Saturday, June 30, 2018

ALS NOTCH FIRST WIN, HOLD ON AGAINST RIDERS

The Montreal Alouettes defence recorded four interceptions to hold off the Saskatchewan Roughriders and secure a 23-17 win.
Najee Murray’s pick off Riders quarterback David Watford in the final moments of the game locked down the first victory of the year for the Als.
Both teams used two quarterbacks in the game for two different reasons. Watford replaced starter Brandon Bridge at halftime for the Riders while Drew Willy left the game for the Als in the third quarter and Jeff Mathews took over duties under centre.
The game started as a defensive battle with neither team managing much on offence in the first half.
On the Als second drive of the game, Willy stepped out of the pocket and found BJ Cunningham deep downfield for a 47 yard gain. In the red zone, the Als had to settle for a field goal to grab the opening 3-0 lead.
The two teams continued to trade possessions with the defences not allowing much progress. A sack by Willie Jefferson on Willy held the Als on offence and they were forced to punt the ball away. Back to back grabs by Naaman Roosevelt and Shaq Evans pushed the Riders past midfield and into scoring territory. Just when it appeared the Riders would find the end zone at the end of the first quarter, Branden Dozier picked off Bridge and returned it 63 yards to put the Als right back in solid starting position.
It didn’t take long for the Riders to get the football back as Jefferson was back at it again, forcing a Willy fumble and it was recovered by Saskatchewan. They could not take advantage however and failed to move the chains.
The defensive battle continued but the Riders offence started clicking with a 16-yard gain by Tre Mason. Brett Lauther knocked a 39-yard field goal to tie the game.
Willy and the Als responded on the next drive with a 79-yard touchdown grab by Chris Williams who used his speed to break away from the defence and found the end zone with 3:25 left in the first half. The pass tied Willy’s mark for the longest pass in his career.
Montreal continued holding the momentum with a Jermaine Robinson interception on Bridge to instantly get the ball back at midfield. A Boris Bede punt pinned the Riders at the one-yard line and the Als got the ball back with less than a minute remaining in the half. Bede added another field goal to take a 13-3 lead into the halftime break.
Watford slotted in under centre for the Riders to start the second half to make his CFL debut and ended his first drive on a two-and-out. On his next possession, Watford connected with Evans on a 35-yard gain before taking off on a 14-yard rush to get another first down. Saskatchewan kicked another field goal to cut the deficit to 13-6.
The Als defence recorded their third interception of the evening as Joe Burnett picked off Watford. Mathews came in for Willy at quarterback, who did not return to the game. Bede booted another field goal to add another three points to the Als lead, 16-6.
Another big gain by Williams, this one for 47 yards, kept the pressure on the Riders defence. The Als added another point on a rouge.
Christion Jones’ 56-yard kick return put the Riders in great position to make a comeback. It didn’t take long for Watford to find Roosevelt in the end zone for the touchdown but the Riders failed to convert on the two-point conversion.
A costly fumble from Tyrell Sutton gave the football back to the Riders who were still searching for their first lead of the game. Lauther added another field goal to cut the Als lead to 17-15.
Back-to-back first downs by Ernest Jackson and Cunningham moved the chains for the Als and Bede notched his fourth field goal of the night to increase the lead to 20-15 with 4:43 remaining.
Another strong return from Stefan Logan kept the foot on the gas pedal for the Als and led to another Als field goal. Murray picked off Watford in the final minute of the game to secure the win for Montreal. The Riders added a safety with one second left but it was not enough.
Before the game, members of the Humboldt Broncos were honoured in front of the Mosaic Stadium crowd.
Next week, the Riders host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats while the Ottawa REDBLACKS visit the Als.

