Canadian Football League

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Stampe lose Canadian Football League opener

Damon Allen threw three touchdown passes, including a pair to Tony Miles, and the Toronto Argonauts held on for a 22-16 win over the Calgary Stampeders.

Robert Baker also caught a touchdown pass for the Argos (1-1), who bounced back from a season-opening loss to British Columbia to earn their first victory since winning the Grey Cup last year.
Sandro Deangelis kicked three field goals to lead the Stampeders (0-1), who were playing their first game this season after an opening-week bye.
After a scoreless first quarter, Toronto took a 7-0 lead on Allen's 23-yard touchdown pass to Miles less than a minute into the second.
The Argos extended their advantage to 14-0 on Miles' second touchdown catch of the quarter, an 11-yard grab with 5:03 remaining before halftime.
Calgary got its first points on Deangelis' 18-yard field goal with 13 seconds left before the break.
Toronto went ahead 22-3 in the third quarter on Allen's 28-yard touchdown pass to Baker and a single. The Stampeders got seven points back on Henry Burris' 57-yard TD connection with Kenyon Rambo to pull within 22-10.
Calgary cut its deficit to 22-13 on Deangelis' 46-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, and got within 22-16 on his 38-yarder with 4:37 remaining in the game, but could get no closer.NOTES:Calgary had a league-worst 4-14 record last year and was playing its first game under a new ownership group, which includes former CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell...The Stampeders got off to a losing start at home, where they were 3-5 last season.

Gades win Canadian Football League home opener

There was nothing wrong with Matt Kellett's vision Friday night against his old team.
Facing Montreal for the first time in the regular season, the former Alouette kicked the tying field goal in the fourth quarter then booted a 14-yarder in overtime to lift the Ottawa Renegades to a come-from-behind 39-36 victory.
The Alouettes, who blew a 23-point lead going into the final quarter, dealt Kellett to the Renegades at the CFL draft after he developed vision problems last season in Montreal.
"It's nice to get that under my belt," Kellett said from an upbeat Ottawa locker-room.
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The Renegades beat Montreal for the first time in six games. Their last regular-season win over the Alouettes came Aug. 29, 2003.

"I have no hard feelings against those guys, they treated me very well," Kellett said of his former employers. "(But) I might look back on it and smile in a few hours."
The Alouettes led 33-10 going into the fourth quarter, then the Renegades staged a furious comeback with quarterback Kerry Joseph running for a pair of touchdowns and throwing for another.
"They kept going, they kept tugging at it and tugging at it, and kept at it," Alouettes defensive end Anwar Stewart said. "Next thing you know, it was 33-30."
Then Kellett connected from 32 yards out on the final play of the fourth quarter to force the extra session where he and Alouettes rookie Damon Duval exchanged field goals.
Duval eventually missed for the first time in six attempts on the night when his 35-yarder into the wind sailed well wide and Kellett stepped up and made his chip shot to decide matters.
With the Glieberman family, which once owned the old Rough Riders franchise in the nation's capital, again in charge and trying to usher in a new era in the Renegades' fourth season in the CFL, it was a much-needed win for Ottawa.
The Canada Day bash, before a regular-season franchise-low Frank Clair Stadium crowd of 18,899, resulted in just the third Renegades' victory over Montreal in 10 all-time attempts and evened their record at 1-1 on the season.
"It was a big win for us. We need to get started a little quicker, but it was an accomplishment because we kept fighting," said Joseph, who ran for three TDs overall, from two, one and five yards out. He also connected with Frank Cutolo for the receiver's first TD in an Ottawa uniform.
Joseph finished 23 of 36 passing for 302 yards with the TD and one interception.
Anthony Calvillo, who completed 29 of 50 passes for 399 yards and two interceptions, ran for a TD and hooked up with Ben Cahoon for another and Duval hit five field goals for Montreal (1-1).
"We should have killed those guys and we let them (back) in," Stewart said.
The game was played in memory of legendary Rough Riders head coach and general manager Frank Clair, who passed away in April at the age of 87. He was honoured with a pre-game ceremony attended by members of his family, former Ottawa players and league commissioner Tom Wright.
The Renegades then went out and turned in a shaky start.
They were dogged by mistakes and ineffectiveness, on and off the field.
The scoreboard repeatedly went on and off throughout the night, sideline advertising boards blew away in the wind, and at least one fan was hauled off by police after taking the game's Mardi Gras promotion apparently too far. In the promotion, women were encouraged to collect as many beads as possible from male spectators in an attempt to win a cash prize.
The Renegades took the lead through a 41-yard field goal from Kellett on the opening drive of the game, but the Alouettes responded with one of their own - a 13-yarder by Duval.
Calvillo then hit Cahoon with a nine-yard pass just before the end of the first quarter and Montreal led 10-3.
That grew to 17-3 early in the second quarter when Calvillo kept the ball and ran it in from three yards out.
After a pair of Duval field goals, from 49 and 40 yards respectively, made it a 20-point game, the Renegades drove the ball to the Montreal two-yard line only for their drive to stall with seconds remaining in the half.
When Renegades head coach Joe Paopao sent out the field-goal unit, the crowd jeered the decision so loudly that he called a time-out and sent Joseph back out to successfully scamper into the end zone on third down and it was 23-10 at the half.
The lead grew to 33-10 before Joseph began to take the game into his own hands and ran for a pair of TDs in the fourth quarter.
"We finally got things going. The defence, especially, they did a good job of getting us the ball," Joseph said.
When he found former B.C. Lion Cutolo with a 17-yard TD pass with less than three minutes to go, Ottawa was back in the game at 33-30.
"You have a team down like that, you've got to step on their throats and we didn't do that," said Alouettes slotback Terry Vaughn, who caught 11 passes for 160 yards.
Notes: Ottawa travels to B.C. to play the Lions next Friday. ... Montreal plays host to the Edmonton Eskimos that same night. ... CFL commissioner Tom Wright on the Glieberman's riskee Mardi Gras promotion: "If you're asking me where (it) ranks on my list of promotions, it probably wouldn't make the top 10."

