Canadian Football League

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cats signed new Canadian Football League QB

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed quarterback Kevin Eakin to a practice roster agreement Wednesday.
Eakin, a six-foot, 219-pound import, completed 105 of his 180 pass attempts for the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe last season. Eakin, 24, finished with 1,299 passing yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games.
"We believe that Kevin possesses many of the qualities needed to be a successful quarterback in this league," Ticats head coach Greg Marshall said in a release. "He's got a great arm, quick feet and strong leadership abilities."
Eakin attended training camp with the New York Jets and was one of the team's final cuts earlier this month.
Also Wednesday, the Ticats announced that import receiver Hugh Smith and import linebacker Tony White have been released.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Canadian Football League players of the week

B.C. Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson highlighted the list of CFL Players of the Week Tuesday after his impressive effort in Week 13 action.
Dickenson, the offensive player of the week, completed 27-of-36 attempts for 314 yards with three touchdowns for the Lions, who edged Montreal 27-26. He currently has the highest passer rating in the league at 124.1 and is leading B.C. to a possible undefeated season. The Lions are 11-0 and leading the Western Conference comfortably.
The defensive player of the week is Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Omarr Morgan. He helped the Roughriders to a 37-36 win over Edmonton, making three tackles and returning his lone interception for a touchdown that gave his club the lead.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end Gavin Walls was named the lineman of the week. Walls also returned an interception for a TD as Winnipeg defeated Ottawa 37-21.
Special teams player of the week is Terrence Wilkins of the Calgary Stampeders. Wilkins returned eight punts for 80 yards and two kickoffs for 62 yards in Calgary's 39-17 win over Hamilton.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Riders in three-way battle in Canadian Football League West

Omarr Morgan was sick of hearing about how his team could only beat the CFL's basement dwellers. On Sunday he did something about it.
Morgan, who started the Roughriders' fourth-quarter comeback from a nine-point deficit with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown, blocked Hayden Epstein's 31-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game as Saskatchewan beat the Edmonton Eskimos 37-36.
Morgan dashed untouched around the left side of the Eskimos' blockers and got his arms on the ball with a headlong dive.
"I've blocked kicks before," Morgan said. "But this time, with the game-winning field goal on the line and no seconds left on the clock, is the biggest ever in my life. It's such a great feeling right now that I can't explain it. I'm very happy.
"The media had been saying all week that we had beaten only Hamilton and Winnipeg, arguably the two worst teams in the league, and that we wouldn't beat Edmonton at home. We had a lot of confidence going into this game and we backed it up."
Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray had marched the Eskimos 46 yards to the Roughriders' 24 on the final drive but used up most of the last minute putting the ball in the middle of the field for Epstein's kick rather than go for the end zone. He said there was no consideration given to going for a touchdown.
"No, we felt we got it into a pretty good position there and we were playing for the field goal to win the game," Ray said.
Saskatchewan claimed its third straight victory and remained in a third-place tie in the West Division with the Calgary Stampeders, both with 6-6 records. Edmonton is in second place at 7-5.
The result means the West Division could hold four playoff berths. Should the West's fourth-place team finish the season with a superior record than the East Division's third-place team, the East will be reduced to two playoff participants.
The Montreal Alouettes (5-6) and Ottawa Renegades (5-7) share second place in the East.
The game featured several big plays and shifts in momentum. Saskatchewan led 10-1 and 24-16 after the first two quarters but the Eskimos had a 33-24 edge after 45 minutes.
"For the most part, we played well except for a couple of plays here and there," Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia said. "I'm proud of the way we battled back in an environment that's difficult to play in."
Ray became the first quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 yards this season, completing 31 of 45 passes for 346 yards despite a lacklustre first half in which he managed only 90 yards passing. He completed his first 11 attempts of the third quarter and finished with three touchdown passes of 11 yards to Ron McClendon, 17 yards to Trevor Gaylor and 49 yards to Derrell Mitchell. Ray's season passing total now stands at 4,133 yards.
"He's one off the best quarterbacks in the league," Morgan said of Ray. "You can only hold him down for so long. He's going to make some plays. We're not worried about that. We made enough plays to win

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rookie Canadian Football League QB leads Stamps to victory

