The CFL season has officially begun and the road to the 106th Grey Cup in Edmonton has officially started. Week 1 had some close games, and also included one historic game as we saw the longest game in CFL history take place.

Throughout the 2018 CFL season, we’ll be recapping all the weekly games on Win Column Sports.

The Ottawa Redblacks pulled the unfortunate Week 1 bye.

Week 1

Edmonton Eskimos – 33

Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 30

In what went down as a historic opener for the 2018 CFL regular season, the Eskimos and Blue Bombers participated in the longest regular-season CFL game in history as they were treated to two lightning delays which combined for a 2 hour and 55-minute delay.

The game started off well for the Eskimos as Mike Reilly connected with Derel Walker early in the 1st quarter (11:56) for a 101 yard TD. Sean Whyte would convert the extra point and the Eskimos would go up 7-0.

Just over a minute later, rookie QB Chris Streveler would throw the ball away to J.C Sherritt. The Eskimos would get the ball back, but weren’t able to convert it into a touchdown and would settle with a 52 yard Sean Whyte field goal, putting them up 10-0.

However, with 6:11 remaining in the first quarter Streveler would connect with his first CFL touchdown. The rookie, who became the first QB straight out of college to start in a CFL game since Anthony Calvillo, would find Weston Dressler on a 16-yard throw for the score. Justin Medlock would convert the extra point. 10-7 Edmonton.

The Eskimos would drive down the field to end the quarter, capping the driving off with a Mike Reilly QB sneak to put the Eskimos up 17-7.

With roughly 9 minutes left in the second quarter, we’d have our first lightning delay of the game. The first delay would last an hour and 24 minutes. With 6:46 left in the second after play resumed Justin Medlock would run through the back of the end zone, conceding a safety to the Eskimos putting them up 19-7.

Chris Streveler would find Darvin Adams with 1:39 left in the first half on a 23-yard strike. Medlock would convert bringing the score to 19-14 in favour of the Eskimos.

The first half would finish with a bang as Sean Whyte would attempt a 45-yard field goal, which would miss wide right.

Then this happened.

Kevin Fogg would return the missed kick 110 yards for a TD. Streveler would throw an INT on the attempted two-point conversion, but Winnipeg would grab the lead 20-19 heading into the second half.

Streveler would connect with Drew Wolitarsky early on in the second half for a 20-yard TD putting the Bombers up 27-19.

Eventually, Mike Reilly would punch it in from the one-yard line with 1:22 remaining. The Eskimos would convert the two-point conversion and tie the game.

After a quick two and out by Winnipeg, the Eskimos would get the ball back at the Bombers 53-yard line. Eventually, this sets up Sean Whyte for the 44-yard attempt to win the game.

Player of the Game: Mike Reilly. 32/46, 408 Yards. 1 TD. 1 INT. 2 Rushing TD’s.

Toronto Argonauts -19

Saskatchewan Roughriders – 27

An Eastern Conference Final rematch was tasked with following the longest game in CFL history, as the defending Grey Cup Champion Toronto Argonauts took on the Saskatchewan Roughriders at new Mosaic Field.

Both teams looked to answer some offseason questions heading into their first game of 2018. For the Argos, how would they fare after resting most of their veteran players through the pre-season? How productive would James Wilder be now that the league has gotten a solid taste of what he brings to the field?

On the other hand, Saskatchewan was curious about what they were going to get out of newly acquired quarterback Zach Collaros. Will the defence be as dominant as it looked at times last year? What impact will Charleston Hughes have since coming over in a double-trade from Calgary and Hamilton?

The latter question was answered quickly in the first half. Hughes registered three sacks in the first half alone, showing the dominance he has been producing for the last 10 years.

The Riders then answered their second question on that list. The defence showed up strong all game with a little bend late but no break, pressuring Ricky Ray all game and doing a great job keeping the play in front of them while holding Wilder to just 16 yards on the ground and 68 through the air on four catches.

The game started out slow with both defences standing tall early and each team trading single points. With Tyler Crapigna going down with a season-ending leg injury in the off-season, 27-year old Brett Lauther stepped in for the Riders going 4 for 5 on the day. He missed his first attempt, a 32-yarder resulting in the single point.

