CFL Week 12 means Labour Day Weekend and rivalry football. The first round of rivalry games didn’t disappoint as for the most part they were all good games that came down to plays in the fourth quarter. Calgary remains dominant as they prove they can win even when they don’t play their best football. Hamilton’s offense explodes in a matchup against Toronto, are they now a threat in the East? Montreal is no longer the laughing stock of the league as they’ve now won two games in a row. Here’s your Week 12 recap.

 

Week 12 Bye:   

 

Montreal (2-9)  – 21

Ottawa (6-3)  – 11

 

Week 12 of the CFL season kicked off with an Eastern Division showdown between the Montreal Alouettes and Ottawa RedBlacks on Friday night. Ottawa was coming into the game after a bye week.

The RedBlacks were on a two-game winning streak before the bye in Week 11. They’ve been the best team in the Eastern Division for most of the year after the Tiger-Cats started to slow down following a hot start.

Trevor Harris has quietly been having a great year throwing for almost 3000 yards and 10 touchdowns leading the RedBlacks to a 6-3 record atop the East before Friday’s game. William Powell has also enjoyed an under the radar year sitting only behind Andrew Harris in rushing yards on the year with the defense for Ottawa putting up a solid season.

Consistency has been the only issue for Ottawa against the more elite teams, but taking on the 2-9 Alouettes, they looked to lock up their seventh win, against a rookie QB.

The Alouettes have been the worst team in the league all season but in two starts from Antonio Pipkin looked like they may have finally found a quarterback who can lead them in the right direction.

Montreal came into Week 12 off a win against the Argos where Pipkin looked like a savvy veteran in his second start, throwing for 303 yards and leading the team to its first victory since June with poise. With Johnny Manziel starting to practice again, the Al’s starter was a question mark all week, with the start went to Pipkin.

The Al’s would strike first on their second drive of the game. Pipkin led a very efficient drive with throws to four different receivers including a 24-yard gain to Ernest Jackson, as well as a few big runs by Ryder Stone.

The drive would be capped off with a 19-yard Boris Bede field goal and a 3-0 lead for Montreal.

Both defenses held up as neither team would put up points until Montreal kicked another field goal four minutes into the second quarter. Pipkin led the team down the field again, this time aided by a 15-yard roughness penalty when Kyries Hebert made a very clear helmet to helmet hit on BJ Cunningham.

Hebert would be suspended two games for the hit before the end of the game week. It will be Hebert’s second suspension of the year for an unsportsmanlike hit.

The drive would result in a 43-yard Bede field goal upping the Montreal lead to 6-1.

Montreal would continue to add to their lead well into the second quarter, as Pipkin ran an 8-play drive where he showed some great footwork avoiding defenders on his way to a first down on 2nd and 2. The drive would stall, however, and end in a 32-yarder by Bede and the 9-1 lead.

Ottawa would try and generate some rhythm before the half with Harris leading the offense on a 9-play drive before John Bowman tallied his 124th sack of his career. The drive stalled forcing Lewis Ward to kick his 25th consecutive field goal, a 40-yarder for the 9-4 score.

The RedBlacks kept the pressure up, as on the next play Pipkin would throw an interception to Antoine Pruneau giving Ottawa possession at the Montreal 53-yard line.

The pick would lead to no points, however, as Ryan Brown would record his third sack on the year taking Ottawa out of field goal range and the 9-4 lead into the half.

After Ottawa’s second-half opening drive ended in a punt, the defense came up big with another turnover. Antonio Pipkin would start the drive from his own 8-yard line and would launch a pass over his intended receiver’s head and into the arms of Jonathan Rose giving the RedBlacks the ball at the Montreal 22-yard line.

Montreal’s defense held on, however, holding the RedBlacks to a 13-yard field goal and the 10-7 score. Before the field goal it appeared as though Brad Sinopoli had a diving touchdown catch but after review, it was determined the nose of the ball touched the ground resulting in an incompletion.

The lost four points would be huge after the Alouettes next drive. Pipkin took the offense on an 8-play drive with big runs from Stone and Pipkin himself before the young QB took the ball on a sneak for the TD and the 18-7 lead.

Ottawa would add yet another field goal on the following drive cutting the lead down to 18-10.

After the RedBlacks started to climb out of the hole they had fallen into, the Als pushed them right back into it. A 50-yard pass from Pipkin to Jackson lead to a 14-yard Boris Bede chip-shot resulting in the 10-point lead at 21-11.

