Canadian Football League

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Re-match of Canadian Football League giants goes to Alouettes

With Anthony Calvillo under centre, the Montreal Alouettes are one of the CFL's top passing teams. With Robert Edwards in the backfield, they're not bad running the football either.
Edwards rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown - his second straight 100-yard game - as Montreal defeated the Toronto Argonauts 18-10 on Friday night before a Rogers Centre gathering of 31,621.
''The offensive line is doing a great job of opening holes,'' Edwards said modestly. ''I'm just trying to take advantage by making the (first) guy miss, break tackles and get yards.''
Edwards earned his first CFL start last week with Eric Lapointe recovering from a hamstring injury. And the former first-round pick of the New England Patriots responded by rushing for 147 yards on 13 carries in the Alouettes'42-13 victory over Saskatchewan.

Edwards got off to a stellar start Friday night, running for 59 yards in the first quarter alone as the Alouettes finished the opening period with 25 offensive plays, compared to just five for Toronto.

''The coaches say the run is there,'' said Calvillo, who finished 22-of-32 passing for 223 yards. ''As long as we can keep walking away with victories we're going to keep feeding the guy the ball.''
Montreal (4-3) moved into a second-place tie with Toronto (4-3) in the East Division standings behind front-running Ottawa (5-3). The Alouettes also tied the season series 1-1, with the two teams meeting again Oct. 22 at Olympic Stadium. The Argos won the opener, 36-24 at Molson Stadium on July 28.
But Toronto quarterback Damon Allen nearly tarnished Edwards' performance.
Allen didn't start as he's nursing a bone bruise but replaced an ineffective Michael Bishop to open the third. He promptly led the Argos to a field goal before hitting Arland Bruce III on a 27-yard TD at 10:01 to cut Montreal's lead to 15-10.
Bishop had few answers for the Alouettes' swarming defence, completing 6-of-11 passes for 41 yards and an interception.
Allen had the fans on their feet in the dying seconds, moving the Argos to Montreal's 32-yard line with 14 seconds remaining but couldn't come up with the tying touchdown. Allen finished 21-of-30 passing for 246 yards with a TD and an interception.
The contest was the fourth straight that the Argos have drawn 25,000-plus spectators, the first time that's happened since '91.
''I was disappointed we felt we had to go to Damon,'' said Toronto coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons. ''I felt (Bishop) could've done it in the second half but Damon has the set of skills that gives us the best chance of winning.
''This is a veteran team that knows how to adjust when Damon comes in.''
Allen certainly had the Alouettes sweating.
''Obviously he is a great quarterback and has beat us before,'' said Montreal defensive tackle Ed Philion. ''I think the fact he came in hurt in the second half gave them a spark and once we got our footing down we played a little better.
''It's good to send a message because we've lost two times in a row (including last year's East final) to this team and three times seems to be a trend. It was important for us to come into their place and return the favour.''
Montreal forced four Argos turnovers - two interceptions, a fumble and on downs - and registered three sacks, clear signs the Alouettes rugged defence is finding its stride after being plagued by early inconsistency.
''I don't think we really knew our identity,'' Philion said of the early struggles. ''Finally, now we're all on the same page in what we want to do as a defence.
''It makes it a lot easier for us but it's still early in the season. We've got to take it for what it's worth, it's game No. 7.''
Montreal finished minus kicker-punter Damon Duval, who was ejected with Toronto's Mike Crumb in the fourth for an altercation while covering an Argos kickoff return. Slotback Dave Stalla handled punting duties - averaging 40 yards on two boots - and also had eight catches for 103 yards.
''I'm not surprised because Dave has been doing that every week for us, filling in at different spots,'' said Calvillo. ''He's a pretty good athlete.''
Montreal coach Don Matthews merely shrugged his shoulders when asked about Edwards and Stalla stepping up Friday.
''That's exactly what they're supposed to do,'' he said.
Duval had a convert, three field goals and two singles.
Toronto's Noel Prefontaine booted a convert and two field goals.
Notes - Linebacker Antonious Bonner returned to Toronto's lineup after missing five games with back spasms . . . With all-star slotback Ben Cahoon out with a fractured wrist and elbow, Stalla took his place in the Alouettes' starting lineup . . . Montreal lost offensive lineman Paul Lambert to a thigh contusion and knee injury. Matthews figures Lambert will be out at least one game, meaning Dave Mudge, acquired last month from Winnipeg, will move into the starting lineup now.

