SANDLOT FOOTBALL FINALE
Saturday, November 5, 2005
Renegades 27, Toronto 17
This was more of a circus than a football game. There were interceptions galore, and the sideshow of Joseph trying to reach 1000 yards in rushing. It was a bit of an adventure, but he finally got there, earning a $10,000 bonus and a unique spot in CFL history along with Allen (who watched the game from the sidelines) and Ham as the only other QBs to reach the 1000+ rushing milestone. It will likely be his final shining moment in an Ottawa uniform, as it isn't likely he'll be back with his $300,000 price tag. Perhaps he and Paopao will end up together somewhere next year, stranger things have happened. Like this entire season.
It has all left me a bit speechless. We have an unproven new coach, and will probably start the year without a proven quaterback. It's like the franchise hasn't made any progress at all. And yet, I've renewed my season tickets. See you in the stands!
FANS DENIED MEANINGFUL FINAL GAME
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Renegades 23, Alouettes 43
Ottawa fans really are a tremendous bunch. Can you believe it, the mood was optimistic. Optimistic I say! The planets were all aligning just right for the Renegades to squeek into the playoffs. Montreal had nothing to play for. It was a beautiful fall day with a crowd of more than 20,000 (not bad for a team with a 6-10 record). And Toronto would have nothing to play for the following week. So all Ottawa would need is a couple of easy wins over teams playing back-up players, and then BC would beat Saskatchewan, and hello playoff!
And then the game started. Please, anything but that. Not another blocked punt for a touchdown on the first offensive series. Sigh. Yes, another one.
To their credit the Renegades played a pretty good first half. Maybe one of the best of the year. But they couldn't sustain it. Montreal came out for the second half clearly having made adjustments, and they made Ottawa look rather helpless at times. It was bitterly disappointing for the Renegades faithful, who had to put up with Montreal fans (perhaps 5000 strong!) celebrating their victory. Most of them started celebrating long before the Als victory was clear, so it was a rather long afternoon.
Among the lowlights there were some higlight. Josh Ranek did some hard running and to the delight of fans broke the 1000 yard barrier. Armstead broke club records for receptions and yards, and Collier got in the books too with his 12th sack.
Another bright spot is that whatever doubts were left about the future of Joe Paopao have now been resolved. Joe is gone, and clearly it's time. Next week fans will say their goodbyes, and the ownership appears eager to move on. Expect formal announcements to be made starting the Monday after the game.
HAMILTON COMES TO PLAY, TOO LITTLE TOO LATE FROM RENEGADES
Friday, October 21, 2005
Renegades 32, Ticats 40
More than 26,000 turned out in Hamilton to watch rookies Jesse Lumsden and Kevin Eakin combine with opportunistic defence to down the Renegades and leave Ottawa with one last chance to make the playoffs. To those with mixed feelings about Joe Paopao's pending departure from Ottawa, look to this game to clarify those feelings. The team was not properly prepared, there's just no other way to say it. Much of the blame lies with the coaching staff. As usual, the Renegades woke up when the game was almost over, and as usual (for the second half of the season) they couldn't quite get it done.
RENEGADES KEEP HOPE ALIVE
Friday, October 7, 2005
Renegades 43, Ticats 21
It was a miserable walk over the bridge, looking up at an empty stadium at 6:45 PM. A strange sight awaited on the sidewalk just outside the statdium: a group of young men apparently purchasing tickets from one of the regular scalpers. A curious sight indeed. Perhaps a good omen.
Entering the stadium there was much joking around about the foolishness of braving the elements to watch what could well be remembered as the last meaningful game of the season. A loss tonight, and with just 5 wins and a bye next week, Ottawa would likely be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs before the rematch in Hamilton on October 21.
Listening to Team 1200 on the way in the tone was very negative, and suggested fans would be in for a low-scoring battle of the running games. There was the usual chatter about yet more changes to the Renegades offensive line. They weren't exactly right about the ground game, but the offensive line was definitely one key to this important victory.
In the first series of the game Ottawa fans got a look at Jessie Lumsden. He had a couple of nice runs, but did not impress much the rest of the game. The initial Ticats drive ended with a nice wind-aided 48-yard Boreham field goal. Hamilton was looking pretty good, and who could have guessed they would not score again until the second half.
The Renegades started a 27-0 scoring streak in the first half starting with a 35-yard connection between Joseph and Woodcock. Woodcock had to turn around and wait for the ball. He got smacked on the 3 as he brought the ball in, and the momentum of the hit carried him into the endzone for the score.
