarter to put the REDBLACKS in the lead, one which they would not relinquish.
First it was Jonathan Crompton who got hurt. Then Dan LeFevour went down on his first snap. Enter Bridge.

Bridge replaced LeFevour after the latter was rocked by a huge hit on his first snap under centre substituting for Crompton, who was sitting as a precaution after bruising his shoulder. He is the first Canadian quarterback to see action in a game since Danny Brannagan did for the Toronto Argonauts in 2010.
The game was a tale of two halves for Henry Burris, who threw three interceptions in the opening half but settled down in the second to guide his team to the win.
Bridge’s first pass completion was to S.J. Green for a 19 yard gain. The drive finished in a 37-yard field goal from Boris Bede to break the tie and put Montreal up 16-13, a lead they carried over into the final quarter.
Burris finished 23 of 36 for 263 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
On the REDBLACKS' first drive of the second half, punter Anthony Alix ran for 11 yards and the first down to continue the drive for Ottawa. In a milestone moment for Burris, he completed his 4000th career pass on a 19-yard catch by Greg Ellingson.
On a 3rd-and-1, Ottawa opted to go for what looked like a field goal but faked the play and Thomas DeMarco snuck through for the first down. Burris then connected with Ernest Jackson for the touchdown.
Down two points after the score, the REDBLACKS opted to go for two, marking the first two-point convert attempt in 2015 from three-yard-line. Burris got around the corner and reached for the end zone, eventually getting the call his way after an official review. That tied the game at 13-13.
Running back Tyrell Sutton, now the starter for the Alouettes after the release of Brandon Whitaker, scored the first touchdown of the 2015 season to give the Als an opening 6-0 lead.
Delbert Alvarado’s first career field goal attempt was blocked by John Bowman, leaving the REDBLACKS empty-handed.
The REDBLACKS got good field position after pinning Montreal deep and getting the ball back again near midfield, but the offence stalled with no points on the board. Both offences moved the ball but neither could take full advantage as the first quarter ended with Montreal ahead 6-0.
Burris would continue to move the REDBLACKS down the field to start the second quarter but had a pass tipped by his lineman that was then intercepted by Alan-Michael Cash. Crompton didn’t fare much better on the next drive as he was picked off by Moton Hopkins.
Bridge enters with Crompton, LeFevour sidelined

Jonathan Crompton and Dan Lefevour both left Thursday's opener with injuries.  Their immediate status is unknown but Brandon Bridge entered in the third quarter. In doing so, Bridge became first Canadian quarterback to see action in a game since Danny Brannagan did for the Toronto Argonauts in 2010...Read More | Watch More

Alvarado’s second field goal attempt, this one from 40 yards out, was successful and cut the Als lead in half, 6-3.
After being trapped deep in its own territory, Montreal opted to give up the safety instead of testing out the return skills of Chris Williams to cut Montreal’s lead to 6-5.
Burris looked to continue the building momentum after strong work from his defence but quickly turned the ball over on another interception, this time to Jonathan Hefney. Nik Lewis would then catch his first ball as an Alouette midway through the second quarter.
Crompton connected with Jean-Cristophe Beaulieu on a four yard pass for a touchdown. Bede converted the point after attempt as the Als extended their 13-5 lead.
Late in the second quarter, Williams would move the REDBLACKS up 40 yards after a huge catch put Ottawa into Alouettes territory. However, the next play Burris threw his third interception of the first half as Billy Parker would quickly end Ottawa’s offensive threat.
Montreal could not turn its extra possession into any damage and finished the first half with a 13-5 lead.

When play resumed in the third quarter we learned that Crompton would not return.  The same for LeFevour shortly thereafter.

Momentum swung the REDBLACKS way after that with Johnson punching in the winner.

The REDBLACKS return home on a high as they prepare to host the BC Lions at TD Place while the Als regroup to host the defending Grey Cup Champion Clagary Stampeders with a quarterback situation that is far from solved,

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Eskimos edge Lions in final pre-season game

