Week 9 in the CFL provided an upset, a defensive domination and Johnny Manziel looking a little more like Johnny Football. Only three games in the CFL this week as once again three teams ended up with bye weeks.

 

There were also some surprising transactions over the course of the week with Ottawa releasing Loucheiz Purofoy who later signed with Saskatchewan. The Roughriders made shocking news of their own proceeding to release Duron Carter Saturday night. Carter’s release comes a week after the release of Jerome Messam by the club.

 

 

Week 9 Bye:   

 

Edmonton (5-2)  – 23

BC (2-4)  – 31

Thursday Night Football this week saw a good match-up between two Western division teams both trying to establish a position in the West. Edmonton with a win can keep pace with Calgary and close the gap in the upcoming Labor Day back to back. While BC needed a win just to stay in the playoff hunt in the West.

The Eskimos would start with the ball in this one and just like so many other times, this season would score on the first drive of the game. After a couple quick passes and good runs by Gable, Mike Reilly would connect with Nate Behar for his first ever CFL touchdown. 7-0 Eskimos.

The two teams would go back and forth through the first quarter without amounting to much offense, following a 39-yard Lulay to Arceneaux play that put the Lions in good field position. Ty Long would hit a 25-yard field goal to put the Lions on the board. It would be 7-3 Eskimos at the end of the first quarter.

The Eskimos would get the ball back following the Lions field goal and drive down the field quickly before Mike Reilly would run it in from the 1-yard line for his 7th touchdown of the season.

14-3 Eskimos.

The Lions would go 2 and out the following drive, punting the ball back to the Eskimos who would also go 2 and out, however, their punt didn’t go as planned as Chris Rainey would bring it back 79 yards to the house for his 4th career punt return TD.

We’d go into the three-minute warning 14-10 Eskimos and on the other side of that warning, Travis Lulay would throw it away to Korey Jones who would return it 70 yards before being dragged down, putting the Eskimos in amazing field position.

Following that interception, it wouldn’t take long for the Eskimos to convert it to points as the very next play. Mike Reilly would connect with Derel Walker for a 15-yard touchdown and put the Eskimos up 20-10 heading into the half.

BC would start the second half with the ball and needed to get something going to stay in this game, they did exactly that. After a Chris Rainey connection that put the Lions into the red zone. Travis Lulay would find Kevin Elliott for a 9-yard TD bringing the Lions within a field goal.

The Lions would get the ball back after a dead Eskimos drive and Ty Long would kick a 51-yard field goal to tie the game at 20s halfway through the third quarter. The Eskimos would once again go two-and-out in a drive that lasted just over a minute.

The Lions with 5:39 left in the third quarter would put together a drive that lasted the remainder of the third, eventually ending in a Ty Long punt single that put the Lions up 21-20.

Mike Reilly would put the ball on the ground early in the fourth quarter on Edmonton’s own 20-yard line as Otha Foster III would get to Reilly and recover the ball for the Lions.

The next play following the Eskimos turnover Travon Van would run it from the Eskimos 8-yard line for a touchdown and following a failed two-point conversion the Lions would go up 27-20 with 10 minutes to play.

Edmonton would get the ball back and put together a solid drive that included a 51-yard Derel Walker connection but would have to settle for a 40-yard field goal, 27-23 Lions with 7:20 to play.

The Lions would get the ball back but it wouldn’t last long after a JC Sherritt sack leading to a Travis Lulay fumble that Edmonton recovered. Unfortunately, the Eskimos weren’t able to turn that turnover to points like the Lions did earlier in the game as Mike Reilly would give it right back to the Lions. Leading to a Ty Long 34-yard field goal that put the Lions up 30-23.

The Lions defense would stand strong and finish this game off, the Lions would get another punt single to put themselves up 31-23 and that’s how this game would end.

The Lions desperately needed this win to keep themselves within the Western Division playoff race. It may seem weird talking about playoff races in Week 9, but that’s the reality of the West division. BC looks a lot better with Travis Lulay under center but they still need to fine tune their game as I believe this is a game the Eskimos lost instead of a game that BC won.

The Eskimos are a frustrating team to watch, they show so much promise, they look like a team that can compete for the Grey Cup. But they always seem to find a way to shoot themselves in the foot whether it be penalties, turnovers or failed red zone trips.

I believe the Eskimos will be playing in the Western Finals this year regardless what happens in the regular season, but I still want to see them string games together.

 

Player of the Game: Our player of the game in this one is Otha Foster who had 4 tackles, 1 sack that forced a fumble that he recovered, while also deflecting a ball that led to a BC interception.