Friday, June 29, 2018

ESKIMOS OVERCOME EARLY DEFICIT, RUNAWAY WITH WIN OVER LIONS

Like an air plane, it was a gradual take-off for Mike Reilly and the Edmonton Eskimos offence. But once they got some wind under their wings, there was nothing the BC Lions could do to slow them down.
Edmonton defeated the BC Lions and improve to 2-1 on the season after a 41-22 decision. The Lions get handed their first loss of the 2018 season.
After only completing two passes in the first quarter, Reilly picked things up as halftime approached and finished the game passing for 326 yards and three touchdowns. All while completing 22 of his 30 pass attempts, good for a 73 completion percentage.
Coming off of their Week 2 Bye, the Lions traveled to Alberta’s capital to take on an Edmonton squad in search of a bounce-back after losing to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week.
The Edmonton Eskimos were certainly hoping for a much different start than the one they put forth in the opening quarter of their game Friday night.
On Edmonton’s first offensive drive, TJ Lee found a Reilly pass attempt falling into his mitts after Eskimos’ Nate Behar was unable to handle a jump ball.
Jonathon Jennings immediately took advantage of the positive field position following the interception by taking a deep shot of his own and drawing a pass interference call in the end zone, setting up a first and short for the Lions offence. Jeremiah Johnson plunged forward for the first touchdown of the game.
The nightmarish start for the Eskimos would continue on the following kick off as BC’s Mitch Barnett forced a fumble on the return. DyShawn Davis recovered the fumble, which resulted in a 14-yard Ty Long field goal to put the Lions ahead 11-0 early in the first quarter.
At the end of the first quarter, Edmonton had only tallied 51 yards of offence. Needless to say, it was a very uncharacteristic quarter of play from the Eskimos that only saw Mike Reilly complete two passes as the Lions held possession for nearly ten minutes.
The offensive struggles would carry over to the second quarter. On a well set up play by the Eskimos, Reilly failed to connect with a wide-open Kenny Stafford who had the potential of taking it the distance.
Ty Long connected on his second field goal of the night on a 39-yard attempt to put the Lions up by 12 halfway through the second quarter.
A challenged-aided drive gave the Eskimos some life nearing the three-minute warning of the second quarter. Reilly connected with Stafford on a crossing route to push Edmonton deep in the Lions end of the field. The drive would conclude with a 14-yard touchdown from Reilly to Natey Adjei.
That was just the start, however.
Reilly and his offence got possession back with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter, piecing together a scoring drive that was capped off by a touchdown pass to Kenny Stafford and a two-point conversion to D’haquille Williams.
Edmonton headed into halftime overcoming a 12-point deficit and leading the Lions 17-14.
In the third quarter, the Eskimos continued to have their offence rolling on the ground as CJ Gable eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the night, as well as scoring a touchdown with 4:42 remaining in the quarter.
Three minutes later, the Eskimos added to their score after Reilly completed a home run pass to Duke Williams for 64-yards, only to re-connect for the two-point convert immediately following.
The third quarter came to a close following a pass attempt that initially fell incomplete. Following a challenge by BC’s head coach Wally Buono, it was determined that there was pass interference, giving the Lions a first and goal situation to open the final quarter.
Cody Fajardo, BC’s short-yardage quarterback, plunged the ball in from 1-yard out to bring the Leos within ten following the point-after.
Tallying his fourth of the season, and tied for the league lead at that, Reilly capped the following Eskimo drive with a 1-yard sneak of his own, further extending Edmonton’s lead to 38-22.
Shawn Whyte capped off the Eskimo scoring for the night, kicking a 24-yard field goal and sealing the victory for Edmonton.
Edmonton will hit the road to Toronto, taking on their second team in a row who will be coming off of a Bye Week. That game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. kick off on Saturday, July 7. As for the Lions, they’ll continue their western road trip against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers following the conclusion of the Edmonton at Toronto game.

TICATS OFFENCE CONTROLS BOMBERS IN HOME OPENER WIN AT THF

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats dominated both sides of the ball for long stretches on Friday night en route to a 31-17 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Tim Hortons Field.
Ticats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli broke the 300-yard passing mark for the eighth-straight game, Hamilton’s defence largely shut down the Chris Streveler-led Bombers offence — at one point forcing six consecutive two-and-outs — and the Tabbies built an important cushion in the second half.
Masoli finished the night with 31 completions for 369 yards, while three of his receivers eclipsed the 80-yard receiving mark; defensively, the Ticats limited Winnipeg for the better part of three quarters before a late Bomber comeback attempt.
The Bombers defence got off to a hot start, as rookie defensive back Marcus Sayles stepped up and intercepted a Jeremiah Masoli pass intended for Terrence Toliver; Sayles then took off and scampered nearly 40 yards down inside the Hamilton 30-yard line.
Four plays later, Winnipeg found the end zone on a plunging one-yard Andrew Harris touchdown dive. Justin Medlock’s convert then opened up a 7-0 lead for the visitors.
Masoli and co. found their offensive rhythm later in the first quarter; the Ticat pivot found Brandon Banks for 37 yards, then running back Sean Thomas-Erlington battered the ball down to the 1-yard line, setting up a short Mercer Timmis touchdown run. Lirim Hajrullahu’s convert tied the ballgame at seven.
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea then went into his bag of tricks with a fake-punt run by Jesse Briggs to extend a drive; three plays later, Medlock drilled a 38-yard field goal to retake the lead for Winnipeg.
That lead did not last long, as Hajrullahu nailed a 50-yard boot on the ensuing drive to draw the Ticats level.
A run by Thomas-Erlington — featuring a ridiculous hurdle over a Winnipeg defender — then set up a 17-yard chip shot of a field goal by Hajrullahu.
Another kick from Hajrullahu, this time from 42 yards out as the second-quarter clock expired, sent the Ticats to the locker room with a 16-10 lead at the half.
Masoli came out firing in the third quarter, completing six straight passes to set up Timmis’s second touchdown plunge of the evening from four yards out; the two-point convert fluttered incomplete, and Hamilton led 22-10.
The Ticats continued to stifle Streveler and the Winnipeg offence, and Masoli was more than happy to seize the opportunity to widen the gap: After a Bomber two-and-out, Hamilton’s offence needed just four plays to find the end zone on a pretty 25-yard Masoli-to-Toliver connection.
Coordinator Jerry Glanville’s Hamilton defence forced six straight Winnipeg two-and-outs.
But, there was more than a bit of life left in the Bombers’ rookie quarterback, as he sprinted his way into the end zone with 10 minutes left to cut the deficit — following Medlock’s convert — to 14 points.
Despite running a strong three-minute drill, Streveler and co. were unable to find the end zone late, sealing their fate.
While Mercer Timmis was the story in the Ticat back field in Week 2, it was Sean Thomas-Erlington who stole the show in black and gold with a dazzling 92-yard performance.
Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill registered a game-high 10 tackles in the defeat; veteran Ticat Simoni Lawrence paced his team with six tackles and also recorded a sack.
Streveler finished the night with a 17-for-28, 146-yard line; the 23-year-old did not throw a touchdown or interception in the defeat.
With the win, the Tiger-Cats improved to 2-1 on the young season; June Jones’s team will now travel to Saskatchewan for a date with the Roughriders (1-1) in Week 4’s Thursday Night Football matchup (9 p.m. ET).
The loss dropped the Bombers to 1-2; Mike O’Shea’s group will return home in Week 4 for a date with the BC Lions next Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET).