 In the final pre-season game of the 2015 season, BC Lions fell short to the Edmonton Eskimos, however, BC fans were relieved to see an impressive first half from quarterback, Travisy Lulay.
With all eyes squarely on the quarterback, Travis Lulay many people were anxious to see how the veteran would play after having a shoulder procedure done last season.
Lulay played the entire first half, passing for 123 yards and completed over 61 per-cent of his passes including passing for a touchdown in the process.
It didn’t take long for everyone to see how fit Lulay was for football activity in a game environment. With the Lions receiving the ball to begin the game, Lulay trotted onto the field. It only took the second play of the game for the pivot to take his first hit and quickly get back to his feet.
By the end of the series, Lulay led the Leos down the field that finished with a 25-yard touchdown catch and run by wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux to open up the scoring.
On the Eskimos’ first series they were able to cut the home-sides lead to four. After a first down rush and a pair of receptions, back-to-back plays, the Eskimos had to settle with a 48-yard field goal by Grant Shaw.
Entering the third offensive series, the Lions were still being led by Lulay. It took no time for him to build some chemistry with first-year CFLer Austin Collie.

On the series, he found Collie for the second time in the game for a big gain to put the Lions in field goal territory. The Lions would settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt. However, kicker Richie Leone’s boot sailed wide left and the Eskimos returned it out of their end zone, resulting in zero points.
Quarterback Travis Lulay completed 8-of-13 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown in his pre-season debut.
After a pair of offensive series, Matt Nichols came in to replace Mike Reilly.
At the end of the opening quarter, BC led 7-3.
The Eskimos continued to chip away at the Lions lead. On the second play of the second quarter, Shaw nailed a 41-yard field goal to make the score 7-6 Lions.
After a lengthy drive, that saw the Lions move the chains on three occasions they once again had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt by Leone that went wide of the uprights.
Again the Eskimos returned the missed kick out of the end zone.
Leone shook off his early struggles in the kicking department, and booted a long punt that pinned the Eskimos inside their five yard line.
With the Eskimos under the helm of James Franklin, he began deep in Eskimo territory with four minutes to go.
After finding Kenny Stafford for a first down and a pass interference call downfield, the Eskimos continued to march downfield. With time ticking down in the half, Franklin found Stafford for the major to give the Eskimos their first lead in the game, 13-7.
With the first half dwindling down, Lulay led the Lions on their final drive of the half. After a penalty gave the Lions favourable field positon, Lulay found Collie for the third time in the half for another big gain to set up Leone for the 24-yard field goal with only three seconds left in the half, to trim the lead to 13-10.
On the kickoff, the Eskimos had a great return, plus after two Lion penalties on the kickoff it resulted with Shaw having a 28-yard field goal, but missed it resulting in a rouge to end the first half.
The Eskimos went into the half with the 14-10 lead.
To being the second half, Edmonton began with possession. Franklin was able to move the offence down the field thanks to receptions from Adarius Bowman and Kenny Stafford, as well as some timely BC Lion penalties.
Shaw would set up for a 37-yard field goal attempt that once again went wide, settling for a rouge to give the Eskimos a five-point advantage, 15-10.
Jonathan Jennings replaced Travis Lulay as the quarterback to commence the Lions first second half drive.
Another promising drive for the Eskimos stalled, and the kicking struggles continued with Grant Shaw hitting the upright and out from 22-yards out late in the third quarter.
The Eskimos defence was able to shutout the Lions in the third quarter and added a trio of points after Shaw knocked in a field goal from 41 yards out.

Early in the fourth, the teams would trade interceptions. First, Eskimos defensive back Aaron Grymes picked off Jennings and returned it into BC Lions territory.

A few plays later Franklin tried finding a receiver in the end zone, but over threw him and Keynan Parker was able to intercept the ball and halt the Eskimos drive.

Jennings was then able to make up for his earlier interception by leading the Lions down field resulting in an Anthony Fera 49-yard field goal, to cut the deficit to 18-13.

With under five minutes left Greg McGhee came into the game and he made his first completion to Marco Iannuzzi who turned up field for a significant gain and had the Lions knocking on the door.

After deciding to go for it after the three-minute warning, McGhee was sacked by Willie Jefferson resulting in a turnover on downs.
To open the season, Edmonton will travel to Fort McMurray to play the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday, June 27. The BC Lions will start the season on a bye and play their first game in Ottawa on Saturday, July 3.