 

Hamilton (3-4)  – 23

Winnipeg (4-3)  – 26

The second game of Week 9 featured two teams who have seemed to struggle to consistently prove who they are and find their identity.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats started out as one of the hottest teams in the CFL with an All-Star performance by Jeremiah Masoli who is second behind Mike Reilly in passing with 2,214 yards going into Week 9. But as a team, some inconsistent play has led them to a 3-4 record through seven games.

The Winnipeg BlueBombers have had a similar season to the Ti-Cats with rookie quarterback Chris Streveler leading the team to a fast start before Matt Nichols took over and despite only playing in four games is seventh in passing with 873 yards.

They have enjoyed an amazing season from Andrew Harris who is leading the league with 638 yards rushing. But just like Hamilton, some inconsistent play as a team has resulted in a 4-3 record through seven games.

 

The Ti-Cats would get on the board first after a Winnipeg two-and-out. Masoli took the offense down the field on a 6-play drive lead by a 26-yard Jalen Saunders reception and a 37-yard catch by Brandon Banks. The drive would be capped off with a 1-yard Alex Green touchdown run and the 7-0 lead.

The Bombers would answer back on the following drive. Andrew Harris took the team down to the Hamilton 10-yard line on a 30-yard run. Matt Nichols then hit Weston Dressler for a 10-yard touchdown pass tying the game at 7.

On the following drive, Winnipeg got the ball back. On the first play of the drive, Masoli handed the ball off to Green who was tackled by Adam Bighill forcing a fumble which Bighill then recovered at the Hamilton 26-yard line.

Four plays later Harris scored on the 3-yard touchdown run jumping out to a 14-7 Winnipeg lead. The Bombers would add a 23-yard Justin Medlock field goal on their next drive extending the lead to 17-7.

Hamilton would then cough the ball back up on their next drive. This time Jackson Jeffcoat got the strip-sack on Masoli and the fumble was recovered by Craig Roh at the Bomber 46-yard line.

Luckily for the Ti-Cats, Winnipeg would go on a two-and-out on the ensuing drive resulting in a punt. Winnipeg went into the half with a 19-7 lead.

Hamilton would cut into the Bomber lead in the third quarter when Liram Hajrullahu would kick a 39-yard field goal trimming the lead to 19-10. The lead would not last long, however.

Matt Nichols would lead the Bombers back in front on a 5-play drive capping it all off with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Nic Demski for the 26-10 lead.

The Hamilton offense finally seemed like it found some rhythm on their next drive with Masoli leading them on an 11-play drive before he hit Brandon Banks in the end zone. Banks made an incredible leaping catch over two defenders, bringing it down on the goal line scoring the TD and cutting the score down to 26-16.

And it didn’t stop there! Hamilton got the ball back and went on another long drive this time for 54 yards led by runs on the behalf of Alex Green and Masoli himself before Green took it to the house for the 2-yard score coming within a field goal at 26-23.

The Bombers would add a 33-yard Medlock field goal and stop the Ti-Cats on the ensuing drive with an Adam Bighill sack of Masoli on 3rd and 12 to seal the 26-23 victory.

The Bomber defense kept Hamilton in check through most of this game until the Ti-Cat offense started to come back in the second half. The one constant for Winnipeg was their pass rush. They maintained a tonne of pressure on Jeremiah Masoli all game long and totaled 4 sacks on the night. They were able to force 2 fumbles and a turnover on downs to end the game on a sack.

The offence for Winnipeg was quiet with Matt Nichols going 13/24 for 180 yards and 2 TD’s but they were able to get a great game out of Andrew Harris who despite not breaking the 100-yard rushing threshold was a threat all night long putting up yards on the ground, through the air and getting in the end zone. If their defense can play this way consistently they’ll compete with the best the league has to offer.

Jeremiah Masoli was a massive threat all game going 17/27 for 251 yards and 1TD. He also leads his team in rushing with 80 yards on 7 scrambles. But that amazing performance was part of the problem. He wasn’t getting a tonne of help outside of Brandon Banks who had 106 yards on 6 catches.

Alex Green did pile up 63 yards rushing but it wasn’t enough to help an offense that was dominated most of the game and couldn’t find a way to be effective until the third quarter. The Ti-Cat defense held up well but when they weren’t getting the support they allowed some big gains early from Andrew Harris and co.

Hamilton has been such a confusing team since Week 4. They have the pieces to compete and have proven they can, just not with the better teams in the league and at a consistent level.

