Canadian Football League

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Gades get thumped in Canadian Football League opener

The Ottawa Renegades wore ''FC'' stickers on their helmets last night, a tribute to legendary Rough Riders coach Frank Clair, who passed away this spring.
Surely, Frank would have appreciated the gesture.
And just as surely, he wouldn't have appreciated this game.
The Renegades were thumped 41-16 by the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL season opener for both teams, snapping Ottawa's streak of two consecutive victories in curtain-lifters (both on the road).
It also extended the drought for Ottawa's professional football teams to now 23 years without a win at Commonwealth Stadium.
Edmonton's rookie head coach Danny Maciocia, who earned his first CFL coaching victory, picked Ricky Ray to start at quarterback over Jason Maas, but kept his decision secret until kick-off.
Brilliant move, brilliant performance.
Ray spent last year with the New York Jets of the National Football League, but showed little rust before a crowd of 36,912, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for two more.
Conversely, Ottawa pivot Kerry Joseph struggled, missing several easy throws by wide margins. In his defence, the Renegades offensive line was awful, permitting seven sacks through three quarters, and giving him scant time to see the field, let alone throw.
After taking another vicious shot early in the fourth quarter, a frustrated Joseph tossed his helmet after reaching the sideline and walked down away from the bench area for some alone time.
It was a fitting moment. This was a solo battle.
The Renegades meek line was the biggest culprit in a pathetic offensive showing. Ottawa did not have a first-down in the third quarter and had just 84 total yards at halftime.
In the second half, Edmonton put the contest away with a 10-point third period. Ray connected with Jason Tucker on a 21-yard touchdown, finishing a drive that was seemingly over twice if not for Renegade penalties. Later in the half, Sean Fleming booted 10 and 26-yard field goals, and Ray scored on a one-yard sneak.
Defensively, the Renegades showed some positive signs. They generated a pass rush, missed few tackles, and shut down Edmonton's running game. But that was hardly good enough.
The Eskimos took a 19-9 lead into halftime, a margin that bulged in the final minutes of the second quarter on a controversial touchdown.
Ray hit Tucker for a 19-yard score with 1:28 remaining.It was a damning call against the Renegades, but the visitors did a decent job damning themselves by allowing four sacks, squandering scoring opportunities, and taking an illegal participation penalty on a Pat Fleming punt that pinned the Eskimos deep in their own territory.
The foul represented a 29-yard fluctuation in Edmonton's favour. On the ensuing possession, Ray passed to Derrell Mitchell for a 36-yard gain and capped the drive with a one-yard sneak for a touchdown.
Ottawa's other glaring miscue came when Jason Armstead fumbled his first punt-return, leading to a 10-yard Fleming field goal early in the first period.
Armstead made amends later, returning a punt 87 yards for a TD.
Armstead scored a 54-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a sensational catch-and-run.
The Renegades' other points came on singles -- one on a punt, one on a missed field goal.
Matt Kellett missed 42- and 33-yard field goals at a time when Ottawa was winning the field position battle.
Cutting Him Off at the Pass


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