Friday, July 01, 2005

Bombers lose Canadian Football League home opener

Edmonton wide receiver Jason Tucker thought he was making an ordinary catch, but it ended up being a 105-yard touchdown reception for a team record as the Eskimos defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27-8 Thursday night.
Edmonton Eskimos' Deitan Dubuc collides with Winnipeg Blue Bombers' William Fields during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg on Thursday. (CP/Marianne Helm) "It was a simple catch, a breakdown in their coverage and I knew I just had one guy to beat and if I got by him it would be a touchdown," Tucker said. Tucker burned past safety Wes Lysack and sped down the side of the field into the Edmonton record book.
It was the longest pass reception in Eskimo history since Henry (Gizmo) Williams notched a 102-yarder from quarterback Damon Allen in 1993.
"I feel honoured to be in the stats that way," Tucker said. "I feel good."
The play began with the Eskimos starting at their five-yard line to open the second half. Quarterback Ricky Ray's toss to Tucker was only about 25 yards. The TD made the score 17-1 and had some of the 22,087 spectators at Canad Inns Stadium groaning.
Edmonton (2-0) last won a game in Winnipeg (0-2) on Aug. 13, 1999.
Ray completed 28 of 40 passes for 469 yards, including a 19-yard TD pass to Derrell Mitchell with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
Ray saluted his defence after the victory.
"Our defence has been the strength of our team so far this year," Ray said. "Offensively, we've just got to protect the football and just score enough points because they're going to do a great job defensively."
Eskimos kicker Sean Fleming had a pair of field goals, including the 465th of his career that took him past Dave Cutler for first on Edmonton's all-time field goal list.
On Edmonton's second possession of the game, back-up running back Mike Bradley made it 10-0 at 8:15 when he found a hole and rushed 60 yards untouched up the middle of the field for his first CFL rushing TD.
Starting running back Elvis Joseph had left the game with a suspected rib injury.
Winnipeg got a single from a Jon Ryan 79-yard punt in the first quarter.
The Eskimos' total net offence at the half was 246 yards compared to Winnipeg's 47 yards.
Bomber quarterback Tee Martin was sacked three times in the first quarter. Martin, 26, was making his first CFL start after replacing Kevin Glenn, who suffered a high ankle injury last week against Saskatchewan.
Martin recorded his first CFL touchdown pass late in the third quarter. The Bombers blocked a Fleming punt, taking over at Edmonton's 26-yard line. The drive ended with lineman Jon Oosterhuis catching a one-yard pass in the end zone as time expired to close the gap 17-8.
"I felt comfortable, but we lost," said Martin, who was 12-of-29 for 107 yards. "I didn't feel like I played as good as I would have liked to play."
Yet, he was going to stay positive for himself, and his teammates.
"It's a new system, new coaching staff and some new guys on the team and as the year goes on and we continue to practise with each other, we're going to get better," Martin said.
Martin joined the Bombers last September after being released by the NFL's Oakland Raiders. The former University of Tennessee star led the Volunteers to a U.S. title in 1998.
Mitchell led all receivers with nine catches for 145 yards. Bomber slotback Milt Stegall, who was shaken up with about a minute left in the game, had a team-high two catches for 26 yards.
Note: Edmonton receiver Derrell Mitchell passed Rocky DiPietro for 12th on the CFL all-time receiving yards list with 9,892 yards. DiPietro had 9,762 yards