Stamps edge past Riders thanks to fourth quarter rally

Bryant Moniz rushed for three quarterback sneaks as the Calgary Stampeders rallied past the Saskatchewan Roughriders 37-29 on Friday night at Mosaic Stadium.
Calgary scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback over the Riders. The Stamps had come close to taking the lead throughout the game but the Riders always managed to stay ahead.
Keith Toston’s 14 yard rush to the goal line led to Moniz’s third plunge of the game and put the Stampeders up by eight points. Drew Tate hit Kamar Jorden with a touchdown pass earlier in the quarter to give the Stamps a 30-29 lead, its first of the game.
Tate connected with Lemar Durant to put the Stamps on the goal line on the first play of the final frame before Moniz rushed in his second score of the game.
Kevin Glenn took over duties under centre from Darian Durant halfway through the third quarter and connected with Alex Carroll on a 21 yard touchdown to go up 26-16. On the last play of the third quarter, Adam Berger recovered a fumble for the Stamps deep in Riders’ territory to threaten the lead that Saskatchewan would carry into the fourth quarter. An O’Neill field goal would put the Riders back up by six.
Saskatchewan kept many of its starters in the game at the beginning of the second half. After Darian Durant led the Riders downfield, the team set up Hugh O’Neill for a field goal attempt. However, the Riders ended up missing a player in the kicking unit and were forced to take a delay of game penalty. That would prove costly as O’Neill ended up missing the now 47 yard attempt.
Tate, the trusty backup quarterback for Calgary, started the second half for the Stamps. He connected on a series of passes, including a 25 yard missile to Lemar Durant. Tyler Crapigna would cap the first drive of the second half with a 31 yard chip shot to reduce the Riders’ lead to only three.
The teams saved much of the scoring action for the first half as the starters would watch the rest of the game from the sidelines after 30 minutes.
Nic Demski took the majority of kick returns for the Riders, a role he could be primarily featured in for Saskatchewan this year. After Rene Parades missed a 50 yard field goal attempt, Demski returned the ball all the way to the 38 yard line to put Durant in good position to try to extend the lead. He would then prove to the hometown fans that he is not worried about taking a hit, going head first on an 11 yard rush. A few plays later, he was intercepted by Jeff Hecht. The Stamps were able to squeeze in a 51 yard field goal as the first half clock ticked down and headed to the locker room in a 19-13 hole.
Bo Levi Mitchell did not start the game on a good note as he threw an interception to Jeff Knox on his second play of the Stamps’ opening drive that put the Riders in great field position early on. Durant would connect with Rob Bagg on a 34 yard pass before Chris Getzlaf hauled in an 11 yard score. On the point after attempt, the ball slipped through Weston Dressler’s hands and the Riders failed to add an extra point to their early lead.
Jeff Knox intercepted Bo Levi Mitchell on the Stamps' opening drive.
The second drive for Mitchell would turn out much better, connecting with Joe West on a 52 yard completion. Moniz would come in under centre for Calgary for a play before Mitchell replaced him to continue the drive. He wouldn’t be able to get the Stamps any further than the 14 yard line where Rene Parades hit a field goal to cut Saskatchewan’s lead in half, 6-3.
After a pass interference call brought the Riders to the goal line at the beginning of the second quarter, Brett Smith’s number was called at pivot and he delivered by diving into the end zone for the second Saskatchewan touchdown of the game to go up 13-3.
Following the score by Smith, Sederrick Cunningham would return the ball 72 yards to shorten the field for Calgary. Jon Cornish would plow through the Riders defence to the goal line but was stopped before being able to score. Moniz would then make his second appearance and complete the drive of rushes by punching it in for Calgary to shorten the Riders lead to only a field goal.
The Riders would rely heavily on Anthony Allen during a drive in the second quarter, going to him on three straight plays but he did not make much headway. Chris Milo connected on his second 47 yard kick to cut the deficit to just six.
Mitchell had a bit of a miscommunication with his running back that resulted in him having to rush the ball. He was tackled and lost the football to Riders newcomer Shea Emry, who recovered the fumble for another Riders start in good field position. The offence could only muster a field goal to extend the Saskatchewan lead.
Kickoff at Mosaic Stadium was briefly delayed for approximately 15 minutes following a light hail storm around the stadium.
It was the first pre-season game for Weston Dressler, who caught three passes for 34 yards.