The RedBlacks were given a golden opportunity to bring the score within three after the Alouette defense took three penalties. An illegal contact on the receiver, roughing the passer and pass interference calls took Ottawa to the Montreal 3-yard line.

But Trevor Harris couldn’t connect on three straight passes over throwing Greg Ellingson on the last play resulting in a turnover on downs with the score remaining at 21-11.

The Als would seal the deal with a 28-yard run by Pipkin and once they gave possession back to Ottawa, Tevaughn Campbell came up with an interception on a deep ball sealing the 21-11 victory for Montreal.

The Alouettes have put up back to back impressive performances in a row now and this time it wasn’t just the QB that impressed. The Montreal defense had what was probably their best game all year keeping Ottawa out of the end zone while dominating the RedBlacks all night.

You add to that, Antonio Pipkin having another great game and you have the recipe for success. Pipkin went 18/27 for 242 yards with no touchdowns and did throw 2 interceptions which is something he needs to clean up. But the young QB lead the team and made plays on the ground as well rushing for 75 yards and a TD.

Ryder Stone had another impressive performance as well rushing for 81 yards and BJ Cunningham put up 107 yards on 8 catches. If the Als can get this kind of game out of both sides of the ball down the stretch they may challenge the Argos for third place in the East and possibly a late playoff spot, something no one expected.

The RedBlacks despite being outplayed, put up a poor performance. Trevor Harris did throw for 270 yards and Greg Ellingson had 114 yards on 8 catches, but the Ottawa offense looked completely lost on most plays and couldn’t gain any kind of rhythm or momentum.

The team could not get into the end zone and had only 58 yards rushing and the three incomplete passes from the 3-yard line that resulted in a turnover on downs towards the end of the game were they really needed to capitalize on.

The defense did a great job holding the Als back and coming up with 2 interceptions and 5 sacks. They were eaten up a bit on the ground and didn’t get enough help from the offense to completely shut Montreal down. The RedBlacks continue to be a team of inconsistency and slow starts as they keep their name out of the league of elites dropping to a 6-4 record on the year.

Player of the Game: Montreal Defence. The Als defense dominated the RedBlacks all night keeping them out of the end zone all night which is especially impressive for what was the league’s worst defense. They totaled 2 sacks and an interception as well as the massive turnover on downs near their own goal line to seal the win for Montreal.

 

Winnipeg (5-5)  -23

Saskatchewan (5-4)  -31

 

The second game of the weekend was one that is usually known as one of the best rivalry matchups of Labour Day Weekend between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Riders started out slow this year while losing their starting quarterback early and trying to find some consistency with their offense. Since Zach Collaros came back from his concussion in Week 8 against Edmonton, the offense and team have looked like they’ve found their identity.

That game against the Esks was a loss but they followed that up with a massive win over Calgary after a bye, and a close win over the Lions in Week 11. The offense since releasing Duron Carter has looked like it’s developed some rhythm and when you mix that with the powerhouse defense the Riders have, can create a team that can compete with anybody.

The Bombers have been one of the more up and down, disappointing teams this year. They have some of the best potential and playmakers on offense including the league’s leading rusher in Andrew Harris, but despite all of that came into Week 12 with a 5-5 record in fourth place.

Matt Nichols is coming off back to back games where he looked good to start but slowed down late in both games that ended in losses. He’s thrown three interceptions in both losses and really needed a bounce-back game against the Riders who sat above the Bombers at 5-4.

The Rider defense like it has all year made a huge play on Winnipeg’s opening drive. Matt Nichols threw a pass over the middle which tipped off the receiver’s hand and right to Matt Elam for his first career interception that he returned 54 yards to the Bomber 1-yard line.

Nick Marshall came in at quarterback and snuck the ball the 1 yard for the touchdown and the very early 7-0 lead.

Winnipeg would answer back with three points of their own.

After a huge run by Andrew Harris who found a hole and took off for 38 yards, Justin Medlock would kick a massive 50-yard field goal getting the Bombers on the board at 7-3.

The Bombers would attempt to put up another three on their next drive, a drive lead by Andrew Harris who ran the ball twice for 18 yards. On the 51-yard attempt by Medlock, the low kick would be blocked by Zach Evans giving Saskatchewan the ball at their own 16-yard line.

It wouldn’t be long before the Bombers took the lead after getting the ball back on two quick stops. Andrew Harris continued to eat up the Rider d-line picking up another 26 yards before Matt Nichols hit Kenbrell Thompkins for a 31-yard touchdown pass and the 10-7 lead.