Near the end of the first quarter Ottawa was driving into Hamilton territory when Marcus Howell fumbled what would have been a first down catch along the north sideline. A Hamilton player scooped up the ball and the Ticats were awarded posession, but the replay clearly showed the player was out of bounds before touching the ball. The fans let loose with some good-natured booing and friendly taunts of: "Hey ref, check the replay, you f___ing son of a b___!" (See my comments on the previous Renegades game if this isn't making sense to you).
The defense held again, and after Ottawa got the ball back a long fumbled snap forced Ottawa to punt. Lezi covered the kick perfectly and nailed the returner on the spot where he caught the ball. It was one of many nice special teams plays on the night for Ottawa.
Ottawa did run effectively tonight, but also stretched the defense with more long passes than fans have seen in recent memory. Early in the second quarter Ranek moved the ball and opened things up for the passing game as Armstead made a beautiful grab at 12:40 down to the Hamilton 40.
Ranek then blasted through the Hamilton D (thanks to some terrific blocking by the o-line) all the way down to the 10. Ranek took it again and fought his way to the 2, and Joseph finished it off - thanks again to the power of the o-line - with a sneak over the middle. 14-3 Ottawa.
McManus was having a hard time passing, mostly overthrowing his receivers. At 9:55 he did complete a pass, but unfortunately for Hamilton, it was right into the gut of an o-lineman, resulting in much joyous laughter from Ottawa fans, and head-shaking from the decent turnout of Ticat fans.
After an exchange of punts Hamilton was pinned deep, and McManus was running for his life. He tossed up a brick that was intercepted by Crance Clemons, who had a fantastic game. Ottawa did nothing with the nice field position, but the Ticats were stopped again on their ensuing posession. Again, the nice field position accomplished very little, but Matt Kellett showed his leg may finally be close to 100% as he was successful from 48-yards, much to the surprise of this humbled writer, who admits to screaming "He'll never make it from there!" 17-3 Ottawa with just over 2:00 remaining.
As every Ottawa fan knows, this has been the "danger time" for the Renegades throughout the massive mid-season losing streak. Would history repeat? It appeared so. Hamilton started to drive into Ottawa territory, a drive that was prolonged by sloppy tackling on a short Yeast reception that turned into a first down.
Tonight was a bit of a coming out party for Kai Ellis, who turned back the clock to his high school days, running around the field as a linebacker. He was a presence, and once he gets used to being around the ball, he'll get some interceptions. He could have had two of them tonight, but the missed interceptions are much less important that his ability to be around the ball. He knocked down a pass on this drive, which made possible the exciting defensive play that came next.
McManus was picked by Da'Shann Austin who streaked up the sidelines. Although the Renegades website says Austin then fumbled, don't believe it. He was planning to lateral the ball the whole time, only he screwed it up. Fortunately it bounced to Kyries Hebert - probably the Renegades player of the year - who made some nice cuts and took it to the house for a 24-3 lead.
Joe Paopao appeared more than a little hungry for this win, and it impressed me that he took a timeout on the Hamilton posession after the kickoff, hoping to get the ball back. It turned out to be a big play, because Kellett managed to boot a 53-yarder and Ottawa went in to towel off with a 27-3 lead.
There was no halftime show, but at least there was a lot to talk about. Like speculating about whether or not the Renegades would allow the Ticats to come roaring back in the third quarter.
The Renegades offense certainly didn't do much to help prevent a Hamilton comeback. There was one decent drive early that featured three straight first downs on an Armstead catch of 15, a Joseph scramble of 18, and a Ranek run of 11. But it resulted in just a single point on a Kellett miss that went wide right. Earlier in the third Hamilton earned a single point of their own on a booming 62-yard punt by Boreham.
With Marcus Brady at QB the Ticats looked a little sharper on offense. A bomb down the sidelines to former Renegade DJ Flick would have gone for a TD had he not stepped out of bounds. But no matter, Brady threw another bomb to Peterson for the TD, and it was 28-11. The Renegade offense continued to fizzle, and soon the Ticats were back in Ottawa territory for another field goal. It was 28-14, Hamilton was now just two touchdowns behind, and the momentum had shifted.
The next posession by Ottawa was a critical one, and it got off to a decent start thanks to Jason Armstead, who retreated all the way to the 5 on a deep kickoff, but took it straight up the gut past the 35. But the offense sputtered again. Thankfully, the defence was up to the task, and forced Hamilton to punt deep from their own zone. Armstead then made a truly boneheaded play and allowed Boreham's short high punt to bounce. You could see it coming. Boreham raced up the field and grabbed at, as Armstead looked on in confusion.