STAYING PERFECT: STAMPS PULL AWAY IN FOURTH TO TAKE DOWN REDBLACKS

Defensive lineman Ja’Gared Davis led the way with six tackles and a sack while Bo Levi Mitchell threw for two touchdowns, as the Stampeders moved to 3-0 with a convincing 24-14 victory over the REDBLACKS on Thursday night.
Defence was the name of the game early, with both offences struggling to find a rhythm in the first quarter.
RB William Powell gave the REDBLACKS offence a boost late in the first quarter, ripping off three consecutive first-down runs to put his team deep into Stampeders territory. K Lewis Ward converted on his first field goal attempt of the night, giving Ottawa an early 3-0 lead.
Stamps’ QB Bo Levi Mitchell, who so effortlessly picked apart the Toronto Argonauts’ defence in week 2, couldn’t find the same success early on Thursday, as the REDBLACKS defence gave him and the Calgary offence no room to breathe.
Meanwhile Powell continued to find success against the typically stingy Stampeders defence, juking his way to another big gain on the REDBLACKS’ first possession of the second quarter. Once again however, the Stamps defence stood tall when it mattered, forcing another Ward field goal. Entering Thursday night’s game, the Stamps D had allowed just two touchdowns on 30 possessions to begin the 2018 season.
After starting the game with five consecutive punts, Calgary’s offence was given a gift by their defence midway through the second quarter, A tipped Trevor Harris pass ended up in the arms of LB Micah Johnson deep in REDBLACKS territory, giving Mitchell and the Stamps prime field position.
It didn’t take long for Mitchell to find his favourite target, WR Eric Rogers, who scored his league-leading third receiving touchdown of the season on a short underneath route. K Rene Parades’ convert attempt was good and the Stamps took their first lead of the game with time winding down in the first half.
The interception by Johnson seemed to wake up the Stamps offence, as Mitchell continued to find success on Calgary’s next possession, tearing off chunks of yards with completions to Rogers and Juwan Brescacin. Mitchell was just centimeters away from doubling his money with another touchdown pass to CFL rushing leader Don Jackson, but the ball tumbled through his outstretched hands and a promising drive for Calgary ended without points.
The Stamps headed to halftime with a narrow 7-6 lead over the visiting REDBLACKS, as both defences were able to shut down the typically potent offences.
REDBLACKS DB Rico Murray made his mark on the game early in the third quarter, tracking down a late pass from Mitchell and nabbing his second interception of the 2018 season, while ending a dangerous Stampeders drive.
A punt single from Ottawa P Richie Leone tied the game at 7 midway through the third quarter.
Once again Mitchell had Jackson streaking down the sideline and Calgary looked to have six points in the books, but Jackson bobbled the pass and the Stampeders settled for a field goal from Parades, taking a 10-7 lead.
After struggling for much of the second half, the REDBLACKS seemed to flip a switch on their next possession, as Harris found SB Greg Ellingson deep down the middle for a 56-yard completion. With a first down inside the 10, it looked certain that the REDBLACKS would at least tie the game, but after moving to the 1 yard line on second down, the Stamps defensive line stood tall and stuffed the sneak attempt.
That defensive stop may have been the turning point, as the Stampeders quickly got to work on offense, and Mitchell tossed his second major of the game, finding WR Kamar Jorden deep down the middle for a 32-yard score.
After the kickoff, the Stamps’ defence made another big play, knocking the ball loose from SB Brad Sinopoli and handing the keys right back to Bo. This time it was Jackson’s turn to score, as he notched his second touchdown of the season.
The REDBLACKS swapped Harris for Dominique Davis late in the fourth and he quickly made his mark on the game, finding Ellingson in the end zone to cut into the Stamps lead. But it was too little too late, and the Stampeders marched away with the victory.
Next week the REDBLACKS will travel to Montreal to take on the Alouettes while the Stampeders head into the bye week before heading to the nation’s capital in week 5 for a rematch with Ottawa.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

