Week 15 of the CFL is officially over and we are inching closer and closer to the CFL playoffs. The East is already determined, for the most part, now we’re just waiting to see which team will be crossing over. Montreal went with Johnny Manziel as their starter, and he struggled once again with his stat line now reading 0-3 with 0 TDs and 5 INT as a starter. Hamilton and BC played in an instant classic and Edmonton’s offence sputtered.

Here’s your Week 15 recap.

Week 15 Bye: 

Montreal (3-9) – 14

Winnipeg (5-7)  31

 

Kicking off Week 15 of the CFL season was a matchup between the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Montreal has suffered a long season through the first 14 weeks but seemed to have found some rhythm with Antonio Pipkin under center. The team won two games in a row before dropping a 32-14 loss to the Lions in Week 14.

Coming into Week 15 Johnny Manziel would get the start Friday night taking the job back after missing some time. It was a debatable decision by Mike Sherman to put Manziel back in control after Pipkin had a rough showing against BC. Prior to the loss, Pipkin looked like he won the team over with two impressive starts.

Winnipeg came into Week 15 after a bye in Week 14. Prior to the bye the Bombers suffered two straight losses to the Riders and were on a four-game losing streak. The heat has been high in Winnipeg with scrutiny falling upon quarterback Matt Nichols. With Chris Streveler coming into the Banjo Bowl against the Riders and showing some success it set up a fan base calling for a change.

Mike O’Shea would opt to keep Nichols as the starting QB coming out of the bye. The Bombers were desperate for a win against an Al’s team that sat at the bottom of the Eastern Division but Winnipeg couldn’t take their opponent lightly.

The Bombers jumped out front early scoring on their opening drive. A 6-play drive lead by Andrew Harris who ran three times for a total of 14 yards. The drive stalled with a sack of Matt Nichols resulting in a 50-yard field goal by Justin Medlock and the 3-0 lead.

On Winnipeg’s very next drive they would march back down the field and put up more points. This time getting into the end zone. On the drive Harris would rack up another 27 yards on the ground, going over 1000 on the year. The drive was capped off with a 10-yard TD pass from Nichols to Harris for the 10-0 lead.

On their ensuing drive, Montreal would get on the board with a field goal of their own. After Johnny Manziel was sacked by Craig Roh the Als faced a 3rd and 23. They would settle for a 47-yard Boris Bede field goal and the 10-3 score.

The field goals continued as the Bombers would put up another three points with a 43-yarder from Medlock extending the lead to 13-3. Montreal would get those three points back on their next drive with a 31-yarder trimming the lead down to 13-6.

Winnipeg kept piling on before the end of the half. Nichols would hit Darvin Adams for a 50-yard gain plus an illegal contact penalty, setting up camp at the Montreal 7-yard line. Nichols would pitch the ball out to Keenan LaFrance on the next play for the touchdown and the 20-6 lead at the half.

They would lose Andrew Harris, however, with him leaving with an injury before the end of the first half and did not return the rest of the game.

Montreal would try and get back into the game in the second half using both QB’s to do it. They ran an 8-play 57-yard drive with both Manziel and Pipkin coming in for different snaps. The drive would end in a 2-yard Pipkin TD run cutting the Bomber lead down to 21-13.

After the Als pulled to within one touchdown on a rouge kicked into the end zone, the Bombers would add another three points with three minutes left in the game. Medlock would kick a 43-yarder for the 24-14 lead.

Manziel started moving the ball down the field but with less than two minutes left in the game but would give it all away. On a long throw to the sideline, Manziel would have the pass picked off by Marcus Sayles.

The Bombers would score another TD on a Streveler sneak sealing the 31-14 victory and snapping the four-game losing streak.

The Bombers were finally able to put together a solid enough game to pull out the victory. They didn’t light it up, but Matt Nichols put together an efficient game throwing for 256 yards and 1 touchdown but most importantly stayed off the turnover sheet. They were able to get 54 total yards out of Andrew Harris before he left the game and desperately need him to be healthy sooner rather than later.

Special shoutout to Weston Dressler who recorded his 700th career reception in the game.

The defense held their own and then some. They made Manziel look lost through most of the game and garnered tonnes of pressure on the Montreal QB all night. The defense totaled five sacks, one forced fumble, and an interception. The Als did put up 343 yards but the Bomber D did their jobs all night and came up huge late to seal the win.

Montreal once again looks lost after two straight wins. Johnny Manziel did not seem to have control of the offense and while he may have made a play or two was never able to gain solid rhythm or momentum. He was efficient but couldn’t connect on enough big plays to keep the Als in the game.