After one of Hughes’ sacks – his 100th of his career – the Riders took the ball back and added three points. Lauther would make his second attempt, a 45-yard field goal for the 4-1 SSK lead.

Chris Jones then showed some gutsy play-calling on the next drive. On 3rd and 3, the Riders decided to leave the offence on the field. Collaros took the snap and aired it out hitting Caleb Holley for a 34-yard gain. Holley showed great route running, adjusting to the ball in coverage to come up with the big conversion.

On the ensuing drive, Collaros would sit in the pocket and fire the ball over the middle in tight coverage to Naaman Roosevelt for a 13-yard touchdown and an 11-1 lead. A beautiful pass for Collaros’ first touchdown as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

With just over two minutes left in the first half, the Riders would add to their lead. Lauther would kick a 43-yard field goal to make it 14-1

The Argos looked like they could take some momentum into the second half with a Saskatchewan turnover. Rookie running back Tre Mason came into the game to spell Jerome Messam. After a great 10-yard run, Mason lost the ball on a tackle by Justin Tuggle.

Toronto recovered the fumble with 38 seconds left in the half but after another Hughes sack and a completion short of the first down they were forced to settle for the field goal. Ronald Pfeffer kicked a 35-yarder to cut the lead to 14-4 at the half.

The third quarter was all defence as both teams traded drives ending in no points. With 12 seconds left in the third Saskatchewan would make it a 17-5 game with a 46-yard Lauther field goal.

In the fourth quarter, Ricky Ray looked to do what he does best and stage another late comeback. He started moving the ball down the field and finally found a way to include James Wilder in a big way. He hit Wilder on a deep wheel route for a 46-yard gain taking the ball to the one-yard line.

Two plays later back-up quarterback James Franklin took the ball the rest of the way for the one-yard touchdown cutting the Green and White’s led down to 17-12.

Ray would get the ball back with a little over seven minutes left and it looked like the come-back was still on as he moved the ball down to the SSK 51-yard line.

However, on a throw targeted for SJ Green rookie defensive back, Nick Marshall came up with an interception, returning it 66-yards for the pick 6 and a 24-12 Saskatchewan lead. It looked like there could have some contact made on Green by Ed Gainey on the play, but Marc Trestman opted not to challenge allowing the score to stand as called.

Ricky Ray would lead the double blue back down the field setting up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Franklin to Declan Cross, getting the Argos back into the game at 24-19.

Saskatchewan took the ball back and got some help on a 39-yard pass interference call on Ronnie Yell followed by a big 11-yard run by Jerome Messam setting up Lauther’s final field goal. A 32-yarder for the 27-19 lead and win with 13 seconds left in the game.

The Argos never seemed comfortable in this one and it raises the curious question of whether the time off in the pre-season for some vets cost them in this one. On the other side of the fence, Zach Collaros did exactly what he needed to do. Managed the game and did not turn the ball over. He made a few deep balls and was very efficient and made very few mistakes.

Collaros finished 18/25 for 203 yards and 1 TD. Ray went 22/37 for 233 yards 0 TDs and 1 INT.

Player of the Game: The Saskatchewan Roughrider defense lead by Charleston Hughes and Nick Marshall. Hughes’ three sacks and the pick-six by the rookie DB is what prevented Ricky Ray from doing his job allowing Collaros time to do his.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats  – 14

Calgary Stampeders  – 28

Calgary opened the 2018 CFL season at home following yet another disappointing end to the 2017 campaign. In a game which saw very little action until the fourth, Calgary ended up squeaking out with the win. No, Johnny Manziel did not play in this game.

The Stampeders would go up early in this game with two successful Paredes field goals, and took a 6-0 lead late into the first quarter.

Hamilton would answer back though on a 76-yard pass from Masoli to Mike Jones. Jeremiah Masoli would use that field position to scamper into the end zone for a 13-yard TD.

The Tiger-Cats and Stampeders would trade rouges and field goals in the 2nd quarter and the Ti-Cats would head into the 2nd half with a 11-9 lead.

After a scoreless third quarter, Rene Paredes would open up the fourth with a 19-yard field goal putting the Stampeders up 12-11.