MITCHELL LEADS STAMPS PAST ARGOS IN GREY CUP REMATCH

Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders put together a solid performance in their Grey Cup rematch against the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday night, as the quarterback threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns to spoil the Argos’ home opener with a 41-7 victory.
Receiver Eric Rogers led the way for Calgary with five catches for 131 yards and two scores, while rookie running back Don Jackson added balance to the offence with 123 rushing yards on just nine carries.
Toronto was without Ricky Ray for much of the second half after the quarterback left with an injury in the third quarter, and Calgary’s defence found a way to contain the Argos’ offence all game long.
The Stampeders got the ball first on offence and came out looking strong right away, going 46 yards in nine plays to open the scoring. Jackson sliced through the Argos’ defence for a nine-yard gain before Mitchell found receiver Juwan Brescacin to set up a 42-yard field goal from Rene Paredes.
The Stamps’ defence quickly got the ball back, and Mitchell continued right where he left off, engineering an impressive 70-yard drive in just two plays. Receiver Reggie Begelton made one of the most impressive catches of the evening, stretching out to make a diving 31-yard catch, and Mitchell finished off the drive by finding receiver DaVaris Daniels in one-on-one coverage for a 39-yard touchdown. Paredes added the extra point to give Calgary a 10-0 lead.
Calgary’s defence stifled every attempt the Argos made to get rolling early on, preventing Ray from finding any space or time to make a throw. Toronto’s defence also faced difficulty of their own when defensive back Matt Black left the game in the first quarter with an injury.
The Stamps’ momentum was briefly stopped near the end of the first quarter when Argos defensive lineman Frank Beltre stripped the ball from Mitchell. The Calgary quarterback attempted to evade pressure and gain yardage on the ground when the ball was knocked loose, and defensive back Ronnie Yell quickly scooped up the ball and took off into open field for a 77-yard return. Receiver Kamar Jorden gave everything he had to catch up to Yell and drag him down before he could score.
Calgary’s defence stepped up and prevented Toronto from capitalizing on the turnover, and the Argos’ walked away without a point after their field goal attempt was stymied due to a mishandled snap.
Calgary kept things going on offence upon getting the ball back, and Mitchell continued to connect with his receivers every time he dropped back to pass. The veteran passer once again had no problem picking up big chunks of yardage through the air, finding Rogers for a 38-yard gain and an 18-yard touchdown strike to help Calgary grab a 17-0 lead.
The Argos appeared to be getting things going on offence when running James Wilder Jr. fought his way for a tough 14-yard gain, but the Stamps’ defensive front stood strong to stall the Toronto drive. After knocking on the doorstep for the second time in the half, the Argos’ offence couldn’t find an answer, and a 28-yard field goal attempt from Ronnie Pfeffer went wide and out of bounds to give the Double Blue a single point.
Calgary extended their lead again near the end of the half when Mitchell led a 65-yard drive that put Paredes in position for an 18-yard field goal, giving Calgary a 20-1 lead heading into the third quarter.
The start of the second half saw Calgary’s passing attack continue to roll, and Mitchell quickly put together another long scoring drive by taking the Stamps’ offence 61 yards down the field in just four plays. Rogers came up big once again on the drive, reeling in a 59-yard pass down the left side of the field. The 27-year-old receiver extended up as far as he could to catch the ball at its highest point, and he found the end zone just two plays later with a 10-yard touchdown grab.
Calgary continued to make things happen after getting the ball back on their next drive, and Jackson broke free for his longest run of the night, a 70-yard gallop into the open field that put Calgary back in scoring position. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle finished off the drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak for the score, helping Calgary take a 34-1 lead.
Toronto was dealt a major injury blow near the end of the third quarter when Ray was forced from the game with an injury. The veteran passer took a hit from defensive lineman Cordarro Law while being sacked by defensive lineman Ja’Gared Davis, and he had to be carted off the field on a stretcher. James Franklin took over under centre for the remainder of the game and finished with eight completions for 65 yards.
Calgary’s special teams briefly stole the show when Terry Williams took a punt and returned it an incredible 102 yards for the touchdown. Paredes added the extra point to extend the Stamps’ lead to 40 points entering the fourth quarter.
Franklin led the Argos to their first touchdown drive after that, capping off a 66-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run that injected energy into the home crowd. But it was too little too late as Calgary secured their second win of the season.
Week 3 will see the Stamps host the REDBLACKS on Thursday night, while the Argos will be off until they host the Eskimos in Week 4.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