The defense for Montreal wasn’t horrible but gave up too much, especially late. They could have used some help from the offense to keep them off the field but when they needed to hold the game to one possession late, they gave up the field goal making it a 10-point Bomber lead. Montreal continues to spiral with no real identity and still sit with a question at quarterback.

Player of the Game: Craig Roh. I didn’t want to piggyback Glen Suitor’s choice but at the end of the day, the defensive end’s performance was just that much more impressive than Nichols. Roh totaled seven tackles and three sacks wreaking havoc on Manziel all night and making that much more difficult to gain any momentum.

 

Edmonton (7-5) – 15

Ottawa (7-5) 28

 

The first game of Saturday’s tripleheader saw two 7-5 teams looking to continue playing good football into the remainder of the season and hopefully the playoffs.

Ottawa is looking to hold onto a first-place lead in the East, while Edmonton is looking to have home-field advantage in the Western semi-finals at this point as they are in a battle with Saskatchewan.

Ottawa would put the first points of the contest on the board in the first quarter as Harris would connect with Ellingson on a 21-yard gain that would eventually lead to a Lewis Ward field goal. Ottawa would be up 3-0.

Edmonton’s offense would drive down the field, but the wind would knock down a Sean Whyte field goal attempt short at the one-yard line. Dionate Spencer would have an 80+ yard punt return called back on a penalty and we’d end the first quarter with really nothing doing and an Ottawa 3-0 lead.

Ottawa was able to score on their first drive of the second quarter, one which they got after C.J. Gable would put the ball on the ground, that drive would lead to a Lewis Ward 32-yard field goal and give Ottawa a 6-0 lead.

The Redblacks would get the ball and drive down the field, eventually scoring what they thought was going to be a touchdown before it was called back on a flag, that penalty would prove to be costly, not only taking points off the board but Chris Edwards would intercept Harris inside the five-yard line and give Edmonton the ball back.

The last couple minutes of the second quarter was the most exciting of this first half as the Redblacks would drive down the field eventually set themselves up for another Ward field goal, his third of the half to give Ottawa a 9-0 lead.

Edmonton would get on the board before the half would end though as the defending Most Outstanding Player would once again take over the lead of rushing TD’s in the CFL with his 12th on the year.

Ottawa with 30 seconds left on the clock before the half would find a way to get into field goal range as Ward would put it through giving Ottawa a 12-7 lead heading into halftime.

The Redblacks were the first time to score in the second half as Harris drove Ottawa from their side of the field to within the Eskimos’ 10-yard line, where they’d be stopped and would have to settle for another field goal, their fifth of the night and go up 15-7.

The Eskimos’ and Mike Reilly would find their rhythm late in the third quarter when Reilly would connection with Vidal Hazelton for a huge gain, then eventually find Duke Williams in the end zone for a TD, capping off the drive with a two-point conversion to Bryant Mitchell as the Eskies would tie the game 15-15.

The Eskimos almost found the break they needed in the game when J.C. Sherritt took the ball to the house following a Trevor Harris sack, however, the play would be reviewed and determined that Harris got his knee down just before the ball was knock out, therefore taking the points off the board. Ward finished off that Redblacks drive with a 40-yard field goal, his 36th straight field goal which put Ottawa back in front 18-15.

Halfway through the fourth, the Eskimos were knocking on the doorstep where Rico Murray would come up huge for Ottawa, picking Reilly off at the goal line. Ottawa would drive the ball 77 yards downfield and cap it off with an Ellingson TD to extend their lead to 25-15.

The Redblacks would seal the deal as they’d force a Mike Reilly turnover after the three-minute warning, leading to Ward’s seventh field goal of the game as Ottawa would move on to win 28-15.

Edmonton will look to rebound after the loss next week at home against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as now the Eskimos’ need to start rattling off some wins in a row if they want to be in the playoffs. Edmonton hasn’t looked good, if Reilly’s offense doesn’t dominate, they don’t win games, simple as that. I don’t believe we’ll see them defending home turf at the Grey Cup this year, but there is still a bit of football left.

Ottawa will enjoy a bye next week and face the Bombers the following week, Ottawa is sitting comfortably in first place in the East with a 2-game advantage over the Tiger-Cats. Ottawa has basically already clinched a playoff spot and will be looking toward clinching the Eastern Final home game.

Player of the Game: Lewis Ward. 7/7 FG’s.