Gades move into first place in Canadian Football League East

The Ottawa Renegades aren't letting a surprisingly good first half of the season go to their heads.
Kerry Joseph threw one touchdown pass and ran for two others as the Renegades came from behind to defeat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 22-17 on Thursday night.
The victory moved Ottawa (5-3) into first place in the CFL's East Division and matched its entire win total from last season.
"We've just got to stay humble and keep playing football," Joseph said. "We can't put any added pressure on ourselves. We know each week everybody's going to be coming out to win a football game and wins are hard to come by in this league."
After Korey Banks intercepted Saskatchewan quarterback Marcus Crandell's pass and returned the ball 26 yards, Joseph ran three times to give the Renegades the lead with just over three minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

His first run covered 16 yards and was followed by a four-yard scamper. Using a shovel pass as a decoy, Joseph then ran 10 yards into the end zone and following Matt Kellett's convert the Renegades had a 22-17 lead with 3:18 to go.
"Korey's been playing well for us out there on defence along with the other guys and he always seems to get around the football," Joseph said of Banks' interception. "He made the play at the right time and we were able to capitalize."
With less than two minutes remaining, Bo Rogers intercepted Crandell and the Renegades had an opportunity to put the finishing touches on the victory. Crandell, however, got one more opportunity but failed to complete a third-down pass into the Ottawa end zone in the dying seconds.
"We had an opportunity at the end of the game," said Roughriders coach Danny Barrett, whose club has lost four in a row. "It's all you can ever ask for is an opportunity. We need to be able to capitalize though, and that's the bottom line. There's no moral victories when you're in the situation we're at. We had a chance to get one and we didn't."
Crandell entered the game to start the second half when starter Nealon Greene was unable to continue due to a stiff neck.
Joseph completed three straight passes to start the game and capped a 75-yard drive with a nine-yard TD pass to Cory Hathaway.
The drive started with a 49-yard completion to Pat Woodcock and was followed up by a 17-yard reception by Yo Murphy.
"We talked all week about getting started fast and were able to do that. We kind of hit a lull during the game and slowed down a little bit," Joseph said. "We've just got to keep that pressure on and keep them off balance a little better."
The Roughriders (3-5) got their first points of the game when Ottawa kicker Pat Fleming conceded a safety at 10:42 of the opening quarter instead of punting from his own end zone.
Both Greene and Joseph had short TD runs in the second quarter as the Renegades led 14-9 at the break. Greene scored from one yard out, while Joseph ran it in from four yards away.
The Ottawa defence had been very stingy up until that point, allowing Saskatchewan to gain very few yards. The scoring drive for the Roughriders was aided by penalties as Kai Ellis took a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call and was also flagged for roughing the passer.
Crandell capped an 11-play, 64-yard drive with a six-yard TD pass to Travis Moore 9:30 into the quarter that put Saskatchewan up 16-14.
The Renegades were looking to regain the lead in the dying seconds of the third, but Kellett was wide on a 35-yard field goal attempt and settled for a 46-yard single.
The Renegades are in Winnipeg next Friday, while the Roughriders have a bye next week.
"We've got a break coming up that's sorely needed, right after our Winnipeg game," said Renegades coach Joe Paopao. "We've got to get to Winnipeg and stay after it. It's a cliche but that's what it is."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Gades suspend veteran Canadian Football League player