MASOLI, TASKER LEAD TICATS TO ROAD WIN OVER ESKS

The Edmonton Eskimos had no answer for Jeremiah Masoli and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ offence on Friday night, as the versatile quarterback led his team to an impressive 38-21 victory on the road.
Masoli threw for over 300 yards for the second straight week, finishing with 19 completions for 332 yards and three touchdown passes. The dual-threat playmaker also added seven carries for 59 rushing yards, and receiver Luke Tasker contributed a big performance by hauling in five catches for 103 yards and two key touchdown scores.
Hamilton running back Mercer Timmis had a breakout performance on the ground, racking up 133 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. And Brandon Banks had a big game of his own with six grabs for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback Mike Reilly and the Esks’ offence managed to put together some big plays, including an 88-yard touchdown pass, but it was not enough in the end to keep pace with the Ticats.
The Ticats came out strong to start the game, with Masoli quickly engineering Hamilton’s first touchdown drive of the season. The 29-year-old quarterback found receiver Terrence Toliver for 27 yards right out of the gate. Toliver made his return the Ticats after missing most of the 2017 season with an injury. Masoli finished the drive by hooking up with Tasker for a 15-yard catch-and-run touchdown to help give Hamilton the opening lead.
But Reilly and the Eskimos’ offence wasted no time in responding, and the veteran gunslinger brought his team down the field just a couple plays later. Reilly demonstrated his ability to connect on the deep ball, finding a streaking D’haquille “Duke” Williams deep down the field for an 88-yard touchdown, swinging momentum in Edmonton’s favour. Williams finished the game with 105 yards receiving.
The Ticats kept things rolling on offence upon getting the ball back, and Masoli showed how dangerous he can be as both a rusher and a passer. Masoli led his team down the field with a 31-yard pass to receiver Brandon Banks and a 20-yard sprint up the middle to put the Ticats in scoring position. Hamilton elected to go for it after facing a third down on the drive, and Masoli pitched the ball to Timmis on the option play to set Hamilton up at the goal line.
Timmis finished off the drive on the very next play, barrelling his way into the end zone with power and quickness for the one-yard touchdown run. Kicker Lirim Hajhrullahu knocked the extra point through to give the Ticats a 14-7 lead.
Aside from the touchdown pass to Williams, Reilly was largely held in check by the Ticats’ defence early on in this one. Edmonton managed to add a single near the start of the second quarter, but Hamilton’s offence quickly took advantage of the opportunity provided by their defence’s strong effort.
Masoli continued to find his rhythm against the Esks’ secondary, leading his team down the field once again with impressive efficiency and accuracy. Masoli threw solid strikes to Banks and Toliver to move the chains before finishing the drive with a 45-yard touchdown connection to Tasker. The 27-year-old receiver found running room up the left side of the field as he racked up 37 yards after the catch, and Banks contributed a key block to secure the score and help give Hamilton a 13-point lead.
The Ticats would add a 44-yard field goal from Hajhrullahu on their next drive to extend their lead again, but Reilly and the Esks’ offence began to get things moving after that. Reilly showed once again how dangerous he can be with the deep ball as he threw an impressive 55-yard bomb to receiver Kenny Stafford to put Edmonton in scoring position.
Reilly followed the big play up by finding playmaker Derel Walker in the end zone for a five-yard score, giving Walker his second touchdown catch of the season. The Esks went for the two-point convert on the ensuing play, but running back C.J. Gable was stopped at the goal line, making the score 24-14 at the half.
Both quarterbacks finished the opening half with over 200 yards and two scores through the air.
Hamilton maintained momentum to start the third quarter, and Masoli showed no signs of slowing down. Stepping up and finding a way to make big throws under pressure, Masoli connected with multiple receivers on the drive before capping it off with a beautiful 18-yard touchdown pass to Banks. Masoli threw the passing score after somehow managing to juke away from an Edmonton pass rusher at the last second, giving Hamilton a 31-14 lead after the extra point from Hajhrullahu.
But the Eskimos found a momentum spark of their own shortly after when linebacker Blair Smith picked off a Masoli throw, giving the Esks some life in the fourth quarter.
Edmonton began to mount a late comeback after Hamilton defensive back Jumal Rolle was called for defensive pass interference while covering Stafford down the field. Reilly capitalized on the field position with a one-yard rushing touchdown, making it a 10-point game with under five minutes to play.
It was Timmis who had the final say in this one, however, as the running back accelerated into open field for a 44-yard touchdown gallop, sealing the 38-21 Hamilton victory. An interception from Hamilton’s Richard Leonard ended the Eskimos’ final attempt to stage a comeback.
The Eskimos will look to get back on track when they host the BC Lions next Friday, while The Ticats will be at home against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Saturday in Week 3 action.

