CFL Week 1: Thrillers as Canadian football returns

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    The view from the bleachers at a New Orleans Saints game. (Image: John Billiris)

    The Canadian Football League is back. Here’s my wrap of the weekend just gone.

    Saskatchewan Roughriders 16 def by. Montreal Allouettes 17
    The CFL season kicked off with a bang at Molson Stadium, Montreal as the Allouettes were able to come from behind to defeat the Roughriders on opening day.
    Check out Andrew Kitchener’s Week 1 talking points.

    Lead by QB Darian Durant, who threw two touchdown passes for 233 yards, the Allouettes took the lead with 2:29 remaining through Boris Bede. Not short on controversy, Allouettes were on the wrong side of a fumble call as Bakari Grant crossed for the Roughriders in the second quarter.

    Losing the challenge the Allouettes fought back and two Durant touchdown passes in the second and fourth quarters pivotal in the win. A last play field goal attempt from the Roughriders wasn’t enough for the home team, as Tyler Crapigna kicked wide giving the Allouettes the win.

    Ottawa Redblacks 31 drew. Calgary Stampeders 31
    The Grey Cup rematch was pencilled in as soon as the 2017 CFL schedule was announced. It didn’t disappoint as each traded blows and both teams unable to get the edge after regulation time to send the game into overtime.

    Stampeders QB Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 376 yards and two touchdowns, while Redblacks Trevor Harris threw 300 yards for three touchdowns, including one pass and miraculous catch from Joshua Stangby, with one interception. In overtime Bret Maher and Rene Paredes both kicked field goals as the game ended in a tie.

    The match wasn’t short on controversy with two fumble calls going to review, with the Stampeders lucky to escape a call against Kamar Jorden who appeared to have fumbled the ball prior to knee touching the ground.

    BC Lions 27 def by. Edmonton Eskimos 30
    A thriller at BC Place would see the Eskimos fight off a fast finishing Lions to hold on for a three point victory. Eskimos QB Mike Reilly threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns, none more important than throw to Brandon Zylstra for a 76-yard gain setting up a field goal attempt by Sean Whyte that would turn out to be the winner.

    After giving up an early lead, BC lead by QB Jonathon Jennings – 264 yards on 22/34 completion – started gearing up a revival with a successful rushing game through Jeremiah Johnson who had 92 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t enough however, as Reilly and new rookie wide receiver D’haquille Williams – who ran for 110 yards and one touchdown – proved too strong down the stretch, as a late Lions field goal attempt from Ty Long went wide.

    Hamilton Tiger-Cats 15 def by. Toronto Argonauts 32
    A rival clash at BMO Field rounded out week one of the CFL as the Argonauts were able to take care of the Tiger-Cats by 17 points, off the back of a strong defensive effort which caused Hamilton trouble all day.

    Lead by QB Ricky Ray, with a career high 506 yards and one touchdown, he was able to connect with wide receivers Jeff Fuller, S.J. Green and Deveir Posey who all passed 100 yards on the day. Hamilton held scoreless in the first quarter, they gave up a two-point safety through Sergio Castillo but scored 12 in the second to only trail by three at the half.

    However, they were unable to hold off a fast finishing Toronto as the Argonauts scored 17 second half points to three to run away with the game.

    Week 2 sees a replay of the Grey Cup fixture with Ottawa travelling to Calgary to face the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium, BC Lions will travel to Toronto as the Argonauts host back to back home games as they look to start the season 2-0, while Montreal will travel to Edmonton.

    Perhaps the most anticipated game of the week comes from the game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who play their first game of the season, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be opening their new $278 million Mosaic Stadium on the 150th Canada Day celebrations.

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