Defensive end Ray Jacobs was suspended indefinitely by the Ottawa Renegades yesterday for what general manager and head coach Joe Paopao called "actions detrimental to the team."
Jacobs attended practice on Monday, but was not present at Frank Clair Stadium yesterday. His absence means the Renegades will be forced to start Johnny Scott out of position at end. Scott, a 12-year veteran playing his first game this season, is normally a tackle.
"I don't know enough about what transpired, but it was an action I had to take to get this club focused," Paopao said. "I have to be up front with you: (Jacobs) isn't even on my radar this week."
Jacobs' history of off-field trouble is long.
In 2004, he was arrested near a known crack house mere blocks from the B.C. Lions' practice facility. Traces of cocaine were found in the car, but charges were never laid.
In 2002, while with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Jacobs missed a team flight to a playoff game. A year later, he admitted to alcohol abuse. A committee of Roughriders teammates deemed him too disruptive, which led the organization to trade him.
In training camp this year, Jacobs said he was still sorting out child-support payments with a Calgary woman with whom he had a relationship while with the Stampeders.
For the Renegades, the timing of Jacobs' latest misstep couldn't be worse. They're coming off consecutive road wins and first place in the CFL's East Division is at stake when they face the Roughriders tomorrow night.
Paopao has never been known as a disciplinarian, suggesting this was not a minor incident in his eyes. Only one player -- tailback Darren Davis in 2003 -- has ever been suspended in Paopao's four years with the Renegades.
Paopao learned of Jacobs' situation just before practice yesterday. That forced a scramble on defence, with Scott shifting to end just hours before the club's roster was to be set.
"I think Johnny is as good a player, and we were looking for a way to get him on the roster," Paopao said. "We'll figure something out."
When Paopao was asked whether Jacobs, 32, would return this season, he said he wanted more time to think about it. He did admit that director of U.S. scouting John Jenkins had defensive ends and middle linebackers high on the priority list during his ongoing tour of NFL training camps.
Jacobs' situation only heightens the need for bodies at those positions. As of today, the Renegades have just two healthy ends: Anthony Collier and Kai Ellis.
Ellis is being moved to middle linebacker this week, where he will start in place of Jason Kralt. Regular middle man Keaton Cromartie will have season-ending knee surgery tomorrow.
Scott, who played some end with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2003, and young Canadian Matt Kirk are the only other options at defensive end. Kralt, rookie Cam Yeow and outside linebacker D'Wayne Taylor could play middle linebacker if needed.
Meanwhile, the team made five other roster moves yesterday
- Kicker Matt Kellett is returning to the lineup, but will not kick off and has limited range of about "37 to 40 (yards) going into the wind," Paopao said. He replaces Ottawa native Mark Irvin, who had kicked in the past two games. Punter Pat Fleming will handle kickoffs.
Ellis takes receiver Frank Cutolo's roster spot. Cutolo is bothered by a bruised thigh, but he has also dropped three passes in the past two games, including two in the end zone. Markus Howell will assume his starting position.
- American Reggie Nelson steps in for guard Morris Unutoa on the offensive line, and will start opposite of Freddie Moore at left tackle. Nelson is returning from his second ankle injury of the season. This will mark the first time Ottawa has started two American tackles.
- Quarterback Brad Banks will be named No. 3 quarterback after recovering from a shoulder injury. Paul Peterson was asked to join the practice roster, but the rookie passer was not at practice yesterday as he mulled over his options.
- Ottawa natives Ibrahim Khan and Darryl Ray will dress in place of Jean-Francois Roy and Martin Gagnon. Khan will serve as the reserve offensive lineman. Ray, a slotback, is playing his first game this season.
Note: Quarterback Kerry Joseph was named CFL offensive player of the week for the second time this season after passing for 340 yards and three touchdowns against Hamilton last Saturday night.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Canadian Football League teams swap receivers

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers swapped wide receivers Tuesday.
The Ticats traded import receiver Chris Brazzell to the Bombers in exchange for non-import receiver Kamau Peterson. Peterson had 15 receptions for 218 yards in seven games for Winnipeg this season. In 68 career CFL games, the six-foot-one, 210-pound Peterson has 192 catches for 2,605 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"This is a league where you need a strong Canadian contingent," Ticats head coach Greg Marshall said in a release. "We believe we are getting a guy with a lot of potential that can be an impact player for us. Peterson has a lot of speed and can be a big play receiver."
The six-foot-two, 199-pound Brazzell had 22 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns in six games for Hamilton this season.
Brazzell, in his fifth CFL season, was a standout with the B.C. Lions before joining the Ticats as a free agent this past February. In 2004, he had 49 catches for 906 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games with the Lions.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Hamilton still winless in Canadian Football League

Kerry Joseph threw a pair of touchdown passes, Yo Murphy ran for one, and the Ottawa Renegades rolled past the winless Hamilton Tiger Cats, 28-12, on Saturday.

Ottawa (4-3) took a 1-0 lead in the first quarter with a 30-yard single by Mark Irvin, but Hamilton quickly responded with a 34-yard field goal by Jamie Boreham with 3:08 left in the first quarter.
The Renegades put up a 41-yard single early in the second period to pull within a point, but late in the quarter, the Ti-Cats (0-6) extended their lead to 5-2 with a safety when Irvin conceded in the end zone.
Ottawa eventually tied it as the first half expired when Irvin came through with a 22-yard field goal.
Joseph connected with Cory Hathaway for a seven-yard touchdown with 10:43 left in the third quarter to put the Renegades ahead 12-5.
Just over four minutes later, Joseph added to the lead as he found Jason Armstead for a huge 69-yard TD that made it a 14-point contest.
Hamilton closed the gap to 19-12 on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Brady to Julian Radlein with 3:56 left in the third.
Ottawa, though, got a safety in the fourth quarter when Boreham conceded in end zone, making it 21-12 and Murphy put another TD on the board for the Renegades with a 24-yard run with 8:34 remaining.