Friday, June 22, 2018

BOMBERS DOMINATE ALL PHASES, CRUSH ALOUETTES 56-10

Any questions surrounding rookie quarterback Chris Streveler‘s ability to lead the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were answered on Friday night, as the 23-year-old pivot threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in a dominant 56-10 win over the Montreal Alouettes.
Streveler’s gaudy half-time numbers told one part of Friday’s contest: 18 completions on 22 attempts, 196 pass yards, two touchdowns. With 55 rush yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The other story of Friday’s one-sided game at Percival Molson Stadium?
Tristan Okpalaugo with two of Winnipeg’s three first-half sacks, as part of a larger effort by the Bomber defence to limit Montreal to just 95 yards of offence in the first half.
In other words: At 34-7 after 30 minutes of football, the front end of Friday Night Football’s doubleheader was decided.
The Bombers opened the scoring on the first drive of the evening, as a Streveler-led drive set up a 13-yard Justin Medlock chip-shot field goal.
Okpalaugo and the Winnipeg defence then set the tone on Montreal’s first offensive snap of the ballgame, as the 28-year-old brought down Als quarterback Drew Willy for a loss of eight yards.
Paul LaPolice’s Bomber offence then mixed it up on its next possession, with Streveler lateraling across to Darvin Adams to set up a flea-flicker pass to Andrew Harris in the end zone. Medlock’s convert gave Winnipeg a 10-0 lead.
The Bomber defence then got to Willy again, as Drake Nevis levelled the Montreal pivot with a crunching sack.
Montreal showed some life early in the second quarter, as a powerful 44-yard Tyrell Sutton run set up a Willy-to-B.J. Cunningham touchdown connection. Boris Bede‘s convert cut the hosts’ deficit to just three points.
Winnipeg’s offence roared in response, with a number of Streveler completions setting up a 10-yard touchdown pass to Nic Demski; Medlock’s convert gave the Bombers a 17-7 lead.
Things began to unravel for the Alouettes later in the second quarter; the strong field position earned by a Stefan Logan kick return was negated by a monster sack from Okpalaugo — his second of the night — on Willy.
After that two-and-out, Streveler marched the Bombers back inside the red zone and proceeded to find his former college roommate Drew Wolitarsky in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown. Medlock’s convert extended the Bombers’ lead to 17 points.
The second quarter went from bad to worse for the Alouettes on the ensuing drive.
A Willy pass was intercepted by Okpalaugo, only to be brought back on an offside penalty against the latter; Winnipeg defensive back Anthony Gaitor then sacked Willy heavily on the next play for a loss of 12 yards; Boris Bede’s subsequent third-down punt was blocked by Rashaun Simonise and recovered by the Bombers inside Montreal’s 5-yard line.
Two plays later, Streveler punched it in from the goal line himself; the following Medlock convert and a final-play field goal from 40 yards out sent Winnipeg to the locker room with a 34-7 lead.
Medlock and Bede traded third-quarter field goals, and a further Medlock boot from 33 yards out pushed the lead to 40-10.
Two second-half hits from the Alouettes — Jermaine Robinson‘s low tackle on Harris, and then Henoc Muamba with a high tackle on Streveler — resulted in tempers flaring, and when Streveler found Wolitarsky in the fourth quarter for the duo’s second touchdown of the night, emotions ran high. Medlock’s convert made it a 47-10 ballgame.
Montreal’s offence continued to struggle, and Bede conceded a safety.
Winnipeg, meanwhile, continued to show off its quarterback depth; Bryan Bennett relieved Streveler — who started in place of injured regular Matt Nichols — in fashion with three completions for 71 yards and an electrifying 31-yard run.
Bennett’s debut drive culminated in Kienan LaFrance’s first rush touchdown as a Bomber; Medlock’s convert rounded out the scoring on the night and brought the score to 56-10.
Chris Streveler’s final line read 22 of 28 passes completed for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
Montreal linebacker Henoc Muamba registered a game-high 11 tackles in the defeat; nine different players hauled in a catch for Winnipeg.
With the win, the Bombers improved to 1-1 on the young season and now face a Week-3 trip to Tim Horton’s Field to face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday Night Football (7 p.m. ET).
The loss dropped the Alouettes to 0-2 on the campaign; Mike Sherman’s team will head west in Week 3 for a date with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday evening (9 p.m. ET).

REDBLACKS DOWN RIDERS, 40-17, ON THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