The defense trotted back out and did their job. Kai Ellis flashed across the field and just missed an interception, and then Banks - who rarely sees a pass thrown his way lately - made a nice knockdown to produce the two-and-out.
It was time for the offense to lock up this game, and that's what they did. Lezi threw a perfect block to give Joseph time for a first down completion to Armstead, and then Woodcock dropped a Joseph bomb that fell off his chest just across the goal line. Woodcock made up for it with a first down catch after a nice scramble by KJ, and Howell scored from 14 yards out to put Ottawa up 35-14 at 7:20. It was time to relax at last.
What followed was one of the longest-lasting and amazingly-boring offenseive drives of all time, as the Ticats - allegedly in a hurry-up offense - worked their way down the field and finally scored on an 8-yard pass to Gilliam with 2:31 remaining. I wasn't the only person who actually cheered the end of the drive.
Ottawa recovered the short kick attempt, but Hamilton got the ball again, deep in their own end. The Ottawa defense showed no mercy, producing a turnover on downs, and narrowly missing out on a safety. Brad Banks then ran a second-down option where he had the choice to run or throw a shovel pass, but both options were covered and he ended up with an 8-yard TD to Harris. The scoring was completed on an 82-yard kickoff that went for a single. Final score: 43-21.
Ottawa did not dominate this game in the stats. The Renegades had 19 first downs to 16 by Hamilton, but trailed in total yards 327 to 347. Hamilton took 152 yards in penalties (just 81 for Ottawa) which certainly hurt, as did the two interceptions that went for 76 yards and included the Hebert touchdown.
Ottawa was just 13/28 passing, although most of those passes were attempted in the driving rain earlier in the game. Hamilton QBs combined for 23/52, as Hamilton's running game went AWOL with just 32 yards as compared to 143 for the Renegades.
The standouts on offense were the usual suspects: Armstead with 6 catches for 75 yards, and Ranek averaging better than 5 yards a carry with 74 yards on just 13 tries. And the entire offensive line gets a nod for showing their ability to move the pile when the team really needed it. Joseph was unspectacular but showed grit and toughness. He took some hard hits and delivered a few blows too.
On defense the play of Crance Clemons stood out. The rare times Banks was tested, he looked sharp. And Kai Ellis finally got a chance to show off the talent fans have been hearing about. Kyries Hebert was oustanding, and he's played that way almost every game this year.
The attendance was announced at 19069 leading yours truly and countless others to speculate that the Renegades for the first time returned to last year's tactic of announcing the number of tickets printed, rather than the number of people actually in the seats. The real attendance was probably in the area of 17000 which is nothing to be ashamed of on a cold rainy night on the heels of a horrible losing streak.
The Renegades now have a bye week, and not many serious injuries to deal with, the sole exception being perhaps Cam Yeow, an important contributor on special teams. The rest is bumps and bruises, so the team is in good physical health. The question is, will there be anything left to play for? Ottawa needs a lot of help. Catching Montreal for second seems to easiest option, but that means Ottawa beating Hamilton and Toronto AND the Alouettes need to take two losses AND Ottawa needs to beat Montreal on October 29.
The other option is defending against the crossover from the West by finishing in a tie (or better) against Calgary. The Stamps are currently 7-7 but without an experienced healthy quarterback.
In the end, all the Renegades can do is win their last three games, finish 9-9, and see what happens. 9 wins is usually enough to be in the playoffs, and it probably will be this year too. It won't be easy, and the toughest game of all might be the rematch in Hamilton on October 21st. If Ottawa comes back with a win - and that's a big "if" - there should be a boisterous crowd out to face Montreal on the 29th. I certainly hope so, because I know Section G will have plenty of visitors from Montreal cheering on the Als.
REFS AND ARGOS COMBINE TO TAKE OUT RENEGADES
Friday, September 29, 2005
Renegades 18, Argos 29
It was at the mid-point of the third quarter, Toronto leading Ottawa 17-11, and the biggest game of the year for the Renegades. Argo running back John Avery was trying for extra yards when the ball came loose on his way down - or when he was actually down - and it was ruled a live ball (no whistle blew, no flags were thrown, no arms were waved) and Greg Moss scooped it up and took it 64 yards for the TD. The officials put their arms up and signalled touchdown, giving the Renegades the lead. Or not. The play was shown on the video screen, the Toronto fans booed, and the officiating crew started to huddle. Ottawa was already lining up for the convert. But then what used to be an impossibility occurred - the officials threw away the rule book, took the 6 points off the board, and gave the ball back to Toronto (no fumble).