 

Saskatchewan (7-5) – 30

Toronto (3-8) 29

 

The second game of Saturday’s tripleheader saw the Saskatchewan Roughriders take on the Toronto Argonauts. The Riders were the hottest team in the league with a stifling defense who not only shut teams down but also put up points. The Argos, however, have struggled all year after losing starting quarterback Ricky Ray.

Saskatchewan was on a four-game winning streak before dropping one to the RedBlacks in Week 14. Ottawa ran all over the Riders and made the defense look completely lost compared to its dominant performance in the weeks prior.

The offense has been relatively quiet all year. It looked rejuvenated since getting Zach Collaros back from a concussion. However, in Week 14 the RedBlacks dialed up pressure on Collaros all game and at one point forced him out of the game. The Riders were looking for a rebound game on Saturday night.

Toronto lost their QB early in the year and after experimenting with James Franklin decided to go with McLeod Bethel-Thompson as the starter. Bethel-Thompson has found a rhythm under center with the team but still hasn’t been able to consistently put up wins.

This game saw the newly signed Duron Carter take on his former team who cut him a month prior. Carter looked to register his first catch as an Argo while helping his team get back into the playoff hunt. Despite only having three wins on the season Toronto was still in third place in the East and only three games back of second place.

The Riders would get on the board first with an impressive drive. They would line up for a field goal on 3rd and 2 with Brett Lauther missing, however, an offsides penalty on Toronto would extend the drive with a first down.

Two plays later Collaros would hit Jordan Williams-Lambert for a 5-yard touchdown pass for the 7-0 lead. Saskatchewan would get the ball back on Toronto’s ensuing drive. Bethel-Thompson would fire one to the far side of the field only to have it picked of Loucheiz Purofoy.

The turnover wouldn’t prove too costly as the outcome was limited to just a 15-yard Lauther field goal and the 10-0 lead. Toronto would get on the board on their next drive, after some confusion. They would line up for a field goal but faked it resulting in an incompletion and apparent turnover on downs.

However, even though the play was never blown dead, the Argos were called for procedure pushing them back five yards and giving them another attempt at the field goal. This time Zack Medeiros would make the 42-yarder for the 10-3 score. On their next drive, they would tie the game.

Bethel-Thompson would hit SJ Green for a 56-yard gain setting Toronto up with the 1-yard sneak by James Franklin for the TD and 10-10 tie.

But it wouldn’t last long. On Saskatchewan’s first play on the ensuing drive, Collaros would hand off to Marcus Thigpen who took off for an 82-yard touchdown run and the 17-10 lead.

It didn’t end there for the Riders as Collaros would hit Naaman Roosevelt on two consecutive deep passes, one for 23 and one for 40 yards. Collaros would then throw a beautiful ball on the corner route to Williams-Lambert for the 12-yard TD and 24-11 lead.

The Argos would add a 48-yard field goal before the end of the half for the 24-14 score. They would carry some momentum into the second half opening the second quarter up with a 10-play drive that ate up 10 minutes of play. The drive would end in a 22-yard field goal by Medeiros for the 24-17 score.

After both teams traded field goals, the Argos would tie the game to end the third quarter. Collaros would try and squeeze one in along the sideline. Trumaine Washington came up with the interception and returned it 62 yards for the touchdown and the 27-27 tie.

With under five minutes left in the game, the Argos moved the ball down the field with big runs and catches by James Wilder who totaled 36 yards on the drive. The big plays by Wilder set up a 36-yard field goal. However, Meideiros would miss the kick wide left. The ball went through the end zone for one point and the 28-27 lead.

It then became a battle of kickers. The Riders would have their ensuing drive stall setting up a 3rd and 22. Brett Lauther came out and kicked a 56-yard field for the 30-28 lead with a minute left.

The Argos would get a couple key first downs on the last drive of the game. Zack Medeiros then attempted a 51-yard attempt on 3rd and 10. The kick would miss wide left for just one point sealing the 30-29 victory for Saskatchewan.

The Riders barely made it out of Toronto with the victory in this one. They started out very fast jumping out in front early and piling up points, but they slowed down as the game moved on. The defense held up well through most of the game only giving up one touchdown. Despite James Wilder having a good game through the air, the Rider D was able to hold him to 48 yards on the ground, however late in the game they started to allow him to eat them up a bit.

