Saturday, June 9, 2018

CFL Preseason Recap Week 3


30-STRAIGHT POINTS LEAD TICATS TO ROAD VICTORY OVER ALS

The Hamilton Ticats used a second half surge to win their final preseason game on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Montreal Alouettes 30 to 15 at Molson Stadium. After giving up 14 straight points to start the game, the Ticats went on a 30-point run of their own to earn the road victory.
The points came early for the home team, with Boris Bede hitting a field goal three minutes in to open the scoring. Their defence was equally as stout, not allowing a Tiger-Cats first down until midway through the second quarter.
Seven minutes after Bede’s field goal, Tyrell Sutton scored on a 10-yard run to put the Als up by 10. By the end of the quarter, Montreal’s lead was extended to 13 off the foot of Bede.
The Ticats awoke in the second quarter, largely thanks to the appearance of quarterback Johnny Manziel, who came in to replace starter Bryant Moniz. The 29-year old Moniz finished the game 3 for 7 for 17 yards, an interception, and zero passing first downs.
Immediately after entering the game (and helped by a Stefan Logan punt return fumble), the Texan marched the team downfield, connecting twice with running back Alex Green and tossing his first career CFL touchdown pass to get the Ticats on the board. Manziel also drew a roughing penalty during the drive.
Willy, who’s expected to be Montreal’s opening night starting quarterback, came out for the third quarter before Garrett Fugate took over. Willy ended the afternoon 10 for 18 with no interceptions. For the second straight preseason game, he failed to throw a touchdown pass. Fugate, a 24-year old out of Central Missouri State making his first CFL appearance, finished 3 for 6 with no touchdowns. Willy and Fugate combined for just four passing first downs in the game’s final three quarters.
Manziel looked effective in the second half, scrambling to his left and finding receiver Bryce Wilkerson for 13 yards in his first play of the third quarter. Five plays later, Ticats kicker Lirim Hajrullahu kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut the deficit to four.
Hamilton was helped out by a strong defensive effort in the second half, constantly getting in the face of Als quarterback Garrett Fugate after he entered the game.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, a Fugate pass was intercepted by Ticats defensive back Joel Ross, who ran it back 38 yards for the touchdown to give the Ticats their first lead of the afternoon.
Manziel came out of the game midway through the fourth quarter. His afternoon ended with 12 completions, 88 passing yards, and a touchdown pass. He was replaced by 24-year old Tulsa product Dane Evans, who completed his first two career CFL passes, including a 47-yard strike to receiver Justin Buren to bring the ball to the Als’ one-yard line. Tiger-Cats running back Sean Thomas-Erlington, a Montreal native, ran it in to the end zone the next play to give Hamilton a 30-14 lead.
Montreal ends its preseason with no wins and no touchdown passes. They open the regular season in BC on Saturday. The Als then host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their home opener.
Meanwhile for Hamilton, it’s a trip to Alberta to kick off the campaign. They open the season on Saturday in Calgary versus the Stampeders before facing the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium the following week.

DEFENSIVE TDS PROPEL LIONS TO WIN OVER BLUE BOMBERS

Jonathon Jennings tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Burnham midway through the third quarter and  the BC Lions got two touchdowns from their defence en route to a 34 -21 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night at BC Place.
Defensive lineman Odell Willis made a perfect first impression in his first home game as a Lion, taking a fumble to the house in the game’s opening series to give the home team an early lead. Winnipeg’s Felix Menard-Briere then cut the lead in half with a field goal, with Lions kicker Ty Long responding with three points of his own.
Prior to halftime, Bombers wide receiver Reuben Randle took advantage of a man-to-man match-up and caught a 58-yard jump ball touchdown pass from Bryan Bennett to cut Winnipeg’s deficit to one.
Jennings and the rest of the Lions’ first-team offence started the third quarter, scoring midway through on Burnham’s first catch of the game. 55 seconds later, Lions defensive back Otha Foster picked off a Chris Streveler pass, taking it 62 yards for the touchdown. The Lions added a one-yard run by backup quarterback Ricky Lloyd to extend their lead to 19.
The Bombers got a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, a 32-yard score by Kenbrell Thompkins from Streveler.
With incumbent starter Matt Nichols out several weeks with a knee injury, the Bombers entered tonight’s game with major question marks at quarterback. They used four signal-callers on the evening, with starter Alex Ross going 10 for 13 versus his former team, while Streveler was 3 for 9 with an interception. The Bombers’ run game was ineffective, accumulating just 57 combined yards on the evening.
On the other side of the field, the Lions’ first-team offence looked sharp in its three quarters of action. Jennings was crisp and methodical with the ball, completing 17 of 24 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. Backup Ricky Lloyd went 7 for 11, scoring a rushing touchdown.
Across the board, the Lions out-gained their West Division rivals. BC had 22 first downs to Winnipeg’s 13, including 12 in the air. Winnipeg’s four quarterbacks combined for just five passing first downs on the evening.
Neither team was particularly disciplined, with both teams combining for 21 penalties and 241 lost yards. The Lions had two long punt returns by running back Chris Rainey called back thanks to holding calls.
Veteran Lions receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux led all receivers with six receptions for 72 yards, while Randle paced the Blue Bombers with 63 receiving yards.
Next up for the Blue Bombers is a regular season clash with the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday, while the Lions host Montreal next Saturday in their home opener.

