Don Cherry’s Lovechild reviews a very “special” week three of the CFL season.
Either the kick and punt returners in the CFL have been absolutely outstanding this season, or the kick and punt coverage teams have been dreadfully awful. Personally I think it’s a little bit of both. Through week three, four players have over 500 punt/kick/missed Field Goal return yards. (BC’s Tim Brown, Toronto’s Chad Owens and Winnipeg’s Demond Washington). Larry Taylor leads the league in all-purpose return yds with 758 in three games, and he also ran a missed Field Goal 125 yds for a TD.
Chris Williams of the Hamilton Ti-Cats has two Punt Return TDs and he ran a missed Field Goal back 119 yds for a Touchdown in Hamilton’s recent win against Toronto. On the same day Saskatchewan’s Tristan Jackson returned a missed Field Goal 129 yds for a score. It was the first time a Roughrider scored on a missed field goal in five years. In week two, Winnipeg’s Demond Washington returned a punt 83 yds against Montreal. Tim Brown also ran one back for BC. Toronto’s Chad Owens has almost returned a few punts and kicks for scores. In all, 7 TDs have been scored this year off punts, kicks or missed field goals. How many will be scored this week?
By The Slimmest of Margins: Montreal 33, Calgary, 32
The Calgary Stampeders went into Montreal minus their starting QB Drew Tate. Tate Separated his shoulder in week two and may miss the remainder of the season, as he recently elected to have surgery on it. Kevin Glenn, a longtime CFL Veteran, will replace Tate for the long haul and Brad Sinopoli has also been signed to backup Glenn and second stringer Bo Levi Mitchell. This contest was an exciting one. Calgary got on the board first with a Renny Paredes FG, but Montreal quickly struck back when QB Anthony Calvillo hit Brian Bratton in stride for a 68-yd TD, and they led 13-8 at the half.
In the third, quarter Backup QB Bo Levi Mitchell called for a fake Field Goal and ran for a Stampeders first down. This kept the drive alive and Calgary eventually got down to the Al’s goal line. Mitchell struck again, running it in from two yards out. Mitchell would add another rushing TD later in the game. After a long pass play for Calvillo to Brandon London, Al’s backup QB Adrian McPherson would run one in of his own. Yes that’s the same Adrian McPherson who was a star at Kansas State. John Cornish’s 4-yd TD run made the score 32-20 with just 2:48 to play.
Anthony Calvillo drove Montreal down the field and, eventually, SJ Green scored on a short TD Pass. Calgary’s next possession was a disaster as Kevin Glenn was picked off on a bad throw right into the arms of Al’s DB Jerald Brown. Brown returned the pick deep into Stamps territory, and Patrick Lavoie caught a TD Pass from Calvillo with under a minute remaining. Montreal won 33-32. Brandon London led all receivers with 5 grabs for 106 yds. Amazingly, Calgary held Montreal to just 5 rushing yards in the game! Anthony Calvillo was 23-38 for 325 yds passing and 3 TDs. Kevin Glenn, meanwhile, finished with 267 yds, connecting on 26-36 pass attempts for 0 TDs and that one costly INT.
Worry in Winnipeg: Edmonton 42, Winnipeg, 10
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have some serious issues, and it all revolves around the man who takes the snaps behind Center. Ever since he was acquired by the Bombers, QB Buck Pierce has felt the wrath of opposing defenses. So much so that he has missed large stretches of time the last two seasons. Things are getting worse for Pierce. Winnipeg’s inability to protect the QB has him sidelined again, this time with an injured foot. Pierce started Winnipeg’s third game but tore ligaments and a muscle in his foot and is out indefinitely.