Bombers remain last in Canadian Football League West

Anthony Malbrough had a feeling he was going pick off at least one pass on Saturday.
"I told some guys before the game, I said 'I'm going to get a pick today'," said the Calgary defensive back, who had a pair of interceptions in the Stampeders' 30-21 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in front of 30,128 fans at McMahon Stadium. "I said, 'I don't know how many, but I will get one'."
Malbrough picked off starting Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn in the first quarter and then intercepted backup Blue Bombers quarterback Tee Martin in the third. The Stampeder offence turned both turnovers into touchdowns on their way to victory.
On his first big play, Malbrough intercepted the ball at the Winnipeg 24-yard line and immediately had his sights set on the end zone.
"I was looking at it the whole way," Malbrough said. "I wasn't even really looking at (any) of the guys who were chasing me, I was looking straight at the end zone. I wanted to try to dive, but I thought I was going to fall short so I didn't even try."
He commended running back Joffrey Reynolds for rambling the remaining four yards across the goal line to give the Stamps an early 7-1 lead.
"Anything for the team helps," Malbrough said.
Calgary defensive back Lawrence Deck, who replaced injured half back Joey Boese, also had an interception in the third quarter which the Stamps turned into another touchdown.
"Deck came in and did a very nice job," said Stampeder head coach Tom Higgins. "In order for us to be a good football team, we've got to start creating turnovers and this is a good start for us."
Stamps quarterback Henry Burris completed 15 of 25 passes and tossed touchdown strikes to Nik Lewis and Jeremaine Copeland.
"Tonight was just the night of big plays," Burris said. "It wasn't the prettiest game."
With the victory Calgary improved to 3-3, while Winnipeg dropped to 1-6.
"Calgary handled us offensively and defensively," said Winnipeg coach Jim Daley. "It was a very disappointing performance. We never sustained any drives."
Kickers accounted for all of Winnipeg's scoring through three quarters as Troy Westwood had two field goals and a single, while Jon Ryan booted a single. With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, third-string quarterback Russ Michna tossed TD passes to Milt Stegall and Keith Stokes.
On their first possession of the game, the Bombers drove deep into Stamps territory but managed just a single point after Westwood missed a 31-yard field goal.
After Reynolds crossed the goal line, Sandro DeAngelis kicked a 45-yard field goal to give Calgary a 10-1 lead.
Westwood and DeAngelis traded field goals in the second quarter, which featured a number of miscues by both teams.
Burris fumbled the ball and threw an interception, but Winnipeg was unable to capitalize on either turnover with Martin in at quarterback to replace Glenn, who was injured as a result of a hit he took in the first quarter.
Just before halftime, Malbrough picked off Martin at mid-field and ran it back 24 yards to the Winnipeg 42-yard line. Two plays later, Burris threw a 17-yard strike to Lewis for the receiver's second TD of the season to give Calgary a 20-5 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, John Grace tackled Winnipeg running back Charles Roberts in the end zone for a safety before Westwood kicked his second field goal of the game.
Late in the quarter, Deck picked off Martin and two plays later Burris fired a perfect pass downfield to Copeland who ran across the goal line for a 61-yard score.
"Big plays are what we're all about and we finally made some," Copeland said. "I really think we had that killer instinct right from the get-go."
DeAngelis rounded out Calgary's scoring with a single late in the game after he missed a 24-yard field goal.
In the fourth quarter, Michna replaced Martin at QB and threw a four-yard TD strike to Stegall and a 33-yarder to Stokes.
Jason Gesser replaced Burris in the fourth, but couldn't build upon Calgary's lead.
Stampeder offensive lineman Jamie Crysdale's consecutive regular season games played streak come to an end at 210. Crysdale was forced to the sidelines with a knee injury. He recently passed Saskatchewan's Donald Narcisse (208) and moved into 11th place all-time in CFL history in consecutive games played.
Godfrey Ellis replaced Crysdale in the lineup and drew rave reviews from Higgins.
"There was a brand new centre in there that hasn't played a lot and I thought he held his own," Higgins said.
Notes: Former Stamps Joe Fleming, Scott Regimbald and Wes Lysack returned to play at McMahon Stadium for the first time since being traded to Winnipeg last October for quarterback Khari Jones and fullback Randy Bowles, neither of whom are with the Stamps anymore.