The Ottawa REDBLACKS shone on both sides of the football en route to a 40-17 win over the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday Night Football at TD Place.
Trevor Harris threw for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns, William Powell found the end zone twice and Diontae Spencer showcased his dynamic ability in the win for Rick Campbell’s team, which was bolstered by a monstrous performance by its defence at-large.
On the flip side, the Riders lost starting quarterback Zach Collaros in the second quarter and managed just 345 yards of offence — 41 of which came in garbage time — on the night. Four turnovers proved costly for Saskatchewan, which never seemed to find its groove on either side of the football.
The REDBLACKS opened the scoring on the first drive of the night, when a handful of pretty Trevor Harris completions and an offside penalty set up a 26-yard field goal for Ottawa kicker Lewis Ward.
Zach Collaros and the Riders offence struggled on their first two possessions, with a pair of two-and-outs highlighted by a monster sack by Ottawa’s Michael Wakefield.
A second field goal from Ward — another chip shot from 23 yards out — then doubled the REDBLACKS lead.
The visitors woke up offensively late in the first quarter, as Collaros capped a five-play, 62-yard drive with a pinpoint 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Williams-Lambert — the latter’s first in the CFL. Saskatchewan kicker Brett Lauther drilled the convert, and the Riders led 7-6 after the opening 15 minutes.
The lead was short-lived, as Collaros’s first pass of the second quarter was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Ottawa’s Jonathan Rose; the pass was intended for Shaq Evans, but Rose jumped the route and returned it 55 yards to the house. Harris then found Greg Ellingson in the corner of the end zone for the two-point convert, giving the REDBLACKS a 14-7 lead.
Collaros responded with a 46-yard bomb to Caleb Holley, taking the Riders into the red zone. Two plays later, however, Ottawa forced an end zone interception as Corey Tindal deflected an end zone pass into the hands of teammate Loucheiz Purifoy.
Two plays later, however, Harris threw a pick-six of his own; enigmatic two-way Rider Duron Carter — exclusively playing defensive back on Thursday night — stepped up, snatched Harris’s pass and returned it 28 yards for a major before his trademark celebration in the end zone. Lauther hit the extra point to tie the game at 14.
The ridiculous back-and-forth play continued on the next drive, as the REDBLACKS marched down the field to set up a dashing 15-yard touchdown run by William Powell. Harris then found Ellingson for yet another two-point convert, and the hosts took a 22-14 lead.
Ward’s third field goal of the evening with 1:28 remaining in the first half sent Ottawa to the locker room with an 11-point lead, and it could have been more as the University of Ottawa product sent a 48-yard effort wide right as the clock expired.
After a two and a half quarters’ worth of chirping, REDBLACKS receiver Diontae Spencer got the best of Carter in their one-on-one matchup midway through the third quarter; Harris chucked up a bomb and Spencer sprinted past Carter on his way to a 56-yard touchdown. The Ottawa quarterback then sprinted the two-point convert in himself to extend the lead to 33-14.
The host defence continued to impress late in the third quarter, as Rico Murray hauled in his first interception as a REDBLACK with an athletic pick of Bridge in the Ottawa end zone.
A 35-yard field goal from Lauther cut the lead to 33-17, but it was as close as the Riders would come.
A handful of Duron Carter pass-interference penalties then gave the REDBLACKS a chance from short range, and Harris and co. did not miss; Powell proved the benefactor as he hauled in a four-yard touchdown reception. Ward’s convert then rounded out the scoring on the night, bringing the lead to 40-17.
The story of the night proved to be Ottawa’s defence, which limited Saskatchewan on offence and came up with four key turnovers — including two interceptions in their own end zone.
REDBLACKS receiver Greg Ellingson hauled in a game-high 104 yards, while Riders linebacker Samuel Eguavoen registered a game-high seven tackles in the losing effort.
With the win, the REDBLACKS moved to 1-0 and will now face the daunting task of travelling across the country for a date with the Calgary Stampeders (1-0) on the Week 3 edition of Thursday Night Football (9 p.m. ET).
The loss dropped the Roughriders to 1-1 on the young season; Chris Jones’s team will now have eight days off to prepare for a home date with the Montreal Alouettes (0-1) next Saturday (9 p.m. ET).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Belgium prevail over gritty Panama

The first-half proceedings did not come as a major surprise, as Panama stuck together and worked for each other in building a wall that Belgium’s talented individuals were unable to breach. Though lacking imagination, Les Diables Rouges still created the clearest chances, with Panama captain Roman Torres working wonders to put a dangerous cross from Kevin De Bruyne out for a corner with 22 minutes gone.
Frustrated and empty-handed at the break, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens returned reinvigorated, not least the Napoli man, who had the Belgium fans cheering when he fired a sumptuous volley past Jaime Penedo just two minutes into the second half. Having finally taken the lead, the men in red found their rhythm and the space in which to express themselves, with Lukaku getting in on the act. After opening his account with a header from a superb De Bruyne cross, he coolly clipped the ball home following a penetrating Hazard run. At last Belgium could breathe easy, their World Cup campaign safely under way. As for Panama, they will need to up their game when they take on England and Tunisia.

Belgium’s individual strengths made up for their failings at a collective level, as they took control of a match without ever producing their best football. That said, winning when not at your best is an attribute that every great side possesses.

It was a match of two halves for Panama. After a promising opening 45 minutes, their man-to-man marking let them down in the second half, with Belgium taking full advantage to pick up the three points. Panama’s lack of precision ultimately cost them dear.

Romelu Lukaku’s exemplary finishing made Belgium’s victory look more emphatic than it actually was. The striker’s prowess in front of goal made all the difference, as he became the first Belgian to score a World Cup brace since Marc Wilmots achieved the feat against Mexico at France 1998.

Belgium’s last victory by two goals or more at the world finals was a 3-1 defeat of Uruguay at Italy 1990. Les Diables Rouges do not have a history of winning big in the competition, but after recording some impressive scorelines in the qualifiers they kept their momentum going against the Panamanians.

What’s next
Belgium-Tunisia, Group G, 23 June, Moscow
England-Panama, Group G, 24 June, Nizhny Novgorod

Sweden win on return to global stage

Following an absence of 12 long years, Sweden marked their return to the FIFA World Cup in style in the opening match of Group F. The desire of Janne Andersson’s charges was there for all to see as they emerged victorious over a disappointing Korea Republic.
The Swedes were rewarded for an enterprising performance in which they created a series of goal-scoring chances. As much due to their own profligacy as to the opposition back-line, the hoards of Scandinavian fans in Nizhny Novgorod were made to wait until the second half before the deadlock was broken.
The Taeguk Warriors conceded a penalty in the 65th minute following confirmation by VAR, and Swedish captain Andreas Granqvist shouldered the responsibility, coolly converting the resulting spot kick.
Korea Republic pushed hard to find a way back into the game, but to no avail. Their disappointing series of results at the World Cup continues: they have now gone six matches without a win, a run that dates back to their victory over Greece in 2010.