A little patience went a long way for Calgary Stampeders coach Tom Higgins on Saturday night.
After watching rookie quarterback Jason Gesser complete just two-of-12 passes for 22 yards with two interceptions against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Higgins seriously considered going with Danny Wimprine in an attempt to erase a 17-7 half-time deficit. But Higgins opted to stick with Gesser heading into the second half.
Gesser rewarded Higgins with three second-half touchdown passes to lead Calgary to a 39-17 victory before an Ivor Wynne Stadium gathering of 27,821, many of whom came to see the pro debut of Hamilton running back Jesse Lumsden.
"I've been criticized for being overly patient," Higgins said. "But we felt we'd give Jason another series, another few series and it paid dividends for us.
"We want to show confidence in him so that's why at halftime we said, 'OK, let's see how you do. He got into a nice groove in the second half."

Did he ever, considering Gesser finished 12-of-24 passing for 214 yards. Gesser had four interceptions but was bailed out by a Calgary defence that forced six turnovers and returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Gesser started in place of incumbent Henry Burris, who underwent thumb surgery last week. After a horrendous first half, Gesser found Nik Lewis on a 43-yard TD strike in the third before hitting Ken-Yon Rambo with a 19-yard touchdown at 2:56 of the fourth, staking Calgary (6-6) to a 25-17 lead. Gesser cemented the Stampeders' second straight win with a 10-yard TD strike to Martay Jenkins at 8:21, a drive helped by a sensational diving, one-handed catch by Jeremaine Copeland.
"I was really down in the first half," said Gesser. "I wasn't confident in myself and my decisions.
"I was playing not to screw up rather than playing to make plays. I was second-guessing a lot of throws I was making."
The Ivor Wynne Stadium faithful barely got settled into their seats before they were back on their feet again when Lumsden took the opening kickoff 20 yards. There was a buzz in the stands as Lumsden, Hamilton's 2005 first-round pick who signed last week after being released by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, took to the field.
The six-foot-two, 228-pound Lumsden, a native of Burlington, Ont., who won the Hec Crighton Trophy last year at McMaster University, wore his usual No. 28 and played exclusively on special teams. He returned three kickoffs for 77 yards, fumbled another but recovered it for an 11-yard gain, and also covered punts and kickoffs.
Lumsden brought fans to their feet midway through the third after Calgary cut Hamilton's lead to 17-15. Lumsden took the kickoff 37 yards, capping the run by lowering his head and bulling over Stampeders kicker Sandro DeAngelis.
A play later, Trey Young intercepted Hamilton's Khari Jones, setting up DeAngelis's 39-yard field goal for an 18-17 Calgary lead. Jones replaced Ticats starter Danny McManus in the first when he was levelled giving up an interception to John Grace, who returned it four yards for a TD to tie the score 7-7.
"It's nice to finally be back into a routine but it would've been nicer to come out with the win," said Lumsden. "I wasn't nervous even though I didn't sleep well (Friday night) but I don't usually sleep well the night before a game.
"I was very excited to get out there and it felt real good to get that first lick on, catch the ball and get going."
Hamilton (2-10) remains last in the East, its playoff aspirations literally hanging by a thread.
With the Ticats off next week, coach Greg Marshall hinted changes are likely.
"Look at where we are right now and that's not good enough," he said. "I feel bad for the players in there because I know they gave a good effort but the reality is we need to find players . . . and will continue to bring in some players and make some changes to this point.
"We had too many turnovers . . . and we gave Jason Gesser some confidence because we allowed him to play on a short field. If you back a quarterback back up into his own end, he plays a different game. You put him on this side of the mid-line and he'll take some shots and he took them. It really hurt us when Danny went out too because he took the bulk of reps this week."
The loss tarnished a fine debut by Ticats rookie cornerback Jykine Bradley. Brought off the practice roster this week, Bradley intercepted Gesser twice, returning one 71 yards for a touchdown.
Brian Clark, on a 91-yard interception return, had Calgary's other touchdown. DeAngelis had five converts, a field goal and single but missed two field goals.
Dondre Gilliam scored Hamilton's other touchdown. Jamie Boreham added two converts and a field goal.
Notes - In attendance were hundreds of girl guides, who camped out at Brian Timmis Stadium, located beside Ivor Wynne, on Saturday night . . . Interim Ticats GM Rob Katz says the club will begin looking at younger quarterbacks once it's eliminated from playoff contention. In addition to McManus, the club's other quarterbacks are Jones and youngsters Marcus Brady and Jon Beutjer.