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Canadian Football League players of the week

B.C. Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson and Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back LaDouphyous McCalla were handed CFL player of the week honours Tuesday for their performances in Week 1 of the season.
Dickenson, fully recovered from last year's left-knee surgery, was named the CFL's offensive player of the week after leading the Lions to a season-opening 27-20 win over the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts last Saturday.
Quarterback Dave Dickenson led theB.C. Lions to victory last Saturday and was awarded with the CFL's offensive player of the week award. (CP File Photo) Dickenson, who resumed the No. 1 quarterback role from the league's most outstanding player last season, Casey Printers, completed 22-of-28 passes for 260 yards and one touchdown in the victory.

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Nealon Greene and Edmonton Eskimos pivot Ricky Ray were also considered for the award.
McCalla had one interception, two tackles and knocked down two passes in Saskatchewan's 42-15 win over Winnipeg last Saturday.
Edmonton Eskimos linebacker/safety Steven Marsh and Argos linebacker Kevin Eiben were also considered for the honour.
Edmonton defensive end Rashad Jeanty captured the league's lineman of the week award for his dominating performance against the Ottawa Renegades last Friday.
In the 41-16 Eskimos win, Jeanty had one special teams tackle, one fumble recovery and three quarterback sacks. The six-foot-three-inch, 230-pound Jeanty beat out Edmonton teammate Cedric Scott and Ottawa's Kai Ellis for the honour.
Roughriders running back Corey Holmes picked up the special teams player of the week.
Holmes returned a kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown and finished with 308 combined yards in the Roughriders victory over the Blue Bombers on Saturday

Canadian Football League Buy-Out

Canadian Football League clubs have agreed to pay Brad and Bill Watters as much as $1 million should the minority owners of the Ottawa Renegades drop their consideration of a lawsuit over the oft-violated salary cap.
The Citizen has learned that each CFL team, excluding Ottawa, is expected to pay $125,000 to keep detailed player-expense data out of the public record, which would have happened had a suit been filed. It is believed the payments will be deducted from league disbursements to the teams and that only the Toronto Argonauts are balking at this point.
"All comments on the Ottawa situation must go through the commissioner's office," Argonauts president Keith Pelley said yesterday.
A league spokeswoman said commissioner Tom Wright would not comment on the matter.
The settlement, which was reached late last month and first reported in the Citizen on June 1, was tied to a sale of 51 per cent of the Renegades franchise late last month to Detroit businessman Bernie Glieberman.
The Watters had staked out legal territory in case league governors did not approve their choice of buyer (Glieberman) or the league attempted to revoke their franchise, as happened in Toronto and Hamilton in 2003. Plans had been afoot for months, with lawyers having already interviewed former CFL and team officials about the league's dodgy player-compensation system.
The Watters believed they had a case against the league and its teams for not enforcing the $2.6-million salary cap, which was part of the expansion agreement and, according to former club president Brad Watters' comments over the years, contributed to a broken business model in Ottawa.
Brad Watters did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. He and his father continue to own a small portion of the club, partnered with Glieberman and original investor Bill Smith.
The elder Watters also refused to comment yesterday, saying he was always a silent investor and had nothing to do with several agreements that needed to be reached for the sale to be completed.
That process proved to be lengthy and complicated. Toward the end, many officials, including Wright, referred to various "moving parts" of the transaction.
Smith first reached a deal to buy out former Renegades governor Randy Gillies and minority investors Rick Baker and Kevin Kimsa before forging his union with Glieberman.
"I have not sued and I have no plans on suing," Smith said yesterday.
"Any money my partners might have gotten was from Bill Smith's own pocket. Randy, Rick and Kevin had no desire to go after the league. Never did."
It is believed that the money the Watters will receive for settling the dispute will be paid to them by the league through Smith.
Governors feared the suit, but not so much the legal merits of the case.
The action would have triggered a discovery process in which clubs would have been required to turn over to the court detailed financial information that they keep secret from the CFL office.
The clubs were worried that those disclosures could spark the interest of tax authorities on both sides of the Canada-United States border because of non-salary benefits that are paid to players, but are not included in the contracts that are registered with the league. Those benefits could include such things as paying for cellphones or club memberships, for example.
The governors' worries should go away if the settlement is finalized. What remains unclear is whether the nine teams are sufficiently spooked to begin enforcing the cap or whether the settlement allows them to preserve the status quo.
The Renegades' expansion agreement says the CFL constitution governs league procedure, and the constitution sets out the parameters for a salary cap, including penalties for violators, which have not been enforced.
Wright has said the cap will have teeth in 2006, but his future is also unclear.
He was offered a one-year contract extension with no raise from his $400,000 salary, and the contract still hasn't been signed.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Ottawa sells nearly 6,000 Canadian Football League season tickets in one day

