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CFL Week Two Recap: Riders, Bombers impress

Week two of the 2021 CFL season is in the books after eight of the league’s nine teams took the field this past weekend. The Ottawa Redblacks got an early week off as they got the bye this time around. Strong defense continues to be the story in the early season as three of this week’s four losing teams scored less than ten points, with 13 being the highest point total out of the four losers. Even on the winning side, 33 points sits as the highest-scoring game so far this season, with no team surpassing the 30-point mark in week two.

BC at Calgary

The BC Lions came into Calgary and picked up a huge road victory over the Stampeders on Thursday night. Quarterback Michael Reilly completed 26 of his 33 pass attempts for 342 yards in the win. The Lions were only able to find the endzone once in this one, but thanks to six forced turnovers, they were able to hold Calgary out of the endzone entirely, despite Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s 290 passing yards. His four interceptions to Reilly’s zero was the deciding factor in this game. Bryan Burnham and Lucky Whitehead served as Reilly’s go-to receivers, each surpassing the 100-yard mark. Burnham racked up 121 yards including a 61-yard connection in the second quarter, while Whitehead caught all six passes thrown his direction for 108 yards. Reilly scored the lone touchdown in the second quarter on a one-yard quarterback sneak as the Lions came away with the 15-9 victory. BC improves to 1-1 while Calgary falls to 0-2 after two weeks of CFL football. Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson is searching for answers following his squad’s poor start to the season.

“I have to look at the tape,” said Dickenson, trying to come up with an explanation for his team’s poor performance. “I mean, [Mitchell] was trying to make plays and sometimes you’ve just got to let them come to you. I didn’t think we protected him very well and I didn’t commit to the run game a lot. So mistakes and things for all of us to be better at.”

Toronto at Winnipeg

Zach Collaros completed 32 of his 40 pass attempts for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers took down the Toronto Argonauts in a 20-7 home victory on Friday night. Kenny Lawler caught ten of those Collaros passes for 99 yards while Nic Demski, Rasheed Bailey and Drew Wolitatsky added 68, 57 and 45 yards, respectively. Argonauts quarterback Mcleod Bethel-Thompson, who had a huge game last week against Calgary, struggled mightily in this one, going 10-for-20 for just 70 yards. He would be replaced by Nick Arbuckle in the third quarter. Down 10-0 late in the frame, Arbuckle would lead his team to a 75-yard touchdown drive to bring the Argos within three heading into the fourth. However, a Demski touchdown followed by a late field goal by Tyler Crapigna would ice the game for Winnipeg as they improved to 2-0 on the year. Toronto falls to 1-1.

Montreal at Edmonton

The Montreal Alouettes picked up a convincing road win over the Edmonton Elks in their first CFL game of the 2021 season on Saturday night. William Stanback rushed for 112 yards on 18 carries while quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 211 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions for Montreal. BJ Cunningham was Adams’ top target, catching 5 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. The Als led by as many as 24 in the wire-to-wire effort, with the turning point coming in the second quarter when Mario Alford returned a punt for an 86-yard touchdown, opening up a 14-point Montreal lead. Elks quarterback Trevor Harris threw for 233 yards while James Wilder rushed for 85 on 15 carriers in the losing effort. Montreal improves to 1-0 with the 30-13 win while Edmonton falls to 0-2. Als head coach Khari Jones credited his starting quarterback for the win.

“Vernon had a solid game, he didn’t turn the ball over which is big,” said Jones. “He was smart with the football. He gave the guys a chance to catch the ball and was making solid reads throughout the game. It was a good start for him.”

Hamilton at Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats clashed in the second half of Saturday’s CFL double-header. The Riders were sharp in all facets of the game, picking up an impressive 30-8 home win over the Ticats. Cody Fajardo threw for 2 touchdowns and 222 yards on 17-for-25 passing while William Powell rushed for 89 yards on 18 carries. Kyran Moore and Mitchell Picton each caught a touchdown pass and Fajardo ran for one, as the Riders offense put up 30-or-more points for the second consecutive game; the league’s best offense through two weeks, by far. Hamilton’s Jeremiah Masoli threw for 135 yards but gave up 2 interceptions in the loss. Saskatchewan joins Winnipeg as the only two teams in the CFL to sit at 2-0 through two weeks of action. Hamilton drops to 0-2. Fajardo praised his offensive line after the game for the great job they did in protecting him.

“I’m so proud of that offensive line. They did a tremendous job,“ said Fajardo. “I’m really proud of those big guys upfront. I gotta get them some food, or get the something nice, because they kept me pretty clean all night.”

Week Three

Next week’s action kicks off on Thursday night with the Elks visiting the Lions in BC, followed by Alouettes at Stampeders on Friday. And finally it will be the Blue Bombers and Argonauts from Toronto followed by Redblacks at Roughriders on Saturday in another double-header.