Canadian Football League

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Winnipeg picks up first Canadian Football League win

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers knew winning their first game of the year wouldn't be easy, but even they couldn't imagine a night where they needed to score over 50 points to beat the Montreal Alouettes.

Montreal Alouettes' Richard Karikari uses Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Kamau Peterson as leverage to catch a pass during the first half in Winnipeg on Friday night. (CP/Marianne Helm)
After blowing a 24-point lead twice, Winnipeg defeated Montreal 51-46 Friday night in a wild contest.
On an evening of big plays none was bigger than the 56-yard touchdown strike that veteran receiver Milt Stegall hauled in from quarterback Kevin Glenn with 1:44 remaining to give Winnipeg its first win.
"It was a good game for the fans to watch," said Stegall.
"We showed some character, especially on offence. We scored when we had to."
Stegall has three catches for 60 yards.
"We're still not where we should be, but we're going in the right direction," he said.
Charles Roberts had a huge game for the Bombers on the ground. He became the first running back to gain over 100 yards against Montreal this season. Roberts finished with 195 rushing yards on 20 carries but more importantly, scored two touchdowns in the second half.
"You still don't like it to be that close at the end," said Roberts. "I feel like we did our best against one of the best teams in the league."
After running back Eric Lapointe's one-yard touchdown with 2:51 remaining in the game put Montreal (2-2) up 44-43, it appeared Winnipeg (1-4) was heading for another heart-breaking loss.
However, Stegall's touchdown reception and Wane McGarity's two-point conversion assured the Bombers would leave with a victory.
William Fields killed Montreal's last chance when he intercepted Anthony Calvillo on the last play of the game.
Calvillo was 29-of-42 for 439 yards on the night with three TDs and three interceptions.
"We left a lot of points on the field," said Calvillo.
"We feel very confident we'll get the job done but we're making too many mistakes. Guys have got to know we can't breeze through this league and win 13 games. We're shooting ourselves in the foot."
Roberts gave Winnipeg a 43-37 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter after a 69-yard touchdown run, but the Bombers failed to convert the kick after a botched snap.
Though the Bombers scored plenty of points, their defence simply couldn't stop Montreal's explosive offence in the second half.
The momentum turned when the Montreal defence, facing a third-and-one, stuffed Roberts at the Winnipeg 44.
The Alouettes then took the ball and scored after receiver Ben Cahoon made a spectacular one-handed grab in the back of the end zone to cut Winnipeg's lead to 37-29 with 9:39 remaining.
The turnovers didn't stop there as Reggie Durden intercepted a Glenn pass and returned it to the Winnipeg five. After a penalty pushed Montreal back 10 yards, Calvillo hit receiver Kerry Watkins on a 15-yard strike at the 7:43 mark.
A Cahoon two-point conversion tied the game at 37 and gave Montreal the lift it desperately needed to cap the comeback only to see it fall short minutes later.
Special teams played a key role in Winnipeg's first two scores of the second half.
Keith Stokes took the opening kickoff 50 yards to give the Bombers excellent field position. Roberts then finished off the drive with a two-yard run and a 31-10 Winnipeg lead.
Stokes then returned a punt 26 yards to the Montreal 49. The return led to a Troy Westwood 49-yard field goal for a 34-10 lead.
Montreal closed the gap to 34-17 after Cahoon caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Calvillo with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter.
The highlight of the game for the Bombers came after they conceding two-points while punting out of their own end zone.
On the ensuing drive, Cahoon fumbled the ball after taking a vicious hit from behind by Bombers safety Wes Lysack. Linebacker Willie Fells recovered his second fumble of the game as Winnipeg started possession from the Montreal 15.
The drive stalled, however, and the Bombers had to settle for a 22-yard Westwood field goal to push the lead to 37-19 with 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Penalties were costly for both teams. Montreal was flagged 16 times for 113 yards. Winnipeg had 12 penalties for 72 yards.
"If there's only one thing you can take out of this as a positive is that our guys battled and they worked hard the whole time," said Montreal head coach Don Matthews.
"They are guys that will not go down easily, but we certainly made enough mistakes - penalties, fumbles and interceptions."

Friday, July 22, 2005

Canadian Football League suspends B.C. player

B.C. Lions offensive lineman Bobby Singh was suspended one game by the Canadian Football League on Thursday for striking an official during last week's game against Toronto.

League officials investigated the incident and imposed the suspension consistent with its zero tolerance policy on "striking and official." Singh will miss Saturday's game at Hamilton. The Lions are 3-0 this season and lead the Western Conference.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Cats still winless in Canadian Football League season

Omarr Morgan turned the tide, but he couldn't do it alone. Morgan and Davin Bush teamed up for a 105-yard interception return touchdown to help the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a 32-13 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Sunday.
Hamilton was on the verge of cutting into the Roughriders' 12-point lead with five minutes remaining when Morgan intercepted a Danny McManus pass on the Saskatchewan five-yard line. Morgan returned the ball 46 yards before flipping to Bush, who covered the last 59 yards to the end zone.
"Davin's the fastest player on the field," said Morgan, who threaded his way through several Tiger-Cats and actually covered about 90 yards of real estate before his lateral to Bush on the Riders' 51. "When you get the ball in his hands, you might as well strike up the band. It's a touchdown.
"I always tell him and LaDouphyous (McCalla), if I get a pick, be looking up because I'm coming your way."
The Taylor Field crowd of 23,412 feared another late defensive collapse. Saskatchewan blew a 12-point edge in an away loss to Toronto last weekend and almost gave the game away in Hamilton two weeks ago.