The Ottawa Renegades sold nearly 6,000 discounted season tickets Saturday, shattering the CFL club's sales goal by over 40 per cent and more than doubling its number of season-ticket holders.
The Renegades expected to sell about 4,000 tickets at a discounted price of $99, but instead sold 5,836 - with exact online sales still to be added.
The average attendance at Renegades home games dropped slightly from 23,378 in 2003 to 23,050 last year, a number an outgoing club executive described as inflated.
When Detroit businessman Bernie Glieberman, and his son, Lonie, returned to Ottawa for the second time as majority owners of the club earlier this month they vowed to increase ticket sales.
"Today was an unbelievable success for our organization," Lonie Glieberman said. "This sale will help make the stadium a fun, exciting place to be - which was one of our mandates since taking over the team just a few weeks ago."
Prior to Saturday's promotion, the Renegades had just 5,000 season-ticket holders.
Ottawa's first home game is Canada Day against the Montreal Alouettes.
"We wanted today to have a real positive momentum builder heading into our home opener, and we accomplished that beyond what we could have even imagined," Lonie Glieberman said. "As our new management group continues to move forward and work toward success in Ottawa, today could not have been better as a start to invigorate a solid fan base."

Riders destroy Bombers in Canadian Football League opener

Corey Holmes returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown and accumulated 308 total yards to spark the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a 42-15 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in CFL action Saturday night.
Saskatchewan Roughriders' Kenton Keith is brought down just short of the goal line in the third quarter of CFL action on Saturday in Regina. Holmes gained 67 yards on 11 rushing plays, 22 yards on three pass receptions, 71 yards on two punt returns and 148 yards on three kickoff returns.
The start of the game, the season-opener for both teams, was delayed half an hour by a thunderstorm accompanied by frequent lightning.
Holmes' touchdown at the 12-second mark was the Roughriders' first kickoff return for a major since Kevin Nickerson scored on a 96-yarder against the Ottawa Renegades on August 17, 2003.
Holmes electrified the 23,067 fans three minutes later with a 63-yard punt return that set up the Roughriders at the Winnipeg 20.
Nealon Greene sneaked in for a one-yard touchdown four plays later.
Saskatchewan padded its lead to 16-0 late in the first quarter when Scott Gordon blocked Jon Ryan's punt in the Winnipeg end zone and the ball caromed out of bounds for a safety touch.
Roughriders placekicker Paul McCallum expanded the margin to 19-0 on a 16-yard field goal early in the second quarter before the Blue Bombers finally hit the scoreboard. Troy Westwood's 43-yard field goal attempt went wide for a single at 8:32.
Just 70 seconds later, Keith Stokes broke free for a 69-yard punt return touchdown, Winnipeg's first such major since Stokes himself had an 83-yard touchdown against the Montreal Alouettes on August 26, 2004.
McCallum's 38-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter gave Saskatchewan a 22-8 halftime lead.
Winnipeg surrendered another safety at 2:30 of the third quarter when Roughriders defensive end Terrell Jurineack stripped Kevin Glenn in the end zone. Matt Sheridan of the Blue Bombers recovered the ball and Saskatchewan's Scott Schultz smothered him for the two points.
Saskatchewan elected to take the ball on its own 35 after Schultz's safety and reeled off a 75-yard march that culminated in Nealon Greene's 14-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Thurmon at 7:09. Winnipeg replied one minute later when Glenn capped a three-play, 62-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Milt Stegall.
Greene connected with Matt Dominguez with a five-yard scoring pass on the last play of the third quarter. McCallum, who converted all four Roughrider touchdowns, added a single and a 19-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Westwood kicked two converts.
Winnipeg's next action is Thursday at home against the Edmonton Eskimos. The Roughriders will be in Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats on Saturday.