To their credit, the Renegades did not give up, eventually pulling to within 22-18 thanks to a beautiful 75-yard pass to Armstead that went for a touchdown. But Damon Allen was able to reply with a 15-yard TD to Bruce, and the Renegades simply ran out of time.
CFL Commissioner Tom Wright gave Ottawa fans the middle finger with his lame explanation of the incident. He refused to acknowledge that an error had been made, when everyone - even Argos fans - know that the TD should not have been taken away.
REYNOLDS RUNS FOR YARDS, JOSEPH RUNS FOR HIS LIFE
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Renegades 23, Stampeders 45
The Renegades couldn't stop the Calgary running game, and made the mistake of injuring Jason Gesser who was replaced a less mistake-prone Danny Wimprine, who only needed to hand the ball successfully to Joffery Reynolds and refraind from throwing interceptions to cruise to victory. The Ottawa o-line did not show up for the game, and Ranek could not beat Calgary on his own. Neither could Kerry Joseph, who was running for his life most of the night. Playing against two unproven back-up quarterbacks should have meant this game was a gift for win-starved Ottawa. But instead the Renegades blew an early 16-7 lead and were totally outclassed in the fourth quarter.
OFFENSE GOES AWOL IN SECOND HALF, RENEGADES FADING FAST
Friday, September 16, 2005
Renegades 21, Blue Bombers 37
Walking the bridge from Ottawa South for this one I took one look at the face of the lonely scalper on the corner and knew not to expect much of a turnout. I extended my sympathies and he grumbled "f___ing rain eh?" and went back to his post under a tree.
It started out as a very lonely night in Section G. At 7:30 there was hardly a soul around. Section F was even worse, all those expensive red seats facing back at their empty cousins on the all-but-deserted South Side.
Despite the somewhat gloomy atmosphere, by gametime there was plenty of guarded optimism. It was noted that the large strip of missing pixels on the video screen had been fixed, and the recently transplanted endzone beaver lodge was looking about as good as it can look in its new home in the east. There was a talented singer with good pipes that got the crowd going with the singing of O Canada.
A lot of pregame musings focused on the continuing saga of the Renegade kicking game. Kellett would be handling punting and placekicking duties. A reasonably healthy Kellett certainly matches up against Westwood for field goals, but punting would be a different story against Ryan, who is routinely booming them fifty-plus in the air...with accuracy and with hangtime too.
The field position game was definitely a factor. For a lot of the game Ottawa's only escape from the shadow of their own goalposts seemed to be giving up points. Kerry Joseph provided a perfect illustration of this technique by offering up one of the shortest interceptions of all time. Attempting to throw a short lateral pass he put the ball right into the chest of Gavin Walls, who appeared to take the time to ask Joseph the question on the minds of Ottawa fans - "What the hell were you thinking?" - before strolling in for what will surely be the easiest TD of his career. On cfl.ca they said Walls "leaped up and grabbed" the interception, but don't believe it. He may have lifted his hands a bit, but that was about it.
But let's be fair. This early mistake was not the beginning of the end for Ottawa. The Renegades marched down the field led by Ranek and tied the game up - overcoming their usual tendency in this recent losing streak to choke in the red zone - with a nifty 8-yard touchdown catch and run by Josh Ranek.
The Winnipeg offense was looking less than spectacular despite a lineup of talented receivers and the always dangerous Charles Roberts in the backfield. When Ottawa got the ball back Kerry Joseph had a big run on a critical second down. On a rare carry Hathaway pushed his way to within inches of a first on another critical second down making possible an easy conversion on third and one, and then some hard running by Ranek led the way to a 14-7 lead.
Things were looking good. The defense shut down the Bombers again, and the Renegades got the ball back, but were forced to punt. Kellett got a pretty good one away, but Stokes beat just about every Ottawa player (some of them twice!) on the return and only a saving tackle by Lezi prevented a TD.
The stats for the first quarter showed the Bombers were lucky to be only 7 points down. 146 yards for Ottawa, and 16 yards for Winnipeg. But Winnipeg got moving in the second quarter. After the Ottawa defense stiffened and forced the Bombers into a field goal, an offside penalty against the Renegades provided a first down and the opportunity for Stegall to haul in a 24-yard pass for the 120th TD of his career.