"We practised last-second drives all week," Morgan said. "You think about those things, but you have to make a play and we did."
Saskatchewan (3-1) maintained its share of first place in the West Division with the B.C. Lions (3-0) and Edmonton Eskimos (3-1). Hamilton remained in the East Division basement at 0-3.
Roughriders head coach Danny Barrett gambled heavily on the Roughriders' go-ahead drive late in the third quarter. Trailing 13-12, he took McCallum's successful 29-yard field goal off the board to accept an offside penalty that set up third-one at the Hamilton 15. Corey Holmes ran for the necessary yard and, two plays later, Greene scrambled 14 yards for the major.
"We held them well in the third quarter but we jumped offside that one time on the field goal and you can't do that," Hamilton head coach Greg Marshall said. "You cannot give Nealon Greene a fresh set of downs. Winning football teams don't make those mistakes."
A wind blowing from 39 to 56 kilometres per hour dictated the scoring in the first half. Hamilton scored eight points in the first quarter on Julian Radlein's one-yard run, Jamie Boreham's convert and Boreham's 54-yard punt single.
Radlein's touchdown was set up when Roughriders quarterback Nealon Greene dropped the football while rolling out and Tiger-Cats tackle Adriano Bellli recovered the fumble on the Roughriders' 21-yard line.
Saskatchewan rallied with 12 second-quarter points as Greene sandwiched a one-yard scoring run between a pair of Paul McCallum field goals from 15 and 35 yards. The touchdown - set up by Dominique Dorsey's 65-yard punt return to the Hamilton one-yard line - was unconverted after the snap went high. But because McCallum did not put his foot to the ball his record of never having missed a convert in his career remained intact.
Hamilton scored the first points against the wind early in the third quarter when Roughriders centre Jocelyn Frenette snapped the ball over McCallum's head in punt formation from the Saskatchewan 53. McCallum caught up to the ball near his 25-yard line and kicked it backwards through his end zone, giving the Tiger-Cats a safety touch.
Subsequently taking the ball on their own 35, the Tiger-Cats marched 53 yards to set up Boreham's 30-yard field goal and take a 13-12 lead.
Saskatchewan padded its 19-13 lead with Chris Szarka's one-yard touchdown plunge midway through the fourth quarter. Corey Holmes did everything to set it up with a 28-yard punt return, an eight-yard reception and runs of eight and three yards. A two-point convert attempt failed.
Greene completed 15 of 31 passes for 186 yards. McManus was 23-for-46 for 262 yards. Both quarterbacks threw one interception.
Holmes, the league's leading rusher, gained 71 yards on 21 carries while the entire Tiger-Cat team was held to nine yards on 11 attempts.
Notes: Seven Saskatchewan starters sat out: running back Kenton Keith (bruised sternum), receivers Matt Dominguez (torn knee ligament) and Karsten Bailey (sprained ankle), centre Jeremy O'Day (torn knee ligament), defensive tackle Nate Davis (sore back), linebacker Jackie Mitchell (groin pull) and cornerback McCalla (hamstring). . . . Hamilton has lost its last six games at Taylor Field. . . . Saskatchewan returns to action Saturday in Calgary against the Stampeders. Hamilton is at home against the B.C. Lions the same day.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Gades move into tie for first in Canadian Football League East

The Ottawa Renegades are known for being slow starters, but on Saturday they scored early and often and came away with a big win. Yo Murphy caught two touchdown passes from Kerry Joseph and Josh Ranek ran for 137 yards in the first half as the Renegades defeated the Calgary Stampeders 33-18 Saturday night at Frank Clair Stadium.
Ranek finished the game with 20 carries for 164 yards.
"That's one thing we wanted to focus on," said Ranek. "We didn't want to wait until the third or fourth quarter to our offence going. We did that in the first half."
Matt Kellett added a pair of field goals to the Renegades' 27-point outburst in the first half.
"It was big, big time," Renegades' head coach Joe Paopao said of the victory.
"There were different players making big plays out there, so it was a culmination of things. We also gave the defence something to defend."
The offence dried up in the second half with Ottawa managing just two more Kellett field goals. But the solid Renegades defence shut the Stampeders down, allowing only a four-yard touchdown run by Joffrey Reynolds.
"We made the plays in all three phases of the game and we tried to set the tempo early," said Joseph.
"We missed a lot of opportunities (in the second half). We've got to capitalize on some opportunities down in the green zone and not try to settle for field goals."
The win improved the Renegades' record to 2-2 while the Stampeders fell to 1-2.
"I think the score was flattering for the Calgary Stampeders," said Stamps' head coach Tom Higgins. "We got licked in almost every phase of this football game. There was one pretty good football team on the field, there wasn't two. We're going to have to regroup. We're not as good as we think we are."
The game was delayed 29 minutes as a thunderstorm rolled through the area. The weather couldn't be blamed for the small announced crowd of 16,303 as it was sunny until about 15 minutes before the scheduled kickoff.
The Renegades went into the second half holding a 27-11 advantage, but the score was a little flattering to Calgary who scored their first TD of the game with two seconds remaining in the first half. Henry Burris connected with Jeremaine Copeland on a nine-yard scoring play capping a drive that started with a 23-yard strike to Nikolas Lewis and 16-and 15-yard passes to Brett Ralph.
Less than a minute earlier Murphy hauled in his second TD pass of the night, this one a 10-yarder from Joseph, and after the Kellett convert, the Renegades had a 27-4 lead.
After Burke Dales kicked a 71-yard single to get the Stamps on the board, he hit an 11-yard field goal narrowing Ottawa's lead to 16 points.
The Renegades opened the second quarter with 10 straight points, with Murphy hauling in a Joseph pass for a 50-yard catch and run TD. At 5:44 of the quarter Kellett was successful on a 23-yard field goal attempt, after closing out the first quarter with a 29-yard field goal.
The defence opened the scoring when Robert Grant forced a Burris fumble and Kyries Hebert recovered and scampered 23 yards for the touchdown.