From then on it was all Stampeders. Kamar Jorden would bring in a 15-yard Bo Levi Mitchell pass, and the team would convert on the two-point conversion putting them up 20-11.

Lirim Hajrullahu would put through a 43-yard field goal to bring the Ti-Cats within a TD, but that’s as close as they’d get.

Calgary would seal the deal with 1:08 remaining in the fourth quarter off a 44-yard Don Jackson rushing TD.

Player of the Game: Brandon Smith: 4 tackles. 1 sack. 1 interception.

Montreal Alouettes  – 10

B.C. Lions  – 22

The last game of Week 1 featured a head coach considered a living legend in the CFL take on another with a tonne of experience, but coaching in his first season in Canada. The B.C. Lions, led by Wally Buono took on the Montreal Alouettes, coached by Mike Sherman.

The question coming into the year for both teams was this: what exactly can we expect?

You can always expect a team like B.C coached by Buono to show up and compete hard. However, with this being his last year of coaching the added effect of the team wanting to win for Wally has been instilled. Add to that the hiring of Ed Hervey as GM to replace the role dropped by Buono and the fact that Jonathan Jennings is out of excuses to finally lead this team to the promise land creates a pot full of expectation and wonder.

For Montreal the expectations may not be as high with newly hired coach Mike Sherman coming out of retirement from coaching in the U.S. After spending the last 29 years coaching between the NFL and NCAA – most notably being the head coach of the Green Bay Packers – no one really knows what to expect in his CFL debut. Add that to the questions the team has at pretty much every position and it’s curious what to expect from the Als.

The first quarter started out slow with both teams feeling each other out, trading three and outs. With a little over seven minutes left in the first Montreal would strike. Drew Willy would throw a 56-yard bomb to new Alouette Chris Williams and the speedster took it all the way to…the one-yard line before fumbling the ball into the end zone. Luckily for him teammate Eugene Lewis was near by to pounce on the fumble and score the TD for the 7-0 lead.

The Lions would answer the scoring drive by Montreal on their next attempt. Jennings marched the offence down the field before hitting Shaq Johnson for the 35-yard touchdown strike tying the game at 7.

Still in the first quarter, Willy showed he has the potential to air the ball out more. He hit Ernest Jackson on a 54-yard strike down the sideline. Following the big play Odell Willis would earn his first sack as a Lion on 2nd and 7.

The sack led to a 30-yard field goal by Boris Bede and a 10-7 Montreal lead.

B.C. would take the lead in the third quarter. After two single points and a 27-yard field goal by Ty Long the Lions would take a 12-10 lead and a nice 24-yard punt return by Chris Rainey into the final quarter.

The return and a 13-yard completion from Jennings to Manny Arceneaux set up another Ty Long field goal attempt, a 30-yarder to open the fourth and a 15-10 B.C. lead.

With just over eight minutes left in the game Drew Willy would throw an interception to Gary Peters from the Montreal 38-yard line. This would lead to a nice 16-yard run by Jennings; the team would then throw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Corey Watson for the 22-10 lead and win.

The Lions looked good in their season opener. Jonathan Jennings had an outstanding game leading the team to victory behind a Lions defense that dominated. The Lions totalled five sacks on Willy and kept pressure high on him all game, especially late when it mattered most.

The Alouettes showed more promise than expected in this one. Especially early with Willy airing the ball out with efficiency. They outgained the Lions through the air putting up 281 yards to B. C’s 183. The running game for Montreal however wasn’t there with only 78 yards on the ground. The defense had a decent game totalling two sacks on Jennings but couldn’t hold up late especially with little help from the O.

One highlight from the game, heard but not seen was Lions’ DB Marcell Young laying out a crushing hit on a streaking fan midway through the first quarter. It was a hit that would definitely cause anyone to rethink the idea of trying to run onto a football field in the future.

Player of the Game: Jonathan Jennings. Jennings was the definition of efficient in this one going 20/24 for 183-yards through the air with 2 TDs and 0 INTs. He even put up 57-yards on the ground leading the team in rushing and to victory in the later half of the game.
CFL Week 1 Recap

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