Monday, November 13, 2017
OUT OF THE TUNNEL: ONE MORE STEP TO MAKE HISTORY
By: RodPedersen.com Staff
We head Out of the Tunnel this morning with the potential for the Green and White to make history and the hope of a Grey Cup match-up between Saskatchewan and Edmonton. That would be a prairie dream but a nightmare for the CFL Head Office! Both teams looked incredible on the road in their divisional semi-final wins on Sunday.
We begin with the Riders rolling the Redblacks 31-20 in Ottawa in the Eastern Semifinal. When the Green and White wins, the story is the same; it is through big plays in all facets of the game.
Marcus Thigpen took care of the big play on offence with his stunning 75-yard run in the third quarter to drive the first nail in the Ottawa coffin. Defensively, ageless wonder Jovon Johnson and Sam Eguavoen supplied the interceptions. Eguavoen’s pick late in the first quarter with the Redblacks threatening to score set the tone early in the game.
Digging deeper, the incredibly efficient play of Kevin Glenn was a calming influence on the offence. It wasn’t his best playoff game (his 2012 performance in Calgary’s West Final victory was much better; 15/24, 303 yds, 3TDS) but he didn’t need it to be. A mistake free, 234 yard passing game with a passing and a rushing touchdown (his first ever playoff rushing score) were exactly what the Rider offence needed.
This should seal it and silence the naysayers that Glenn is the outright starter for the rest of the playoff run. Everyone on the offence is on the same page, there’s veteran leadership from the quarterback position and you must know Glenn desperately wants to win his first Grey Cup (17 years!) as a starter.
The key moment of the game was early in the second half. Rider returner Christion Jones fumbled on a punt return deep in Rider territory. The defence stiffened and limited the Redblacks to just a field goal (and should have held them without a score if Ed Gainey didn’t drop a for-sure interception). The next play was the back-breaking touchdown run by Thigpen to extend the lead to 28-11.
Next up for the Riders is the Toronto Argos, a team they beat twice this season. The key factor is veteran Argo quarterback Ricky Ray. He is no stranger to this situation and has many tools at his disposal. They have the CFL’s second leading receiver in S.J. Green as well as a pair of complementary receivers - DaVier Posey and Armanti Edwards - and a bell cow running back in the East Division nominee for Rookie of the Year, James Wilder Jr.
Defensively, Victor Butler and Shawn Lemon can get after the quarterback and Bear Woods is a solid run-stopper. Unlike the Ottawa game plan of a predominantly three-man rush, you know defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin will be sending all kinds of exotic blitz packages to make things awful for Kevin Glenn.
This will be a monumental task for the Riders to stay on the road out east and play on the big stage of the Grey Cup (which unless you've been living under a rock, you know that a crossover team has never managed this in the CFL playoffs). The good news: the Riders have traveled this road before when they played in Ottawa and then a week later in Toronto at the end of September - early October - and remember they won both games.
Expect the Riders to make history and be the first crossover team to appear in the Grey Cup!
The Edmonton Eskimos continued their torrid late-season winning streak holding off the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 39-32 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg in the Western Semifinal.
Mike Reilly was in prime MOP form completing 70% of his passes with three touchdowns. C.J. Gable is the difference maker in the offence with another 100-yard rushing game (107) and 37-yards receiving. The key was limiting the big mistakes. Winnipeg lived and died on the turnover during the regular season and Edmonton didn’t give up a turnover this game while Reilly was sacked just once.
This is a scary hot Eskimos team and with Calgary on a three-game losing streak heading into the post season, don’t expect this to change.
Early Grey Cup Prediction: for the first time in CFL history Saskatchewan and Edmonton will face each other in the Grey Cup.
Canada West Diary:
The best game of the weekend was the Hardy Cup final in Calgary. UBC scored 22 second half points to take the 43-41 lead with 14 seconds remaining.
Dino quarterback Adam Sinagra completed a pair of passes to the Thunderbird 52-yard line to set up an almost impossible 59-yard field goal for the win. Enter Niko DiFonte. He answered the University of Calgary prayers by drilling the longest field goal in USports (or CIS or CIAU) playoff history.
DiFonte was the difference in both the Dinos playoff wins. He had 22 in Saturday’s Hardy Cup championship and 21 against Alberta in the semi-finals.
Defence was optional with just three forced turnovers and 1,170 yards of total offence.
Calgary will now welcome the Laval Rouge et Or in the Mitchell Bowl this Saturday with the winner heading to Hamilton for the Vanier Cup. The Uteck Bowl will feature the Western Mustangs facing the Acadia Axemen.
For the fourth straight year and seventh time in eight years the Saskatoon Hilltops are Canadian Bowl champions.
Canada’s top junior football program went to Windsor and smoked the AKO Fratmen 56-11. The Hilltops defence led the way forcing 10 Fratmen turnovers (three interceptions, four fumbles and three on downs) while the offence had a great mix of run (188 yards) and pass (213) in the victory.
This was Saskatoon’s 20th Canadian junior football championship.
Congratulations, Coach Sargeant and the Saskatoon Hilltops!
Canadian to watch in the NCAA
Sage Doxtater - T
New Mexico State
Hometown – Welland, Ont.
Class – Soph.
Doxtater has started almost from day one at left tackle for the New Mexico State Aggies. As a freshman in 2016, he started in all nine games he played in, missing three due to injury. He was named to the Sun Belt All-Newcomer Team.
In 2017, Doxtater started the first six games of the season before missing two games due to injury. He returned this past week in the Aggies victory over Texas State.
(By: RodPedersen.com Staff)