Player of the Game: Andrew Harris. I really wanted to pick the Bomber defense, but they started to fall apart late. Harris had 82 yards on 16 carries and 1TD as well as 46 yards on 4 catches while leading the team in rushing and receiving yards.

 

Montreal (1-6) – 17

Ottawa (4-3) – 24

 

Capping off the week was a match-up between the best team in the East and the worst. The Ottawa RedBlacks, for the most part, have dominated the East outside of a loss to the Argos a week prior in a thrilling comeback game.

Ottawa came into the Week 9 match with a 4-3 record and sported one of the games best passing attacks. The RedBlacks were second in passing yards behind only the Stampeders, with a total of 2,104 yards and third in passing touchdowns with 9 before Saturday night. They looked to strengthen their lead on the Ti-Cats in the first place.

The Montreal Alouettes came into this game as the worst team in the league sitting almost last in every single team-statistical category prior to Saturday’s game. All the focus would not be on the Al’s as a team but on their starting quarterback.

Johnny Manziel got the second start of his CFL career after a horrendous showing the week prior where he threw 4 interceptions and had a completion percentage of just 55%. Some of that could be said to fall on the Al’s coaching staff for forcing Manziel into a game with only four days of practice under his belt.

Regardless he looked for a much better showing on the road against Ottawa.

The first quarter was a sloppy one for both teams. Between the RedBlack receivers fumbling the ball twice giving possession to the Al’s and Diontae Spencer dropping a wide-open pass deep downfield it was a quarter to forget.

The Al’s didn’t do much either. Outside of a few big runs by Tyrell Sutton, the offense couldn’t convert more than four first downs in the first quarter taking a 1-0 lead into the second.

In the second quarter, the Al’s would finally capitalize on an Ottawa mistake. On the third turnover of the game for the RedBlacks, Chris Ackie would pick off a tipped pass and return it 35 yards for the touchdown and the 8-2 lead.

Lewis Ward would add a 45-yard field goal and Boris Bede would miss a 49-yard attempt leading to a 9-5 Montreal lead into the half.

The RedBlacks faced a 3rd and inches with 12 seconds left in the half and decided to call a play-action rollout with Dominique Davis throwing into the end zone, however it resulted in an incompletion and a turnover on downs.

Ottawa would start to get things going in the second half. Trevor Harris would lead the offense on a 12-play 101-yard drive to open the half, finishing in a 14-yard touchdown pass to RJ Harris for his first career CFL TD.

The failed 2-point conversion would end in a 12-10 Ottawa lead.

Johnny Manziel then leads a “Johnny Football-esque” drive to take the lead back. He ran the ball three times for a total of 37 yards while completing a 12-yard pass to Ernest Jackson. One of those three runs was an 18-yard romp in which it looked like he scored a TD.

He fumbled the ball before crossing the line, however, but it was recovered by offensive-lineman Kristian Matte for the score and 16-11 lead.

Ottawa would tie the game at 17 in the fourth quarter with a pair of Lewis Ward field goals. One from 33 yards away and one 15. It was his 21st and 22nd consecutive made field goals which set a record for most by a first-year player.

They would then take the lead with 15 seconds left in the game. William Powell would go on three straight runs for a total of 26 yards before a 10-yard touchdown run taking the 24-17 lead and victory.

Ottawa played the type of game they have all year. They started out very slow and didn’t look like they would be able to get much done. They turned it on in the second half and found a way to come out with the victory late. Trevor Harris lit it up and got a tonne of support from his teammates.

William Powell carried the ball 17 times for 104 yards and the game-winning TD. Greg Ellingson had 11 catches for 110 yards and Brad Sinopoli had 83 yards on 8 catches. The defense had 2 sacks and forced 2 fumbles recovering one of them. They move to 5-3 at the top of the East but need to find a way to play a full 60 minutes. The offense was explosive but only in the second half. Consistency continues to be their biggest issue.

Montreal looked like they may have finally figured something out with a great early performance from their defense. They totaled 3 sacks and 6 turnovers. The offense looked better than as of late and Manziel put forward a much better performance going 16/26 for 168 yards but didn’t do enough.

The defense was eaten up late, especially on the ground due to a lack of production from the Al’s offense. They couldn’t sustain a drive in the second half and the defense was left on the field far too long to be productive late. There is still a tonne of work to be done with this team but perhaps Manziel has something to build off going forward.

Player of the Game: Trevor Harris. Harris leads his team to victory carrying most of the weight in the second half. He went 44/54 for 487 yards 1TD and 1INT. He just needs a bit more out of the rest of his offense consistently going forward.

 

CFL Standings

Arik Krause | wincolumnsports.ca
CFL Week 9 Recap

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