Lions perfect Canadian Football League season continues

The B.C. Lions extended their perfect CFL season with a little help from their opponents.
The Montreal Alouettes decided to go for a two-point convert to win Saturday night rather than play for the tie in regulation time, but the play misfired and the Lions are 11-0 to start the season after a 27-26 win.
Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo tried to hit Ben Cahoon in the end zone for the convert with 50 seconds remaining, but the pass was incomplete as Montreal was penalized for an illegal substitution.
"I was trying to win the game," said Montreal coach Don Matthews, whose club hasn't beaten the Lions since Aug. 21, 2000.
"It was very difficult to play offence with the crowd (noise). One play from the five yard line with that much time left, I thought we could get the two points. I thought that was a better chance.
"I called it. I tried to win the game. I thought it was a good call."
Defence and special teams set up three touchdown passes by quarterback Dave Dickenson.
The last one was 16 yards to wideout Jerel Myers to break a 20-20 tie with 2:10 remaining. The catch gave the Lions a club-record 11-0 start to the season.
"Let's give Montreal credit," said Dickenson who threw for more than 300 yards without an interception.
"They played us real well. If we didn't get the turnovers from our defence, we'd have taken it on the chin. Our guys made one more play than they did.
Dickenson said being undefeated is great, "but it's not what we're shooting for.
"If we win this game we know if we go up to Edmonton next week and win there, we're looking real good for the West."
What proved to be the winning drive before 36,066 fans, the largest crowd of the season, was set up by a 45-yard kickoff return by Aaron Lockett.
However, Montreal closed to within a point with 50 seconds remaining when Calvillo fired a three-yard touchdown pass to Dave Stala.
Earlier, Dickenson fired six yards to Geroy Simon after a special teams fumble recovery in the first half and hit Jason Clermont on a three-yard pass for a second TD in the third quarter for a 17-5 lead.
Clermont's touchdown came after the defence gave Dickenson a short field at the Montreal 19 yard line when Tony Tiller stripped the ball from Calvillo and Tyrone Williams recovered it.
Defensive end Brent Johnson said the Lions were fortunate to win but good teams find a way.
"This wasn't in the plans," he said of the Als' failed two-point convert.
"But we're a good team. We let some things happen on defence that we shouldn't have but our offence sucked it up for us.
Calvillo rallied his club with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, the other TD passes going to Cahoon and Terry Vaughn.
Lions kicker Duncan O'Mahony added two field goals, two converts and a single. Montreal got a field goal and two converts from Damon Duval plus a two-point convert and a safety.
The Lions haven't lost in 14 regular-season games dating back to last year, matching the 1954-55 Edmonton Eskimos for second on the CFL's all-time consecutive victories list.
The 1948 Calgary Stampeders had a perfect 12-0 season and won 22 consecutive games over 1948-49.
The win consolidated the Lions hold on first place in the West. They lead the Eskimos by eight points but have two of their final seven games at Commonwealth Stadium.
The loss dropped the inconsistent Alouettes to 5-6, the third time they have been below .500 this season. The Als needed a victory to keep pace with Toronto but trail the East Division-leading Argonauts by four points.
Neither offence could get untracked in the first half with special teams either doing the scoring or setting up the only touchdown of the opening 30 minutes which gave the Lions an 11-2 lead.
Montreal kick returner Ezra Landry had run an O'Mahony punt back 27 yards late in the second quarter when he was hit and stripped of the ball by Otis Floyd.
Lyle Green of the Lions was the last to touch the ball before it went out of bounds, giving B.C. possession near the Montreal 41 yard line, leading to the Simon TD reception.
The Lions opened the scoring in the second minute with a 30-yard O'Mahony field goal also set up by a special teams play.
Aaron Lockett took the opening kickoff 10 yards upfield before flipping the ball to Antonio Warren who completed the 78-yard return.
Notes: Stala, the CFL's leading Canadian receiver, dropped behind SB Cahoon on the Alouettes' depth chart. ... Cahoon returned after missing four games with wrist and elbow injuries. ... Lions QB Casey Printers, the CFL's MVP last season, has made good progress rehabbing his injured shoulder, says coach Wally Buono who reports an increase in his range of motion. ... the Lions aided hurricane Katrina relief with $2 from each walk-up ticket sold, canvassing fans and partial proceeds from a pre-game barbecue.