Collaros, Holley pace Ticats over Bombers

 A strong combined first half performance by Zach Collaros and Ray Holley helped lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a 26-15 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in pre-season action on Friday at Investors Group Field.
Collaros threw for 183 yards on 14 of 17 passing with one touchdown before being taken out at the end of the second quarter. It was the first time that he played this pre-season.
Rookie running back Holley had an equally impressive showing with 37 rushing yards on eight carries and scored one touchdown. Ticats kicker Justin Medlock was perfect on four field goal atempts and two extra points to contribute the majority of the Ticats' scoring. 
Drew Willy went 11-for-17 for 142 yards in a losing effort while Paris Cotton scored the team's only touchdown.
The Tiger-Cats opened the scoring early on their first drive of the game with a 15-yard play from Collaros to Bakari Grant at 1:24 for a touchdown. The match marks the end of the pre-season for both teams.
But the Bombers were quick to respond. A 45-yard play from Drew Willy to Clarence Denmark would place the bombers at the Tiger-Cats 23 yard line. The Bombers progressed down the field, which led to a handoff to Cameron Marshall for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:32 left in the quarter to tie the game.
Tiger-Cats kicker Medlock notched a 49-yard field goal near the end of the quarter to put the Tiger-Cats up 10-7 at the end of the first.
The second quarter was dominated by the Black and Gold. A first down from Holley led to Medlock’s second field goal of the game from 19 yards out. Holley continued his impressive first half with an 8-yard touchdown to end the second quarter 20-7.
Jeremiah Masoli went into the third quarter for Hamilton and struggled throughout the half, completing only 6 of 15 passes. Medlock’s 21-yard field goal in the third was the only the scoring in the quarter and extended Hamilton’s lead 23-7.
But the Bombers did not go down without a fight.  
Cotton’s two-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 23-13 after the conversion failed.  Medlock then added his final field goal of the night while the Bombers added a late safety. 
But that was as close at the Bombers would get.
Bombers running back Carlos Anderson left with an injury early in the first quarter and did not return. Bombers rookie receiver Addison Richards also left the game and did not return.
The Tiger-Cats open their season on on June 26 with a Grey Cup rematch against the Calgary Stampeders. The Bombers meanwhile kick off their campaign on June 27 in a rivalry match against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Justin Medlock provided most of the Ticats' offense by connecting on all four field goal tries and two converts.

Key Takeaways: Two defensive TDs pull Boatmen past Als

 The Toronto Argonauts defence forced five turnovers, two for touchdowns, as they finished the pre-season with a decisive 30-10 win over the Montreal Alouettes Thursday night at Percival Molson Stadium.
A secondary still looking for the right blend of starters as the regular season nears found its footing, picking off three passes, two of which were taken back for touchdowns in the second quarter.

Similar to last win over Ottawa, Montreal opened the game with Jonathan Crompton under centre and most of the starting offence with him. Included in that group was a pair of veterans who were picked up in the offseason, Nik Lewis and Fred Stamps. 
Crompton had instant field position to start the game following a big return by another veteran pickup, Stefan Logan, who took the opening kickoff back 55 yards. A 10-yard run by RB Brandon Whitker and 33-yard reception by Cody Hoffman allowed Crompton to hand the ball off to Johnathan Bryant on 3-rd-and-goal as he took the fly sweep one yard in for the opening drive major.  
The Argos gave the start to Trevor Harris once again who will take on that role for the foreseeable future with Ricky Ray placed on the 6-game injured list earlier in the week.
Harris had a solid first possession, mixing up the pass and run and relying on rookie tailback Henry Josey, who’s carry of 10 yards and reception of 14 help set up a 42-yard Swayze Waters field goal.
Josey is vying for that secondary tailback spot which may quickly become a starting role after Curtis Steele was banged up in practice this past week and was listed as “questionable” for Week 1 by head coach Scott Milanovich.
After an impressive opening drive, Crompton quickly got contained by an active Argos defence. A forced two-and-out was sandwiched between two interceptions by Crompton which not only put Toronto back in the game, gave them the lead.
On Crompton’s last pass, his toss was jumped by Indiana grad DB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah who took the interception 40 yards to the house for a touchdown.
After the Argos added a field goal on their next drive, the Argos secondary once again put points on the board. This time it was Dan LeFevour who entered the game with 7:29 remaining for his first reps as a Montreal Alouette after spending his first two seasons in Hamilton.
LeFevour dropped back on his third attempt of the game, spotted a familiar target in former Ticat Sam Giguere but the veteran receiver couldn’t squeeze the pigskin and his drop fell into the hands of Argos DB Brandon Smith whose 29-yard interception return TD put the Boatmen up 20-7 before half.
The Alouettes had an opportunity to cut into the lead when they took over possession at the Argos 33 yard line following an Andre Durie fumble. LeFevour completed passes to Giguere and Dobson Collins but failed to convert a third-down-and-goal when his toss was dropped by Hoffman, sending Montreal to the locker room down by 15.
Quarterback Trevor Harris will lead the Argos into the regular season with Ricky Ray on the mend.  
In one half of play, Harris completed 10 of 12 passes for 98 yards with no TDs or INTs ... View more Stats