B.C. wins Canadian Football League Grey Cup re-match

Dave Dickenson and the B.C. Lions crashed the Toronto Argonauts' party Saturday night. Dickenson engineered an impressive 16-play, 89-yard drive that Antonio Warren capped with a one-yard TD run with 1:12 remaining as B.C. rallied for a wild 27-20 win over Toronto in a rematch of last year's Grey Cup.
Toronto Argonauts slot back Robert Baker (88) is wrapped up by B.C. Lions defensive back Tony Tiller (24) during first half CFL action in Toronto on Saturday. The Argos beat the Lions 27-19 in Ottawa last November and celebrated that victory Saturday night by raising their championship banner prior to the contest.
Noel Prefontaine's 45-yard field goal at 9:31 of the fourth put Toronto ahead 20-19. But Dickenson moved the Lions, who led 19-6 early in the third, down the field smartly and hit Geroy Simon for the two-point convert after Warren's TD.
"We outplayed them in the first half but had lost all the momentum and didn't get it back until that final drive," Dickenson said. "We hadn't kicked field goals as well as we could have so we worked to put it into the end zone for the lead."
B.C. kicker Duncan O'Mahony had earlier missed field-goal tries from 29 and 28 yards. So instead of leading 23-20 when Prefontaine connected in the third, the Lions trailed by a point.
Bashir Levingston brought the Rogers Centre gathering of 30,712 to its feet when he appeared to return the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. But he was ruled out of bounds at the Toronto 50-yard line.
The Argos got to the B.C. 17-yard line before Otis Floyd recovered Damon Allen's fumble with six seconds remaining.
Before the opening kickoff, the Argos hoisted their Grey Cup banner to the rafters during an elaborate 20-minute ceremony. With the roof closed, fans were treated to fireworks, a laser light show, video sequences on the stadium's video scoreboard and ring presentations as part of the celebration.
All the while, B.C. remained in its dressing room, patiently waiting to take to the field. But Dickenson said he and his teammates weren't offended by the festivities.
"I didn't notice the presentation," he said. "I respect their team and they just wanted to celebrate with their fans, then start the year."
Dickenson had a gutsy performance for B.C. His passing numbers weren't spectacular (22-of-28 attempts for 260 yards and a TD) but Dickenson stood tall against the Argos' rugged defence. A traditional drop-back passer, he was sacked six times but also ran for 55 yards on seven carries.
"Dave is Dave," Lions coach Wally Buono said. "He's tough, gritty.
"He takes his shots and makes the plays, each one adds to the confidence of the team."
Tempers flared with nine minutes to play as a melee broke out, with Argos tackle Bernard Williams hurling both a Lions' helmet and a mouthguard downfield. Once the smoke had cleared, Williams and B.C.'s Jojuan Armour were ejected.
Toronto head coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons was disappointed his team didn't take advantage of its scoring chances.
"We had a lot of opportunities but we foiled a lot of them," he said. "Quite frankly, we kicked too many field goals.
"The first game of the season is essentially a third pre-season game but the challenge is that it counts. But we put ourselves in a position to win the football game."
Allen, who was named the 2004 Grey Cup MVP, finished 22-of-35 passing for 284 yards and had a 21-yard TD strike to R. Jay Soward. But he said turnovers were the key to the game.
"Early in the season I've found teams that lose the turnover battle have tough times winning games," he said. "We lost the turnover battle and that was pretty much the difference in the game.
"There wasn't anything they did as a defence to stop us, we stopped ourselves."
Simon also had a touchdown for the Lions. O'Mahony had two converts, a field goal and two singles.
Prefontaine finished with four field goals, a convert and single.
Notes - Allen was at quarterback for B.C. in 2000 the last time the club won a Grey Cup. ... It might've been the first regular-season game for both teams, but there were no penalties in the first quarter. ... The defence that Toronto fielded Saturday consisted of the same 12 starters who faced B.C. in the Grey Cup. ... Dave Ritchie, fired midway through last season as Winnipeg's head coach, was B.C.'s defensive co-ordinator.