Week three of the 2021 CFL season wrapped up on Saturday night following another mid-weekend double-header. Once again, eight of the league’s nine teams were in action this week, with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats enjoying their first bye week of the early season. Defense remains a strong point for most of the teams across the nation. However, the offenses may have gained just a little bit of traction, following week two where the four losing teams scored a combined 37 points. All in all, it was another good week of CFL football, featuring some close games and one wild finish.
Edmonton at BC
The Edmonton Elks picked up their first win of the new CFL season on Thursday night in Vancouver. After really struggling to put points on the board in their first two games, the Elks were able to generate some offense in this one. While they only put 21 points, quarterback Trevor Harris had a nice game under centre, throwing for 296 yards and a touchdown on 26-31 passing. Greg Ellingson was his main target, catching 9 of the 10 passes thrown his way for 148 yards, and James Wilder Jr. ran for 127 yards on 22 carries. Edmonton struggled to put the ball in the endzone, but that set up a big night for kicker Sean Whyte who nailed 4 field goals, including two from beyond 50 yards out.
The BC Lions failed to find an offensive spark in the loss. Their zero turnovers kept them in the game, but 184 yards of total offense is not usually going to get the job done. BC quarterback Michael Reilly felt his team did not play to their potential.
“Not good enough,” said Reilly, speaking to his team’s effort. “Really, from the first snap of the game, it seemed like we just didn’t match the intensity that Edmonton was bringing.”
Edmonton takes it, 21-16 on the road. Both teams now sit at 1-2 on the season.
Montreal at Calgary
The Calgary Stampeders got their first win of the season on Friday night, in front of their home crowd at McMahon Stadium. With starter Bo Levi Mitchell sidelined due to injury, rookie quarterback Jake Maier got his first career CFL start for the Stampeders, and he made the most of it. The 24-year-old threw for 304 yards and a touchdown in his debut, although he did throw 2 interceptions. Josh Huff and Markeith Ambles were on the receiving end of the majority of Maier’s yardage, racking up 128 and 113 yards, respectively.
On the other side of the ball, Vernon Adams threw for 261 yards on 42 pass attempts, rushed for another 65, and added 2 touchdowns and 1 pick for the Montreal Alouettes. Receiver Jake Wieneke caught 8 passes for 106 yards, and William Stanback racked up 82 rushing yards on 15 carries in the loss.
This one had a wild ending. Following a Calgary touchdown that put the Stamps up 28-14 with less than ten minutes remaining, the Alouettes looked all but defeated. But a Calgary turnover and Vernon Adams-Quan Bray touchdown connection brought the Als within 6 with three minutes left on the clock. They would then force a two-and-out and march the ball the length of the field, starting from their own 18-yard-line. Finally, on the game’s last play, Adams found Eugene Lewis who made a spectacular diving catch at the front endzone. However, while Lewis left his feet from the endzone, the ball never crossed the plane; Montreal would be marked out of bounds on the one-yard-line after video review as the game concluded. Calgary wins it, 28-22 the final. They improve to 1-2 while the Alouettes suffer their first loss of the season and fall to 1-1.
Winnipeg at Toronto
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers visited the Toronto Argonauts in game one of Saturday evening’s double-header. Canadian quarterback Nick Arbuckle made his first career CFL start in place of Mcleod Bethel-Thompson, and did not disappoint. The 27-year-old signal-caller completed 23 of his 32 passing attempts for 310 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. DaVaris Daniels caught 7 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown and DJ Foster rushed for 101 on 10 carries.
Zach Collaros threw for 204 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception for Winnipeg, but the Bombers failed to gain traction in the run game, finishing with just 32 total rushing yards.
Arbuckle was thrilled to have a special person in attendance for his debut.
“This was the first game that my daughter’s ever been to.” Arbuckle said with a smile. “And we got the win.”
With a 30-23 final score in favor of Toronto, Winnipeg suffers its first loss of the early season, falling to 2-1. The Argos now sit at the top of the East, also with a 2-1 record.
Ottawa at Saskatchewan
The Saskatchewan Roughriders remain perfect after a 23-10 route of the Ottawa Redblacks on Saturday night. They sit as the CFL’s only undefeated team through three weeks of action, as they head into their first bye week of the season with a 3-0 record. Cody Fajardo was magnificent, passing for 321 yards on 30-35 passing, and zero interceptions. He also rushed for 47 more yards, and the game’s only touchdown on a two-yard quarterback sneak. Kicker Brett Lauther came up big for the Riders as well, connecting on all five of his field goal attempts in the win. He sits at a perfect 9-9 on the season.
Receiver RJ Harris had a big night for the Redblacks, tallying 101 yards on 5 receptions, but Ottawa could not get much out of anyone else in the loss. They fall to 1-1 on the year.
Fajardo would have liked to see his team finish more drives with touchdowns instead of field goals, but understands that winning is most important at the end of the day.
“Touchdowns would have been nice, but as long as we’re winning football games the stats don’t matter,” Fajardo said.
Next week’s CFL action kicks off on Thursday night with the Elks heading to Toronto for a meeting with the Argos, followed by a Friday night matchup between the Ti-Cats and the Alouettes. The Lions will then visit the Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, and finally the season’s first Sunday night game will feature the Stamps and Blue Bombers from Winnipeg. The undefeated Riders will get the week off.