Around The CFL: Ticats best Winnipeg, but can they beat Calgary?

By: Andrew Bucholtz

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Here’s a look at the past week’s CFL action and the upcoming games:

Hamilton 30, Winnipeg 13: The Tiger-Cats bounced back from a disappointing 43-35 overtime loss to Toronto with an impressive win over the Blue Bombers. Hamilton was 3-10 heading into this one, but 3-2 over their last five games, while Winnipeg was 10-3 and on a three-game winning streak. The big key to victory for the Ticats was the play of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who had perhaps his best game in a Hamilton uniform, completing 27 of 33 passes (81.8 per cent) for 338 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and rushing eight times for 48 yards (6.0 yards per carry), but they also received important contributions from running back Alex Green, who had 97 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (4.8 yards per carry).The Ticats’ defence also stood strong, holding Winnipeg quarterback Matt Nichols to 158 passing yards and running back Andrew Harris to 26 rushing yards.

Ottawa 30, B.C. 25: The other East over West win this week came from the 5-9-1 Redblacks downing the 7-8 Lions. Quarterback Trevor Harris had an outstanding showing for Ottawa, throwing for 380 yards and three touchdowns with a 73.7 per cent completion mark, and that was a huge boost up over the 164 yards and 54.8 per cent completion rate they got from Ryan Lindley in a 18-17 loss to Saskatchewan last week. Harris showed particularly strong chemistry with receiver Greg Ellingson, who had seven catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. For B.C., quarterback Jon Jennings threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns with an interception and a 65.0 per cent completion rate, and linebacker Solomon Elimimian had 13 tackles, but it wasn’t enough.

Saskatchewan 27, Toronto 24: The big story in this one was how Roughriders head coach Chris Jones pulled veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn after he started with three completions for 29 yards on eight attempts. Canadian pivot Brandon Bridge stepped in, and he had a great performance, completing 20 of 28 passes (71.4 per cent) for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Saskatchewan also got a nice rushing performance from Canadian Kienan LaFrance, who collected 38 yards on six carries; high-profile acquisition Trent Richardson only had 20 yards on five carries, so it wasn’t an overwhelmingly-impressive showing from him. As for the Argos, they got nice outings from Ricky Ray (341 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception, a 74.4 per cent completion mark) and James Wilder (13 carries for 72 yards), but weren’t able to generate enough points. Toronto fell to 7-8, but still leads the East, while Saskatchewan improved to 8-6, tied for third in the West.

Edmonton 42, Montreal 24: This one officially eliminated the 3-12 Alouettes from playoff contention, and it showed there are still plenty of issues in Montreal even after the midseason firing of head coach Jacques Chapdelaine. It also snapped the Eskimos’ six-game losing skid and improved their record to 8-6, tied with the Roughriders for third in the West. Two big plays for Edmonton came on defense thanks to an interception from Da’Quan Bowers and a 70-yard pick-six from Chris Edwards. The Eskimos also got a solid rushing showing from new acquisition C.J. Gable, who collected 111 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, and that helped them overcome a less-than-dominant performance from quarterback Mike Reilly, who only completed 13 of 29 passes (44.8 per cent). Reilly did connect on some big passes, though, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and regularly finding Brandon Zylstra, who had seven catches for 201 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Alouettes’ quarterback Drew Willy struggled again, completing 19 of 29 passes (65.5 per cent), but throwing for just 193 yards with the two interceptions.

Looking ahead: Hamilton travels to face the league-leading Calgary Stampeders (12-1-1) this Friday, and that doesn’t look like a great matchup for them. The Stampeders are coming off a bye and have been the league’s most dominant team this year, while the Tiger-Cats only have four wins. However, Hamilton is coming off that nice win over second-in-the-West Winnipeg, so maybe they have a chance, especially if Masoli has another good game. Elsewhere, 6-9-1 Ottawa will look to push for first in the East against 8-6 Saskatchewan in Friday’s late game, and a good showing from Harris might help them there. The Redblacks only lost by one to the Roughriders last week, and that was with Lindley under centre; Harris should help them more. On Saturday, 6-8 B.C. will try for a road win against 10-4 Winnipeg; the Bombers should be favored there, but they’ll have to play better than they did against the Ticats this week. And 8-6 Edmonton hosts 7-8 Toronto in Saturday’s late game; the Eskimos have finally snapped that losing skid, and they could use another win to bolster their playoff position, but the Argos will also be eager to get a victory to keep first in the East.