With the Bomber defense completely shutting down the Rider offense, Saskatchewan needed to look to other sides of the ball to put up points. Rookie Kyran Moore took a Winnipeg punt 65 yards all the way to the end zone for the 14-10 Rider lead.

The lead did not last long as Harris wasn’t slowing down one bit. The leading rusher piled up another 34 yards totaling over 100 in the first half.

The run game leads to seven as Chris Streveler came in for a few plays and found Darvin Adams, who made a magnificent toe-dragging catch in the corner of the end zone for the 17-14 lead.

The Bomber defense continued to dominate as on the next Rider drive they came up with a turnover. Zach Collaros looked uncomfortable all half and while feeling the pressure he forced a pass into coverage with Brandon Alexander coming up with the interception.

Fortunately for the Riders, the turnover would result in two straight Saskatchewan sacks and a punt from Medlock. The 17-14 score would be carried into the half.

The Rider defense looked to get some momentum back in the second half as Winnipeg started driving down the field again.

With Andrew Harris leaving the game shook up on his first run of the third quarter, Kienan LeFrance came into the game and on a run,  he tried to hurdle the defender and ended up being hit in the air, fumbling the ball on the way down and recovered by Saskatchewan at their own 30-yard line.

After two drops by Rider receivers, they ended up settling for a 42-yard Brett Lauther field goal tying the game at 17 off the turnover.

Harris would return to the game on Winnipeg’s next drive. And on that drive, the Bombers would score three points for the fourth lead change of the game. The 42-yarder from Medlock would make it 20-17.

The Rider offense looked like it finally found some rhythm late in the third quarter and carried it into the fourth. They went on a 6-play, 75-yard drive finishing it with a 25-yard TD pass to Marcus Thigpen for the 24-20 lead.

Chris Jones would put faith in his defense on the following Saskatchewan drive having to punt from his own 4-yard line. The move paid off as the defense stopped the Bombers forcing them to settle for a 39-yard Medlock field goal and the 24-23 score.

The defense continued to come up huge for the Green & White forcing two straight two and outs late allowing the offense to chew up some clock and seal the deal. After a few nice runs and a 39-yard pass to Jordan Williams-Lambert to get the ball down to the 1-yard line.

Nick Marshall would run it in again for the touchdown and the 31-23 lead and victory as the defense would stop the Bombers on their final drive of the game. An interception by Ed Gainey with 55 seconds on the clock ended any hopes Winnipeg may have had.

 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders got a strong performance from their team in the second half. After being dominated in almost every facet in the first half the Riders came back with an offense that found a way to move the ball and a defense that would not allow anything past them.

After Andrew Harris ate up the Rider defense in the first half for over 100 yards he almost disappeared in the second half. Whether it was the injury he suffered early in the third quarter or the Rider defense standing tall, or even a combination of both he was silenced late despite finishing with 158 yards on the ground.

The Saskatchewan offense could not move the ball to save their lives in the first half with the only points they were able to come up with coming from the defense and special teams.

But in the second half, Collaros looked calm and comfortable in the pocket finishing 18/30 for 250 yards and a touchdown while leading drives and making plays when needed, while having four receivers putting up 30+ yards on the day.

Winnipeg started out dominating in the first half with the offense tearing it up on the ground and Nichols making a pair of beautiful touchdown passes. But it didn’t last the full 60 minutes as they couldn’t move the ball especially late when they were only down by 1 point and had an opportunity to take the lead with a field goal.

Nichols finished with just 166 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT with the second pick coming on their last drive where it looked like Nichols tried to catch the Rider D off balance by forcing a play with the Green & White not lined up.

They received a massive game from Harris but turned the ball over three times with one leading to a TD and were outmatched on Special Teams as well. They couldn’t hold the Saskatchewan defense back late in the game with them giving up a total of 3 sacks and they couldn’t take control of the game late when they had the chance to.

The win puts the Riders at 6-4 and drops the Bombers to 5-6 with the Banjo Bowl kicking off in Winnipeg next week. Charleston Hughes came up with another sack in this game to up his number to 8 straight games with a sack.

Player of the Game: Marcus Thigpen. It was a toss-up between Thigpen and Kyran Moore who had the punt return TD and 42 yards receiving, but Thigpen ran the ball for 55 yards and had 37 through the air and a receiving TD. He came up huge with big runs when it was needed and proved to be the weapon he is for this offense.