Both starting quarterbacks were done for the day after the first half. Harris finished 10 of 12 for 98 yards, no TD or interceptions. Crompton was 5 of 10 for 71 yards with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

The Argonauts went into halftime with a comfortable lead and continued to roll form the opening kickoff of the third frame. Diontae Spencer, out of McNese State, started things off by taking the boot 50 yards, net 65 following a major foul on Giguere. Mitchell Gale entered the game under centre with prime field position, completed a pari of passes, ran for a first down and then finished the drive where it started, in the hands of Spencer who hauled in a 7-yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion from Gale to Lyle McCoombs put the Argos up 30-7.
The news wasn’t all positive for Toronto however, as two plays before the major, fullback/tight end Zander Robinson took a hit from Montreal DB Cliff Coleman and had to be carried off the field as he appeared to favour his knee.
The rest of the quarter finished up without incident but it did see QB Brandon Bridge enter for the Alouettes. The Canadian pivot only completed 4 of 8 passes last week vs. Ottawa but took command of the Montreal offence in his first game of pro ball.

Adrian McPherson closed out the fourth quarter for the Argonauts off only a few days in their camp and making his debut in the only other place he saw regular season action.

Each club finished the pre-season 1-1.
Both teams will take a few days to evaluate before making final cuts on Saturday.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Position battles define pre-season's final weekend