Joseph again looked strong in marching the offense in response. Ranek had a big run thanks to a nice block by Quiroga. He also handed off to Armstead for a big gain on a reverse. Joseph had a beautiful 14-yard run on a broken play for the TD, and it was 21-14 with about 3 minutes to go in the half. Yes, a dangerous time for experienced Ottawa fans...the last minutes of the first half. Cue the ominous "something bad is about to happen" Murder She Wrote music.
There was at least one pleasing sight - Gerald Vaughn grinding Glenn into the ground on a sack on the ensuing Winnipeg drive. Daley decided not to go for a long field goal and we got a chance to see just how good a punter Ryan really is. His job was obviously to go for the corner, and that's exactly what he did. From the North Side hash mark he boomed a punt that seemed to land almost in the Renegades clubhouse, but it got marked at the 3 yard line. Armstead could do nothing but watch it go over his head. It was a big play.
At this point almost any experienced Ottawa fan could predict that the Renegades were going to end up giving up 2 in this situation. It was raining, against the wind, on the 3, with the lead, and getting close to the end of the half. Frankly, I don't have a problem with that bit of thinking, but go long I say. Yes, GO LONG. If you know you are going to give up the 2 failing a first down, take your shot. Winnipeg was swarming all over the run and short pass, when there's one-on-one coverage downfield waiting to be tested.
But instead it was the predictable run and attempted short pass, and Kellett gave up the safety. I don't like that play either. Snap it to Armstead or Howell instead, and let them try and find their way around the corner before leaving the endzone. Maybe they break it for a first down or more. Worst case you still give up the same 2 points. Best case you have one of those Bashir Levingston 100-yard touchdowns.
There was still a minute remaining, and you could almost feel it coming. Stegall hauled in a 42-yard bomb, and Roberts reeled off a 27 yard run. Thankfully Hebert tackeld Roberts and the Bombers had to settle for a short field goal. It was nice to see the Renegades in the lead at the half, but the events of the final 3 minutes were less than inspiring. It felt like the home crowd deserved more than a two-point lead.
It was worth punishing your bladder for the first few minutes of halftime, which featured a huge group of young women in a contest to win tickets to see Oprah. The idea was to tackle Ruffy. One of the eager contestants attempted to get a Jerry Seinfeld style lead on her rivals, but got caught and there was a restart. Despite being impeded by his large furry feet, Ruffy looked a bit like Charles Roberts out there, thanks to the tendency of the young ladies to overpursue on his cuts. But an inspired Ashley Dillon would not be deterred, and she appeared to take Ruffy down rather hard. I'm telling you, it was a wicked hit.
Ruffy had no choice but to shake it off and get back at it, because there was no further entertainment for the remainder of the break. Unless you consider Ruffy dancing to "Let's Get Retarded" entertaining. I wouldn't mind never hearing that song again - or seeing Ruffy dance to it. It was just about as ugly as the upcoming quarter.
The third quarter looked like two very bad teams going at it in the rain. Lots of "two-and-out" going on. For things worth watching, I recall a great tackle by Yeow around the 12-minute mark, Clemons with a near-interception, and Taylor with a terrific sack on Glenn using nothing but his outstretched hands. Bearman made a nice play to contain Stokes on a punt return, and Austin made a nice hit to break up a pass with about 5:30 remaining.
With nothing much happening elsewhere, I paid my usual close attention to the commercial breaks, including the spin-around-and-run contest that featured yet another cheater from the South Side who spun around maybe three times before running to the endzone and winning his ill-begotten prize. The poor guy from the North Side actually did the full ten spins, got dizzy, and fell down producing laughs and heckles. Sort of like what the Renegades did in the fourth quarter.
Near the end of the third Kellett narrowly dodged a punt-blocker resulting in a short punt returned to the Ottawa 46. Winnipeg then ran the ball 7 times in a row (Roberts x 6, Glenn x 1) ending with a 4-yard Roberts TD. Winnipeg makes a 2-point convert, takes the lead 27-21, and never gives it up.
Ah, but what might have been. On the next drive Ranek ran for 29 yards on a short pass making a long field goal try a possibility. Of course it should not have been necessary, since Yo Murphy dropped a sure TD catch around the 10 off a beautiful Joseph pass, but what can you do? Yo hardly ever drops a pass. It was just one of those nights.
The CFL stats say the FG try was from 41, but I am pretty sure it was from 49. In any event, Kellett hit it dead straight down the middle, and it struck the centre of the crossbar and tumbled forward. 0 points, Winnipeg ball on the 25. Very deflating for Ottawa fans and players alike.