 

Edmonton (6-4)  – 20

Calgary (8-1)  – 23

Edmonton comes into the Labour Day Classic against Calgary losing six LDC’s in a row as Calgary have dominated the Battle of Alberta recently. The Eskimos following a Saskatchewan win over Winnipeg earlier in the week needed a win today to stay second place in the West as they’d fall to third place with a loss. Calgary stands firm as the best team in the league despite bending and looking beatable, they stand at top of the West with a remarkable 8-1 record and are the measuring stick that other teams are using to learn who they are.

The two teams would kick off the Labour Day Classic with two field goals as both offenses moved the ball well out of the gate, but both teams wouldn’t find the end zone. As we’d be tied 3-3 after 10 minutes of play. Calgary would be the first team to score a major though. Two first-down pickups by Kamar Jorden, before Bo Levi Mitchell, would hit DaVaris Daniels on a 19-yard screen that would find the end zone. 10-3 Calgary at the end of the first quarter.

Edmonton would respond though, with the Eskimos’ defense making a huge play, Jackson would get hit behind the line of scrimmage by Chris Edwards, forcing the ball out of Jackson’s hands which Nick Usher would pick up and run down to the Calgary 10-yard line.

It didn’t take long for the Eskimos’ to make Calgary pay for turning the ball over as C.J. Gable would get the ball on back-to-back plays and punch the ball into the end zone, tying the game with 10:56 to go in the first half.

Calgary wouldn’t take long to get back into Edmonton territory and thus back on the scoreboard with a 43-yard run by Jackson setting up the Stampeders nicely. Jackson would drop a swing pass that looked like it had the spacing to surely be a touchdown. So, the Stampeders would have to settle for a 19-yard chip shot from Paredes, which he would put through to put Calgary up 13-10.

Both Kamar Jorden and Derel Walker would leave during the second quarter with injuries in a game that had a lot of bump and bruises. Edmonton would drive down the field and cap off the first half with a Mike Reilly ball that floated into double coverage, but Duke Williams would bring the ball in for a 45-yard touchdown and give the Eskimos’ a 17-13 lead into the half.

Both teams would start the second half with rare misses from field goal kickers Whyte and Paredes, however, Calgary would get a single point bringing them within three points.

Bo Levi Mitchell would limp off the field from a non-contact injury to his knee and was replaced by Arbuckle on the next drive, however, Mitchell would come back into the game later. With Mitchell out the Calgary defense would step up, after a Mike Reilly pass that went through the hands of Nate Behar and into the hands of Ciante Evans, he’d return the ball into Edmonton territory.

Calgary would be unable to convert the turnover into a major and would settle for a 21-yard field goal that would tie the game at 17.

Edmonton would have troubles securing the ball in the second half as Duke Williams would put the ball on the ground the very next drive and C.J. Gable would also fumble the ball later in the quarter, the Eskimos’ would get away pretty much unscathed though as Calgary would have to settle for three points from two turnovers and a 20-17 lead.

The Eskimos’ would get the ball back with five minutes left in the game, in which Mike Reilly would drive down the field but must settle for a Sean Whyte 43-yard field goal that would tie the game up 2:45 left in the game. Calgary would get the ball back with 2:17 on the clock and were able to grab one first down before two incomplete passes would force them to punt back to the Eskimos’.

Edmonton with 1:47 left on the clock had a chance to drive down the field and give the Eskimos’ there first Labour Day Classic win in 7 years. They were stopped on their own 52-yard line and must punt the ball back to Calgary.

Now with 1:04 left in the game and with Bo Levi Mitchell back on the field, Calgary would drive down the field successfully to the Edmonton 34-yard line, setting up Paredes for the potential game winning 43-yard field goal.

Calgary would go onto win their 7th straight Labour Day Classic over Edmonton as they have simply dominated the Battle of Alberta over the last decade. Calgary is still by far the best team in the league, while they weren’t the best team in this game, good teams find ways to win games and that’s exactly what the Stampeders did. They are now 9-1 and are in firm control of first place in the West.

Edmonton is going to kick themselves over this game, they were the better team and probably deserved to win this game, however, putting the ball on the ground in key moments and taking bad penalties was the name of the game for Edmonton again as once again they shot themselves in the foot. The Eskimos’ are now third place in the West as with a loss today they fell behind Saskatchewan in the standings.

The two teams will do it all again next week at Commonwealth Stadium in the Labour Day rematch on Saturday, September 8th.

Player of the Game: Rene Paredes. Yes. A kicker. Paredes went 5/6 with his longest being 50-yards plus the game-winning 43-yard field goal.