The offense for Saskatchewan was efficient but fell apart late in the game. Marcus Thigpen had a great night almost eclipsing 100 yards on the ground while Naaman Roosevelt had 5 catches for 105 yards. Zach Collaros threw for 233 yards and 2TD’s but did throw 2INTs to go with it. After the loss to Ottawa, this was a bit of an inconsistent game to bounce back with, but they were able to get the win and retake second place in the West.

This was a solid effort from the Argos. They fell early but were able to bounce back with big games from their quarterback and their defense. They couldn’t generate a sack on Collaros but did force two interceptions, one going for the pick-six.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson went 32/44 for 321 yards and 1 interception. He got 106 yards from SJ Green and 74 from James Wilder through the air. They pushed for the comeback late and probably should have won the game if not for two missed field goals a few mistakes here and there. The Argos made this game closer than it should have been and put up a good fight but fall to 3-9 on the year with the loss.

Player of the Game: Marcus Thigpen. Thigpen ran the ball just four times but put up 95 yards and a touchdown, the TD being the 82-yard score. Despite most of his yards were on one run, week in and week out he continues to be a spark plug for this team and brought the energy in this one.

 

 

Hamilton (6-6) – 32

BC (5-6) – 35

The third game of the Saturday tripleheader and the last game of the weekend saw the best game of the week between the Tiger-Cats and BC Lions. This was a very important game for the BC Lions as they look to find themselves at the very least in the crossover picture, but with a win today and an Eskimos’ loss, they aren’t exactly out of the West either. Every game is important, but for the Tiger-Cats, this game wasn’t as much, they seem to be comfortably in second place in the East, the only thing left to determine is whether they’ll win the division.

Jonathon Jennings would start in place of the injured Travis Lulay and would establish himself early in this game as he’d complete his first four attempts and during the Lions second drive of the game would set up Ty Long for a 51-yard field goal giving BC a 3-0 lead.

The Lions would force the Tiger-Cats to punt three straight times in the first quarter, hugely lead by Davon Coleman who would get two sacks in the first quarter.

Finally, the Ticat’s were able to get things going on offense in the second quarter, after Masoli threw an interception that was negated by a pass interference call against Winston Rose. Masoli would hand the ball off to John White who would find the end zone from 8-yards out, putting the Ticats’ up 7-3.

The Lions would go two-and-out on the ensuing drive and it wouldn’t take long for the Ticats’ to make them pay when Jeremiah Masoli would find a streaking Mike Jones for a 75-yard touchdown and within a minute the Ticats’ would put up two majors and lead 14-3.

The Lions offense wouldn’t go silently into the night though, after a 31-yard pickup by DeVier Posey, Jennings’ would fine Cory Watson in the end zone from eight yards out on second-down, Collins would convert the two-point conversion and the Lions would pull within a field goal, 14-11.

The two teams would trade field goals back and forth setting up for an amazing finish, with two and a half minutes to go in a 20-14 game, Jennings would connect with Bryan Burnham from eight yards out and following the convert would give the Lions a 21-20 lead.

The Ticats weren’t done yet, only down a point with over two minutes left to play, Masoli would first connect with Tasker for a 17-yard gain, bringing the Tiger-Cats to midfield in which Masoli would find a wide-open Jones for a 55-yard touchdown, Tasker would convert the two-point conversion and the Ticats would have a 28-21 lead with 1:46 to play.

With less than two minutes left to play, Jennings would turn the ball over on third down, which looked to be game over, however, the Ticats’ would quickly go two-and-out and instead of opting for a long field goal which would seal the deal, they chose to punt the ball, leading to a punt single and a 29-21 lead.

Jennings went to work with 33 seconds left on the clock, quickly moving the ball downfield eventually finding Bryan Burnham in the end zone with zero seconds on the clock from 20-yards out, Burnham would also convert the two-point conversion forcing overtime as we’d be tied up 29-29.

The two kickers would trade field goals back and forth in overtime, however, Hajrullahu would miss in the second scrimmages leaving an opportunity for the Lions to take the game as they would bring out Long on second down and he would make no mistakes, splitting the uprights and capping the comeback for the Lions in a huge 35-32 win.

The two teams will meet each other next week in which should be an amazing rematch, this time in Hamilton.

BC with the win is currently sitting in the crossover spot and only one game behind Edmonton for third in the West, I have been down on Jennings all year, but he balled out this game and if he can do that going forward BC is going to be a team to watch down the stretch.

As said before, this game for Hamilton didn’t mean too much, they played well, just didn’t get the win in this one and they shouldn’t be worried going forward.

Player of the Game: Jonathon Jennings. 32/47. 346 yards, 3 TDs.

CFL Week 15 Recap

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