In the fourth quarter, his back up Alex Brink was leveled on a hit by Eskimos Defender JC Sherritt. On the play it looked like Sherritt literally ran through Brink, who was motionless on the turf for nearly a minute and left the game with a head injury. Joey Elliot replaced Brink and immediately threw a 72-yd TD pass to Chris Matthews. This was the lone bright spot for the Blue Bombers, who were throttled by Edmonton 42-10. Edmonton led 35-0 at the half. Winnipeg is now 0-3 on the season, while Edmonton improved to 2-1. Eskimos QB Steven Jyles had a productive, yet some-what inconsistent day. Despite throwing for 272 yds and a TD, Jyles also tossed two picks and was pulled in favor of veteran Kerry Joseph for a few series. Jyles has been pulled at some point in every game so far this season.
Things got heated in the second half, a brawl ensued and three players were ejected for throwing punches. Edmonton DEs Marcus Howard and Julius Williams and Winnipeg Tackle Glenn January got the boot. All players will also probably be fined for their actions. Both teams held each other to fewer than 100 yds rushing. Bombers Receiver Chris Matthews had a monster day with 171 yds receiving on 7 catches and 1 TD. Edmonton has learned that WR Adarius Bowman may miss the rest of the season with a possibly torn ACL and MCL in his left knee.
Battle of the Unbeaten’s: Saskatchewan 23, BC, 20
At the beginning of the season many might have suspected the BC Lions would be undefeated going into week three, but not many people would have thought the Saskatchewan Roughriders would also be 2-0. Even fewer would have picked them to knock off BC in an early season contest. Saskatchewan went just 5-13 last year and were marred by inconsistent play and coaching blunders. This year the Riders brought in Corey Chamblin to be their new head coach. Chamblin, a former NFL QB, has his players believing in his system.
The score was tied at 13 at the half and was 16-13 Riders when returner Tristan Jackson lit a spark and infused a rowdy Riders home crowd by returning a missed FG 129 yds for a TD. A Chris Milo Extra Point made it 23-13. BC would add another TD but it wasn’t enough and Saskatchewan won the battle of the unbeatens 23-20. Riders QB Darian Durant was 18-28 for 172 yds, while BC’s Travis Lulay threw for 345 ids, 2 TDs and 2 INTs in a losing effort, Lulay also ran for 58 yds. Lions receiver Kierrie Johnson had just one reception but it went for 69 yds and a TD. BC falls to 2-1.
A Wild one at Ivor Wynne: Hamilton 36, Toronto, 27
The Hamilton Ti-Cats were looking for their first win of the season in week three. They got it in a 36-27 victory over the Toronto Argonauts at home in Ivor Wynne Stadium. The day belonged to Kick/Punt returner Chris Williams; Williams returned both a punt and a missed field goal for TDs and finished the day with over 200 return ids. He also caught one pass for 34 yds and a TD. This sophomore is in no slump, as he had three TDs in the game. Toronto mounted a few comebacks in this game including a Jarius Jackson 2-yd scamper that made the score 29-13 at the half.
QB Ricky Ray mounted a late comeback for Toronto but threw a costly pick late that sealed the win for Hamilton. Ray was 23-38 232 yds and 1 pick. Ti-Cats QB Henry Burris threw for only 181 ids, but he tossed 3 TDs: one to Williams and the others to Bakary Grant and Andy Fantuz. It was Fantuz’s first TD as a Ti-Cats after a stellar six year career previously in Saskatchewan. Argo’s Kicker Noel Prefontaine was injured in the game and has been placed on the 9-game CFL Injury list. His replacement will be Swayze Waters, that’s right his name is Swayze Waters. The late Actor Patrick Swayze would be proud. Waters spent last year on Edmonton’s practice squad and has been a pre-season or practice squad member for three different NFL clubs (Lions, Steelers, and Raiders).
WEEK 4 Action starts Wednesday Night, all games air live espn3.com
WED July 18: (0-3) Winnipeg At (1-2) Toronto 7:30 PM
THUR July 19: (3-0) Saskatchewan At (1-2) Calgary 9 PM
FRI July 20: (2-1) Edmonton At (2-1) BC 10 PM
SAT July 21: (2-1) Montreal At (1-2) Hamilton 7 PM
Featured image courtesy of: (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)