Attendance was announced at 17,567. They say they are only reporting real attendance at the games this year, and I think they have been, but that figure looked a little inflated looking over at the South Side. However, it is a fact (they won't admit it) that many Southsiders crossed over at half time and ended up sitting under the North Side roof. Perhaps they just had a few too many beers and got confused.
The Ottawa defense and coverage teams clearly were getting tired of trying to tackle Stokes and Roberts. They are definitely an annoying combination of players. Stokes doesn't seem to have breakaway speed anymore, but he can still make guys miss, sometimes two or three times during the same kick return. Charles Roberts can still make defenses look stupid, and he did that on many occasions on this night.
A steady dose of Roberts brought Winnipeg deep into Ottawa territory but the defense stiffened and Ryan went back to punt. The snap was low, and it looked like the Renegades had the big break they needed. But Ryan scooped it up and ran to the north sideline, getting just enough for the first down, thanks to a generous spot by the officials. Ouch. Westwood eventually booted another short field goal and it was 30-21 and most of what was left of the Ottawa fan base started to filter out of the stands.
Ah, but maybe there would be a Miracle-Against-Montreal style comeback in the offing. Joseph ran for 24 yards and with more than 2 minutes remaining the faithful were clinging to faint hope. But a Joseph fumble followed by an incomplete pass and a desperate third down scramble that fell short of first-down yardage put an end to things.
The final Ottawa possession was somewhat entertaining. Jason Armstead (there's a name we didn't hear enough of in the first 59 minutes) hauled in a 31 yard pass, Howell got one for 14, and the Renegades were on the 30. Alas, Joseph was stripped of the ball while retreating from the pass rush and Walls (yeah, the same Walls that got the interception) ran for a 79-yard fumble recovery touchdown. 37-21, and that's all she wrote folks!
It's another one of those games where the basic stats don't match up easily with the score. Glenn was just 15-of-29 passing. Joseph was 19-for-29 and had a combined 380 yards (100 rushing) and Ranek had more than 170 yards in combined running and catching. Ottawa had 25 first downs, Winnipeg just 17.
So what the hell happened here? Well, aside from the obvious (14 points Winnipeg scored on an interception and a fumble) the Bombers had 222 return yards compared to 98 for Ottawa. Ryan punted the hell out of the ball and easily won the field position battle. Roberts had 125 yards rushing, and made some big runs at critical times.
Ottawa forced Winnipeg to punt 10 times and Ryan responded with 473 gross yards, and the bigger stat: 451 net yards. It must be some sort of record. Those long punts did not translate into long returns. Armstead got 22 yards on 6 returns with a long of 8. On 473 yards of punts you have to expect more than 8 yards as the longest return. Field position was a killer in this one.
Joseph was not sacked all night (although he would have been on the fumble that went the other way for a TD) and Ottawa got to Glenn twice. Despite his very mediocre performance, Glenn did not make any big mistakes, and that was his most important contribution.
On defense there were some bright spots. Hebert usually has a good game, and he did it again with 6 tackles. Ellis made himself noticed tonight, also with 6 tackles. Moss rebounded from looking like a weak link against BC with 5 tackles of his own. Haywood had 3 tackles including one particularly hard whack that he put on Roberts.
Thanks to Montreal defeating themselves against BC on Saturday, Ottawa is still tied for second place in the East (Alouettes have a game in hand, however) and it looks like second place is what they will need to make the post-season. It won't be easy. Despite the loss Montreal showed they are still play like an elite team, even if they have looked very ordinary at times this year.
So next up is the Stampeders in Calgary on Thursday night, fresh off a strange win over a Tiger-Cats team that looked like hell for the entire second half. QB Jason Gesser, replacing the injured Burris, has a lot of talent but still has a lot to learn about the CFL game, although he certainly looked to be getting better and better as the game went on. Jessie Lumsden returned four kickoffs for 88 yards and perhaps he'll be in the backfield against Ottawa. He's a powerful looking dude and definitely not lacking in enthusiasm. With Gesser still figuring things out Ottawa should be preparing to stop the run and force Gesser to win through the air.
My advice for the Ottawa offense remains the same: no-huddle offense most of the time and a rolling pocket most of the time. It's worked well when done. Forget the hand-offs up the gut and the pocket passing, it just isn't the strength of this offense.
After Calgary it's Toronto on September 28th, and then finally back home against Hamilton on the 7th. The question is, will the season be over by the time the team gets back, or will the back-to-back games against Hamilton be about securing a playoff spot? Fortunately for Ottawa fans, the upcoming road games are both scheduled for TSN, so we'll have the chance to find out on the tube.