CONNECT FOUR: STAMPS’ AIR RAID TOO MUCH FOR RIDERS

 Four different quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass for the Calgary Stampeders and Terry Williams took a punt the distance, orchestrating a 39-12 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in pre-season action Friday night at Mosaic Stadium.
Zach Collaros got the start and struggled in his Riders debut, going 6-for-16 for 41 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter, while Brandon Bridge didn’t fare much better as the Green and White failed to make the most of the final dress rehearsal before the regular season.
Collaros was slow to leave the field after taking a sack in the third quarter, but remained on the Riders’ sideline while David Watford took over. Watford had a game-high 172 passing yards, completing nine of 17 passes with a touchdown and an interceptions as the Riders went off script and played four different quarterbacks.
For the visiting Stampeders, meanwhile, nothing could go wrong, as Bo Levi Mitchell, Larry Brihm, Nick Arbuckle and Ricky Stanzi each threw a touchdown pass, while rookie receiver Nick Truesdell had a pair of touchdowns. Receiver Kamar Jorden was in mid-season form, racking up a game-high 62 receiving yards in the one-sided win.
The Stamps have a decision to make when it comes to their second-string quarterback, while Dave Dickenson said after the game he’ll likely only keep three quarterbacks, meaning one will be on his way out.
Arbuckle was second off the bench and made a strong case to win the No. 2 quarterback job in Calgary, completing eight of 14 attempts for 89 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell played roughly a quarter for the Stamps, completing four of eight passes for 59 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown to Jorden.
Stanzi’s 28-yard touchdown pass to 2018 draft pick and former linebacker Boston Rowe put the game out of reach, extending Calgary’s lead to 30 points in the fourth quarter and sending the Riders’ home crowd to the doors.
After a slow start, lightning finally struck late in the first quarter when Williams eluded the Riders’ punt coverage team, sprinting to an 86-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
Rene Paredes’ extra point missed and Tyler Crapigna hit a wobbly 51-yarder to make it 6-3, but the opening quarter was defined by the struggles of Collaros, who missed a couple of receivers and could have been intercepted at least twice.
After planning to start Bridge for the second quarter, Chris Jones had a change of heart, trotting Collaros out for another drive. But it was more of the same for the Riders’ new quarterback — a two-and-out with two more incompletions, forcing the Riders to punt yet again.
By the time Collaros exited, he was 4-for-12 for 26 yards, and onto the field ran Bridge. But the Riders’ offence still couldn’t find its bearing, with Bridge being sacked on his first drop-back before misfiring on second down.
In the meantime, with Mitchell just about to finish up his first-half duties, the Stamps’ quarterback finally hit paydirt on the deep ball, finding Jorden in the end zone for a 40-yard hookup to make it 13-3 Calgary — a rare strike of lightning in an otherwise defensive game early on.
Arbuckle came into the game in the second quarter for the Stamps and wasted no time moving the offence. A pair of 15-yard completions to Jorden moved the Stamps into field goal range, culminating in a 20-yard chip shot by Paredes. Arbuckle would not fail to finish on the next drive. A pass interference penalty on Duron Carter moved the ball 44 yards, and on the very next play Arbuckle connected with Nick Truesdell for a 14-yard touchdown. The penalty-aided drive pivoted Calgary ahead 23-3.
Arbuckle continued to operate the reins in the third quarter, producing more of the same and setting up another field goal, this time a 29-yarder by rookie Gabriel Ferraro.
After Bridge completed two of his five passing attempts, the Riders went back to Collaros to start the third, hoping to strike up some offence. But after completing back-to-back passes to Naaman Roosevelt, the veteran quarterback was hit hard by Folarin Orimolade. A slow walk to the sideline ensued, and Collaros spent the rest of the game watching from the sideline with his helmet on as Watford came into the game.
Watford led a drive deep into Stamps territory with the help of a 30-yard completion to Roosevelt and a 27-yard grab by Carter. But on the next play, Watford made his first mistake of the game, getting picked off by Gump Hayes in the Calgary end zone to immediately end the threat.
Brihm entered the game for the Stamps next and it was a seamless transition for the offence. After a 48-yard pickup by Anthony Kelly, Brihm found Truesdell for a 21-yard catch-and-run, further extending Calgary’s lead. Brihm was the third pivot into the game and the third to throw a touchdown pass.
The Riders finally responded as Watford continued to move the football down the field. Vying for the third-string job, the former Philadelphia Eagle hooked up with Caleb Holley for a 34-yard touchdown, his team’s first of the night to cut the deficit to 32-9.
Stanzi was the fourth quarterback into the game and picked up where the others left off. The Stamps’ backup hit Richard Sindani for a 33-yard pickup, then hit Boston Rowe — the rookie fullback who played linebacker for the University of Calgary — for an impressive 28-yard touchdown, extending the Stamps’ lead to 39-9.
The Riders added three late points on a field goal from Brett Lauther.
It was an impressive night for the Stamps’ quarterbacks, who combined to go 17-of-28  for 281 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Bridge finished 2-for-5 for 21 yards for the Riders, while B.J. Daniels failed to complete a pass on three attempts.
The Riders’ offence mustered only 276 yards in the loss.
The Riders will try to erase their memory from Friday’s game before taking on the Argos in their season-opener on June 15 in Regina. Meanwhile, Dave Dickenson’s team appears to be ready for the Stamps’ season-opener on June 16 vs. Hamilton.