Training camp is nearing its end but for eight CFL teams, the bulk of the work comes this weekend. The final weekend of pre-season marks an end to training camp and a final dress rehearsal, while teams must finalize their rosters and determine their depth charts for the start of the regular season.
With roster spots still up in the air, we look at a couple of the top position battles for each CFL team -- ones you may want to keep in mind when following this weekend's pre-season matchups. 
*Not included are the Ottawa REDBLACKS, who have already played two pre-season games.
BC Lions
While Emmanuel Arceneaux and Marco Iannuzzi appear to have the outside receiver spots locked down, competition for playing time in the slot remains fierce. The Lions have some sneaky good options there but only so many can play.
Courtney Taylor, Shawn Gore and Cameron Morrah are currently penciled in as the starters, but Austin Collie, Bryan Burnham and Terence Jeffers-Harris are fighting hard for playing time. Friday's pre-season game is a chance to make one final statement.
Travis Lulay is the Lions' starting quarterback but his injury history suggests someone else better be ready to play. John Beck has been limited, Jordan Rodgers recently retired while Travis Partridge was released, leaving Jonathon Jennings and Greg McGhee in contention to backup Lulay.
Johnson made a statement with a big performance in the Lions' pre-season loss to Calgary. Depending on how he follows up on Friday he could start the season second on the QB depth chart.
Calgary Stampeders
Kick/Punt Returner
Minus Jock Sanders and plus Tim Brown, the Stamps' return situation is still a little muddled as they look to settle on a returner. Brown and Sederrik Cunningham appear to be the front runners for reps, but Brown will have to earn his roster spot as Hufnagel still plans to evaluate his younger options as well. This battle may come down to Friday's pre-season finale.
Defensive Halfback
The Stampeders are deep across the defensive backfield and one battle to watch will be between veterans Brandon Smith, Jamar Wall and Joe Burnett at the halfback positions. Only two of the three can start and all three have strong career resumes so far. Smith and Wall were the starters in pre-season game one, while newcomer Burnett had a team-high three tackles.
Defensive Line
Quinn Smith is proving to be a capable starter filling in for Corey Mace at defensive tackle, while the battle at left defensive end also looms large where Freddie Bishop, Brandon Boudreaux and DeQuin Evans are all vying for playing time.
Edmonton Eskimos
Mike Reilly is one of the CFL's elite passers, but behind him there's a spot up for grabs. Matt Nichols may be losing his grip on the job after a strong performance by James Franklin in last week's win over the Riders in Fort McMurray. The Esks also appear high on Jordan Lynch while Justin Goltz offers some valuable CFL experience. So much depth at quarterback but the roster must be trimmed down after Friday's pre-season finale.
Running Back
The injury to John White opened up fierce competition at the running back position. Chad Simpson made his mark in last week's pre-season win over the Riders, but 23-year-old Shakir Bell made an impact through the air as well as on the ground. Who will be the Esks' lead back when they open the season in Fort McMurray against the Argos?
Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Who will take over for the departed Delvin Breaux? Arguably the CFL's top cover corner, Breaux took off for the NFL in the off-season leaving a void in the Ticats' secondary. Emmanuel Davis and Ed Gainey are the first two options that come to mind, a battle that may not be settled until the final whistle of Friday's pre-season matchup with the Bombers. 
Regular starters Luke Tasker, Andy Fantuz, Bakari Grant and Brandon Banks are no doubt safe as starting Ticat receivers, but who will fit in elsewhere? Seydou Junior Haidara was acquired from the Lions and is looking to take on a much greater role as a national, while Terrence Toliver and Tiquan Underwood have already made an impact as internationals. Terrell Sinkfield and Quincy McDuffie are also x-factors in the Ticat offence.
Injuries have slowed down the Ticats' regulars so far, but Friday night could be a defining one for those vying for playing time in the Ticats' offence this season.
Montreal Alouettes
Running Back
The Alouettes appear to have four international running backs vying for three spots on the roster and a strong case can be made for each and every one. Brandon Whitaker, Brandon Rutley, Tyrell Sutton and Stefan Logan are not only looking to make the roster but become the lead back in the offence. 
Is Whitaker's job totally safe? Can Rutley beat the odds and make the roster? The battle continues through camp and will culminate with Thursday night's pre-season game vs. the Argos.
Aonther veteran whose job may not be a lock is Sean Whyte, facing stern competition from both Boris Bede and Drew Basil. Whyte has the advantage over both of having a Canadian passport, but while he's been an accurate kicker throughout his career, his leg isn't getting any stronger. Bede has a strong leg and will be one to watch on Thursday night as he looks to earn a job as a CFL place kicker.
Saskatchewan Roughriders
Offensive Line
The departures of Ben Heenan and Dominic Picard left two holes on the Riders' offensive line, particularly at the all-importance centre position. Dan Clark looks to be the favourite to win that job but he's facing competition from Corey Watman, while international tackle Levy Adcock appears to be settling into Heenan's former spot on the right side of the line.
Samuel Hurl, Brian Peters and Shomari Williams are all out at linebacker and while Shea Emry will fill one spot, two other linebacker positions are up for grabs. Macho Harris could play some strong-side linebacker while internationals Telvion Clark and Jeff Knox Jr. are each vying for a chance to start on the other side. Either way, expect some new blood for the Riders this season at linebacker.
Toronto Argonauts
Running Back
With Curtis Steele likely on the shelf for the first bit of the season, the Argos have an opening at tailback. Henry Josey and Lyle McCombs are the two internationals on the roster, while recent draft pick Dillon Campbell could also chip in. Chad Kackert spent time in camp with the Argos and could also be an option, although he's not currently under contract.
Returning Anthony Coombs to his natural position might make the most sense for the Argos, but then they're losing out on a receiver.
Defensive Back
The release of Alex Suber showed the Argos are happy with what they've seen from their young secondary so far this training camp, but the depth chart remains unsettled. The Argos have seven international defensive backs with two or fewer years of CFL experience, all of which are vying for a chance to start in the defensive backfield.
For a team with few proven international receivers, the Argos' receiving corps has come much-hyped this training camp. Tori Gurley's CFL debut was eye-catching while Vidal Hazelton and Kenny Shaw have also earned an extended look at starting positions. Nationals Natey Adjei and rookie Kevin Bradfield will also look to take on an elevated role in the offence with the off-season departure of Mike Bradwell.
Many are competing for spots but few will be catching passes on opening night in Fort McMurray.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Nick Moore, Clarence Denmark and Rory Kohlert will get all the looks inside, but outside there's plenty of competition for reps in the Winnipeg offence. Toney Clemons and Darvin Adams are among those competing for playing time and a chance to catch passes from Drew Willy in the regular season, and it may take Friday's pre-season finale to determine who lines up where. 
The Bombers' linebacker corps looks a lot different with the departure of Ian Wild and Johnny Sears (a defensive back who also played some linebacker), and while free agent acquisition Samuel Hurl will occupy one spot, two starting positions remain up for grabs. Tony Burnett got some reps in the first pre-season game while nationals Garrett Waggoner and Jesse Briggs are also competing for playing time.