Toronto (3-6)  – 28

Hamilton (4-5)  – 42

Heading into the doubleheader of the Labour Day Classic’s, which for some reason featured the Western game first and the Eastern game second, kind of backward if you ask me. Toronto needs to start stringing some wins together if they don’t want to fall out of the playoff race, while Hamilton can keep pace in the East with a win today. Let’s get into the last game of this amazing Labour Day Weekend.

Toronto would get the ball first in a hostile, loud environment at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton and the Tiger-Cats would feed off that emotion forcing a two-and-out on the first drive. With momentum from the defensive stop and the crowd behind them, Hamilton would get on the board quickly with Masoli dumping passes off to both Saunders and Banks before eventually setting up a two-yard touchdown run by Alex Green to put the Tabbies up 7-0 early in the first.

The Argos were struggling on both sides of the ball early in this one, after giving up the quick touchdown to the Tiger-Cats they would only manage to get one first down before surrendering the ball back over to Hamilton.

Hamilton was cooking early, as they would make the Argos pay once again, Masoli with three straight passes to Tasker, the last one looking like a short dump off, but Tasker would find open space downfield and with some good blocks from his receivers score from 56-yards out to put the home squad up 14-0.

Toronto needed points, quickly before letting this game get out of hand and they’d do just that. Four-run plays from James Wilder Jr gave the Argos a couple of first downs and momentum, followed by a couple Bethel-Thompson connections with Green which set up James Franklin for the one-yard QB sneak to put the Argos on the board.

The teams traded punts back and forth as finally, the defenses started making some stops. Masoli after dancing around in the pocket for much longer than he should have, eventually throwing an ill-advised ball over the middle that was picked off my Alden Darby giving the Argos good field position.

Toronto would make the Tabbies pay for the interception as they’d score a major in the next three plays, James Franklin would dump the ball off to Ryan Bomben, an offensive lineman for the Argos and we would be tied at 14.

Hamilton after starting out quickly with a 14-0 lead, now had to stop the bleeding as Toronto had all the momentum in the game, luckily, they got the ball back before the end of the half and were able to capitalize with it. Masoli who on first down from 19-yards out would connect with the field goal post, something that is rarely seen in the game, would make up for it on second down as he’d find Brandon Banks in the end zone for a 19-yard TD and put the Ti-Cats up 21-14 at halftime.

The Ticats were knocking on the doorstep early in the third quarter and poised to put more points on the board before Ronnie Yell punched the ball out of SJ Green’s hands, which Darby scooped up and brought 100-yards back to the house, tying the game at 21 and taking the energy right out of the building.

The Argos would then force a quick two-and-out and get the ball right back, with all the momentum in the game they would drive downfield with the help of a Hamilton roughing the passer penalty, James Franklin would once again find himself on the 1-yard line and plunge into the end zone to put the Argos up 28-21 and their first lead of the game.

A pair of field goals by Lirim Hajrullahu would pull the Tabbies within 1 point and we’d be coming down to the wire in a very tight game. Mike Daly would pick off Bethel-Thompson over the middle of the field setting up this fantastic 19-yard run by Green, the Ti-Cats would convert on the two-point conversion and lead 35-28 with 10 minutes to go.

Toronto couldn’t muster anything offensively at all for most of the second half and Hamilton’s offense couldn’t be stopped, eventually putting the nail in the coffin on a connection with Brandon Banks from 27-yards out to put Hamilton up 42-28, which is how this game would end.

The Tiger-Cats extended their second-place lead in the East with a win tonight moving to 5-5 on the season, the second-place spot in the East is coveted as it protects you from the crossover which looks more and more likely to happen every week. The Argonauts are trying to avoid that exact thing just mentioned, they don’t want to be the team in the East that is sitting at home watching the playoffs with a Western team in their spot.

Hamilton’s offense is looking better and better as Masoli is finally starting to prove me wrong, he’s not just a person that can move the chains, he can find the end zone. I don’t think they are a better team than Ottawa, but it’s nice to have another team in the East that looks like they can compete.

Toronto’s offense was stifled in the second half and couldn’t get anything going, while it’s nice seeing James Franklin do work on short yardage and convert touchdowns for the Argos, I’m a firm believer that those plays can be converted by Bethel-Thompson and something as a starting QB you can take momentum from. Toronto is basically in a must-win situation next week as these two teams will meet at BMO Field on Saturday, September 8th.

Player of the Game: Brandon Banks. 9 catches for 135 yards and 2 TDs.

CFL Week 12 Recap

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