Creating goal-scoring chances had been the main concerns surrounding the Swedish team ahead of this game. Carving out opportunities would not prove to be the problem, as the players were clearly eager to prove their critics wrong, but the ball did not want to go in, and in the end it took a penalty kick to secure the three points. A strong start for Sweden showed that they prepared well for their return to the global stage.

A deserved defeat for Korea Republic, who were second best in all aspects of the game. They failed to create any clear opportunities, their defending was sloppy and their passing game lacked fluency. The team may be disappointed, but now the players need to regroup and prepare for the next game.

Captain Andreas Granqvist marshalled the Swedish backline throughout the game, initiated countless attacks and took charge of scoring the penalty that gave his side victory.

Sweden had built up something of a reputation for starting World Cups slowly over the past 60 years. They had not recorded victory in their opening game since a 3-0 win over Mexico in 1958, the tournament at which they would ultimately finish runners-up.

What’s next
Germany v Sweden, Group F, 23 June, Sochi
Korea Republic v Mexico, Group F, 23 June, Rostov-on-Don

Sunday, June 17, 2018

World Cup Recap For June 17, 2018


Stubborn Swiss stifle Brazil

Brazil looked all set to party at one stage but ended up trapped in Switzerland’s intricate defensive web, with a 1-1 draw a fair result as the two sides made their Group E debuts at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Having dominated possession but without creating clear-cut chances, the tournament favourites took the lead after 20 minutes thanks to the kind of strike Philippe Coutinho has become known for: a spectacular curling drive from outside the box that curled right into the far corner of Yann Sommer’s net.
It looked as if the Rostov night would have a samba beat, but the Swiss had other ideas. Maintaining their intensity, they conjured up an equalizer just after the restart, with Steven Zuber nodding home from inside the six-yard box. The five-time world champions promptly lost their poise, and though they created some late chances, both their finishing and their play was slightly off key.

Brazil were unable to impose their style against very physical opponents. Neymar and his team-mates endured a tough evening and despite Coutinho’s early strike it was not until the end of the game that their best chances came. That said, A Seleção never expected it to be an easy night.

Switzerland’s fast start to the second half took everyone by surprise and got them back into the game following Brazil’s impressive first-half display. Their continuous pressing prevented the South Americans from finding their rhythm again, and their showing after the restart will have the Swiss fans hoping there is more to come.

Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s brightest spark on what was a challenging evening for his side. His sumptuous strike is sure to figure among the goals of the tournament.

Valon Behrami is the first Switzerland player in history to appear at four World Cups: Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and now Russia 2018. Kiki Antenen’s record of eight appearances in world finals matches was also equalled tonight, though not by Behrami. Stephan Lichtsteiner was the man pulling level with that mark.

What’s next
Brazil-Costa Rica, Group E, 22 June, Saint Petersburg
Serbia-Switzerland, Group E, 22 June, Kaliningrad

Lozano lights up the Luzhniki as El Tri defeat holders

Mexico pulled off a historic victory in the opening game of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group F, defeating World Cup holders Germany 1-0 in front of a fervent - and full - Luzhniki Stadium. 
Juan Carlos Osorio's masterplan worked to perfection, with El Tri soaking up the long spells of German possession and hitting Die Nationalmannschaft on the counter-attack. Hirving Lozano's strike was a result of a swift break, with green shirts swarming forwards and the PSV Eindhoven man coolly converting past Manuel Neuer.
Joachim Low's side played their part in an enthralling encounter, with Toni Kroos hitting a free kick against the crossbar. Their efforts were ultimately in vain, with the Mexicans claiming all three points.

Amazing – Germany are now the third holders in a row to fail to win their opening match at the following World Cup. Even more worrying: Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014 both went out after the group stage and the four-time champions surely have their work cut out for them if they want to avoid a similar fate. Not much worked as they had hoped for and changes will certainly be needed for Joachim Low in the next game.

Mexico came to the match with a plan and stuck to it to perfection. The team learned from their mistakes of the Confederations Cup and designed a system that would prevent the Germans playing their usual passing game and take advantage of the spaces at the back. The last minutes were tense but Mexico rarely allowed clear chances. It was a deserved victory against the world champions.

Hirving Lozano not only scored the winner, but played a key role in El Tri claiming all three points. He pressed and harried the German defence, not giving them a moment's rest until his substitution after 66 minutes.

This defeat represents the first time that Germany have lost the opening game in defence of their Trophy. They beat Argentina 3-1 in 1958, drew 0-0 with Poland in 1978, and defeated Bolivia 1-0 in 1994

What’s next?
Germany-Sweden – Group F, 23 June, Sochi
Korea Republic-Mexico – Group F, 23 June, Rostov-on-Don