A final word (no pun intended) about Joe Paopao. Short of an incredible finish and a playoff victory, it's time for him to go. There are more problems with this team than Joe, but most of the fans don't want him anymore, and there's not much happening on the field to justify keeping him around. But it probably won't happen this year. Not officially. Depending on what happens in these next two away games, expect to hear stories about possible replacements cropping up in the local media.
I have to say I would not miss Joe Paopao. He doesn't inspire confidence as a fan, and although I am aware that many Renegade players are very passionate in defending him, I don't think he does much to inspire players either. Fans would rather have a winning team and players grumbling about how the coach is a meanie than a losing team and coach that is loved by all.
RENEGADES COLLAPSE ON FIELD, FRONT OFFICE POISED FOR SHENANIGANS
Thursday, September 8, 2005
Renegades 27, Lions 61
It's after games like this that I am glad nobody is paying me to write this column. I could definitely give you a full game description starting with the singing of the national anthem (nice voice, but please resist the temptation to change the song to suit your ego) right to the bitter end (credit the 1000 or so Carleton students in attendance for making a party out of this event, exhibiting a spirit reminiscent of an early 80s Gee Gees vs Ravens Panda Game - yes, "What the ____'s a Gee Gee!" never gets tired - not with that many beers in you).
I could talk about "what could have been" if Ottawa hadn't started the game with yet another blocked punt for a TD. Or if Joseph hadn't overthrown a wide open Howell after marching down the field with a chance to tie the game.
I could go on for pages and pages about special teams. How poor old Jason Armstead always seemed to be trying to beat the entire BC coverage team all by itself, while Lions kick returners kept burning up yardage on the strength of fundamental Ottawa errors (note to players who know who they are: when your job is outside containment, that means you don't let anyone get outside of you) and some unbelievably well-executed blocking schemes.
On the end of those blocking schemes (the very end) always seemed to be poor old Jason Kralt. Usually with at least 2 (and sometimes 3 - they always seemed to have players to spare) BC Lions pulling, pushing, and generally bashing him around as he tried in desperation to make last-man-back tackles. Jason Kralt may not be the fastest, biggest, strongest, or most talented Renegades player, but he knows what he is doing out there and never gives up. He made some of those tackles. Too bad he didn't have more upfield help.
Also in that never-give-up category would have to be Josh Ranek. He was in a similar situation as Armstead, in that most of his yards came off individual effort. He usually had sweaty paw prints all over him before he even got to the line of scrimmage. But he battled to the end, scraping and clawing for every yard. I'm sure he isn't very proud of it, but when he reached 100 yards for the game with some easier runs near the end, I hope he knows the loud crowd appreciation was genuine, not sarcastic. But I'm not going to go on about how the offensive line obviously isn't up to snuff, because that topic is getting almost as tired as trying to figure out when the Renegades are going to start a game with a healthy/talented punter and/or placekicker.
I could also talk about play selection, although when you lose this badly it hardly seems relevant. But if I was to talk about it, I'd definitely focus on the Renegades being inside the 5 and running a negative-yardage goofy-looking slow-developing running play on first down, and ending up with a field goal. That one had me - and I am sure just about everyone else who cares - steaming mad. If you want to do that sort of crap, use your mobile quarterback and let him run around back there. At least that way (theoretically) he has a chance of completing a pass if the run scheme fails.
Note to Joe Paopao - just to let you know, at this point I don't think there's one fan - not even the mother(s) of the placekicker(s) - who wants to see a field goal following a first down inside the 10 yard line again this season. We don't care if we lose the game as a result. You need the 7 points. Trust us. We've been watching football in Ottawa longer than you have. And our chances of making the field goal aren't all that good anyway.
Speaking of steaming mad - not that I want to talk about it - but what was the Ottawa defense doing just before the half when they decided to sit back and watch as Dickenson marched effortlessly down the field in a few seconds allowing BC to end the half with a successful field goal, thus eliminating the little bit of momentum that the Renegades might have had going into the half? They played like they were protecting a 40-point lead, not preparing to come back from a 14-point - er, make that 17-point - deficit.
Ah, the half. Perhaps the highlight of the entire experience, at least in the North Side, where we didn't have the thrill of the impromptu paper airplane contest in the South Side. A big group of boys from the Canadian Army put on a great show, disassembling and reassembling some sort of big freaking Howitzer sort of gun after transporting the parts over an imaginary chasm. They got a standing ovation, and were rewarded with the punishment of watching the second half of the football game from the stands. Well, at least they had some fun interacting with the cheerleaders.