B.C. remains only undefeated team in Canadian Football League

The B.C. Lions continue to do things the hard way, but they are still the only undefeated team in the CFL.
"We haven't made anything easy and hopefully we build on this," said quarterback Dave Dickenson, who threw an interception in the final minute of a 30-22 victory over the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts on Friday night.
"We need to learn from it. But you know, we've made our mistakes and we're still winning. That's the key."
B.C. needed a third down sack of Toronto quarterback Damon Allen by Nautyn McKay-Loeschar with 56 seconds remaining and a fumble recovery by Barrin Simpson with 40 seconds left after Dickenson's errant throw.
The Lions were coasting with a 23-1 lead early in the third quarter before Toronto scored 14 points within 36 seconds thanks to an Allen-engineered touchdown drive and a high snap recovered by defensive end Jonathan Brown.
Last week B.C. kick returner Jerel Myers fumbled in the end zone to give the Ottawa Renegades hope late in a 37-29 loss to the Lions.
"The way these games are ending, it's tough to be too positive," said Dickenson, who connected on 26 of 37 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns as B.C. improved to 3-0.
"I gave them (Toronto) a chance there but I guess a win's a win. Toronto's a good team but man, are we making it tough on ourselves."
Still, Dickenson was happy with the Lions' sweep over the team that beat them in last season's Grey Cup.
"When you play the defending champs for two of the first three games you're hoping for a split. To get a sweep, it says something about this team."
Dickenson, who was sacked 12 times in the Lions' first two games, got better protection Friday and connected on a 73-yard bomb to Geroy Simon with 15 seconds left in the first half.
"It's just taking a shot here and there and we needed that one at the end of the half," Dickenson said.
Simon led all receivers with 140 yards on six catches.
"We know they're a cagey group that knows what's coming but we changed some things up," he said of the Toronto secondary. "Dave had time so we (receivers) had time to get downfield."
Tony Simmons and Jason Clermont also caught touchdown tosses while Duncan O'Mahony made two of four field goal attempts and added a single and three converts. Argo kicker Noel Prefontaine conceded a safety.
Rookie Hakim Hill plunged two yards for the Argos' first touchdown after Allen set it up with a 32-yard pass to Tony Miles. Brown scooped up the high snap on the 14 yard line en route to the end zone and R. Jay Soward gathered in a nine-yard pass from Allen.
Prefontaine had a single and three converts.
The Lions' defence also responded with a season-high eight sacks - three by Brent Johnson - while the offensive line allowed four.
"It was way closer than it should have been," Johnson said. "We came out in the second half and choked but that's going to happen some times and we sucked it up."
Allen, who turns 42 this month, felt the pressure of the defensive rush but completed 26 of 40 passes for 295 yards.
"They did a good job of pressuring the quarterback," said Allen who led Toronto to a last-minute 27-26 win over Saskatchewan last week.
"They were getting upfield and not allowing me to get containment. Obviously we didn't do a good job as a unit of helping our O-linemen."
He said the wild fininshes are simply part of CFL football.
"It was the same situation last week for us but this time we didn't come through," said Allen who is 3-3 against the Lions since he was traded to Toronto three years ago.
Toronto coach Mike Clemons said turnovers were costly.
"We're making too many mistakes to beat good football teams consistently," he said. "The challenge is we're having too many turnovers ... to have consistent success. We had enough offence to be productive."
Notes: Chris Hoople of the Lions suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first half and did not return ... the Argos arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday, a day earlier than usual ... Toronto running back John Avery stayed home to nurse a groin injury ... Canadian linebacker Ray Mariusz made his first CFL start for the Grey Cup champs ... linebacker Carl Kidd and offensive lineman Bobby Singh were activated from the injury list by the Lions ... the game matched the CFL's top two passing offences.