CFL

Als, Lions look for first wins; Eskimos host Ticats on TSN

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The Sports Network
7/4/2014 12:18:43 PM
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A couple of teams coming off disappointing efforts in their respective season openers get together tonight as the Montreal Alouettes entertain the B.C. Lions.

Catch the game as the first half of a doubleheader on TSN and TSN GO at 7pm et/4pm pt, with radio coverage available on TSN 690 in Montreal and TEAM 1040 in Vancouver, followed by the Edmonton Eskimos hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at 10pm et/7pm pt.

The Als figured to have some struggles early on with the change in quarterback, but no one could have foreseen their awful effort against Calgary in the opener.

Troy Smith did little with his opportunity to make Montreal fans forget all about Anthony Calvillo. In fact, it would not be surprising if Calvillo was besieged by requests to reconsider his retirement after the lackluster performance by the new starting quarterback for the Als in their 29-8 setback at Calgary last weekend.

Smith was largely ineffective as he completed just 18-of-41 passes for 154 yards, was sacked four times and tossed an interception. Many of his throws sailed over the heads of receivers, and at no time did Smith make an effort to show off his running ability, perhaps the latter was in an effort to keep him from getting injured in the very first game of the season.

Running back Brandon Whitaker was credited with 59 yards on 12 carries, while Steven Lumbala scored a one-yard touchdown on his only carry of the contest, one that came at the end of the meeting following a defensive penalty.

The debut of former NFL superstar receiver Chad Johnson was uneventful as he caught just two passes for 20 yards, but he wasn't the only Montreal player guilty of having little influence on the outcome. As a group, the Alouettes generated a mere 175 yards of offense and while they were far from an offensive juggernaut a season ago, they did manage to put up 322.5 ypg.

Charged with 12 penalties, for a loss of 120 yards, didn't help matters for the Als, but that was just one aspect of the game that needs to be cleaned up moving forward.

Defensively, Montreal surrendered 425 yards and did little to capitalize on the fact that Calgary was hit with a dozen penalties for 129 yards.

While the Alouettes were completely blown out of the water, British Columbia's meeting against visiting Edmonton immediately afterward on Saturday evening started off well enough, before spiraling out of control, en route to a 27-20 defeat.

Kevin Glenn tossed a couple of first-quarter touchdowns for the Lions in that clash, but after that he was barely heard from as the club registered just two field goals by Paul McCallum the rest of the way.

BC ran only 65 plays partly because Glenn was picked off four times and suffered four sacks as he completed 18-of-28 passes. The pressure on the signal-caller was never ending, as his four picks were more than half of his entire 2013 total of just seven.

Andrew Harris, who ran for 37 yards on 11 attempts, also caught six balls for 102 yards in an effort to keep the Lions in the mix against Edmonton. Then again, Harris did fumble on the final offensive play of the game.

On a more positive note, the Lions did manage to limit the Eskimos to less than 300 yards of offense, but even that went by the wayside in the loss.

The squads split their two regular-season matchups from last year as the home team came up big. First, the Als slipped by BC during Week 9 action by a score of 39-38, as Sean Whyte knocked through the game-winning field goal in the waning moments in order to offset five field goals by his counterpart, McCallum. Three weeks later, British Columbia returned the favor with a resounding 36-14 decision, as Travis Lulay threw one TD and ran for another in order to offset a trio of interceptions.

As far as the series record is concerned, BC is ahead by a count of 35-32-1 when taking into consideration only regular-season meetings dating back to 1961. The Lions have won two of the last three encounters, including a 36-14 decision at home back in September of 2013.

These teams will meet once more during the regular season a little over two weeks from now in Vancouver.

Watch the Eskimos take on the Tiger-Cats in the second half of a doubleheader on TSN at 10pm et/7pm et.

Edmonton, AB - After winning a total of just four times all of last season, the Edmonton Eskimos shoot for half that number in just the second week of the 2014 campaign as they host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night.

Edmonton, which won just once through the first 10 games of 2013, got off on the right foot this time around thanks to a convincing 27-20 victory versus British Columbia at BC Place last weekend.

Mike Reilly threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns for the Eskimos and new head coach Chris Jones. The quarterback converted 22-of-35 pass attempts and was intercepted once. Receiver Adarius Bowman finished with nine catches for 105 yards, one of his best performances in years. Calvin McCarty and Fred Stamps also registered majors in the outing.

Edmonton scored points in every quarter, yet the squad generated a mere 295 yards of total offense on 84 snaps, partly due to the fact that the Eskimos had to deal with 13 penalties for a loss of 93 yards on the evening.

Defensively, Edmonton held the Lions to just 283 yards on 65 plays, all without the services of J.C. Sherritt who remained on the injured list. The linebacker, who missed several games last season, set the CFL single-season record for tackles two years ago with 130.

Sherritt should be back on the active roster this week, but that does not guarantee that he will see game action.

While the Esks were setting in motion the start of what will hopefully be a successful season, Hamilton was being beaten up by Saskatchewan in a rematch of last year's Grey Cup.

In November of last year, the Roughriders dominated the Tiger-Cats at Mosaic Stadium by a score of 45-23, and Sunday night saw a similar performance from both sides as Hamilton took it on the chin once more in a 31-10 rain-soaked final.

In 2013, the 'Cats had the luxury of riding the arm of Henry Burris, the league's top passer with close to 5,000 yards, but he has since been moved a couple of times and now plays for the newest team to the league, the Ottawa RedBlacks. Now they are relying on free agent Zach Collaros to provide some stability at the position, something that was not found in the opener.

Granted, the poor weather conditions may have had something to do with the lackluster play of Collaros, as he completed 19-of-33 passes for 159 yards and a score, but considering the protection he was given along the offensive line, you really can't put all the blame on him. Although, being sacked a mystifying 10 times does indicate that perhaps Collaros was holding onto the ball a bit too long.

Unfortunately, it appears the sack issue may be a continuing trend from last season when Hamilton was last in the league with 65 allowed, second-most on that list was Edmonton with 60.

Producing only 201 yards of total offense in the opener, there were times when the Tiger-Cats could not get out of their own way. The squad fumbled the ball four times, losing possession twice, and was flagged for an incredible 17 penalties for a loss of 148 yards.

Sam Giguere stepped up and posted a game-high six receptions (a career high) for 46 yards, while Luke Tasker reeled in a four-yard scoring pass for the program midway through the final period.

One bright spot for the Hamilton defense was rookie tackle Bryan Hall who made three tackles, registered one sack and forced a fumble during the setback.

Dating back to 1961 and taking into consideration only regular-season meetings between these two clubs, Edmonton is ahead by a count of 54-30-1, winning two of the last three and four of the last six matchups overall. However, Hamilton is the one that came out on top in the most recent encounter last August, when kicker Grant Shaw delivered a 45-yard single as time expired in a 30-29 road triumph.

The teams are also set to meet in Hamilton during Week 13 play this season.

Troy Smith (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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