Reading up on mainstream media articles before the game I was feeling rather gloomy. There were articles about Wally Buono not being liked by his players, and how nice it is to play for Paopao. Hmm. That would be great if it was a coach's job to be liked. And I am sure it is fine for the purely self-motivated. But I think the "do what you are supposed to do out there or I have three different guys eager to replace you" works better for most players. Looking at Buono's coaching record it certainly seems to be effective.
There were articles stating the obvious about Paopao's GM title, and how Forest Gregg has every part of the GM job except the title. Whatever is going on there, one thing is for certain, the Renegades haven't been doing enough to bring in players not only to replace the injured but also to challenge the unmotivated.
Sitting in the stands on a beautiful September evening before the game I shared half-jokingly with my comrades that the Gliebermans would never be able to resist the idea of bringing in "celebrity quarterback" Jesse Palmer, an Ottawa native who appears destined to flunk out of the NFL. He'd certainly bring in fans and he might even turn out to be a decent CFL quaterback. But we're in the latter half of a season where fans were hoping to watch the home team in a playoff game, and now it's "here we go again" with the media sideshow. If you are really going to sign the guy, do what you have to do and announce it. But right now it's just another big and non-productive distraction. Well, at least this time around it's not about Dexter Manley.
Meanwhile, the season continues, and the Blue Bombers are in town on Saturday night. A win, and Ottawa is back at .500, and still has a great opportunity (on paper) to make the playoffs. After Calgary on September 22, the Renegades have all their games against Eastern Division rivals, including three games at home (one each against Hamilton, Montreal, and Toronto) and on the road against Toronto and Hamilton. The easiest road to the playoffs is likely to finish second in the East (or, dare to dream, first) where you can't be knocked off by a crossover from the West.
For now even Hamilton is still in the playoff hunt, and none of these games are likely to be easy victories. But we aren't talking BC Lions here. These are teams that can be beaten. And it's the team we have right now that is going to have to do it.
RENEGADES DROP TWO ON THE ROAD
Saturday, August 19, 2005
Renegades 17, Blue Bombers 38
Friday, September 2, 2005
Renegades 18, Alouettes 41
The scores were similar, and so was the main problem: the Renegades offense could not put the ball in the endzone. They took on a Winnipeg team that is peaking under QB Kevin Glenn when only a month ago commentators were writing off their entire season. They also caught the Alouettes at a bad time - desperate for a win and in unfamiliar territory at below .500. The Renegades are now tied for second with Montreal in the East, and fans are now worrying about the playoff crossover from the West, with Calgary, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg far from out of it.
Just like a 5-5 record indicates, it's hard to tell what this Renegades team is all about. The defense often dominates other teams, but they often run out of gas, because they have to spend too much time on the field. The offense sometimes drives down the field like the other team isn't even there, but more often than the offense doesn't show up until the second half. Perhaps most frustrating of all, the offense consistently racks up decent yardage, but can't turn it into points.
What's also frustrating - and at the same time exciting for Ottawa fans - is that if the team could find a way to fire on all cylinders all at the same time, they'd be among the league's elite teams.
As the season progresses, a positive for the Renegades could be their health. There were no significant injuries in the Montreal game, and aside from the ongoing saga of the injured kickers (it's getting to be almost laughable at this point) the team is in pretty good shape.
FANS COME ALIVE, PUSH OTTAWA TO TOP IN THE EAST
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Renegades 22, Roughriders 17
After two straight wins on the road the Renegades finally crossed the 20,000 mark in attendance, and every one of those fans who came to cheer for the home team helped make a difference in this game. As has been the frequent pattern with the 2005 Renegades, it all came down to a come-from-behind effort in the fourth quarter. This time around the deficit was only 2 points, but when the score is 17-15 and points hard to come by, there was no particular reason to feel confident. Thankfully - and somewhat uncharacteristically for the majority of the Ottawa faithful - fans got behind their team instead of sitting quietly and imagining the worst. Given the results, hopefully Frank Clair stadium will be rocking just as hard in future games!
It got started with one of many nice punts by Pat Fleming and a spectacular one-handed shoestring tackle by Kyries Hebert that put the Roughriders in a hole on their own 12. Although a TV timeout is often a crowd-killer, with 7:25 remaining Ottawa fans figured it out: the defense is going to have to win this game for us, and we need to help them. Korey Banks and other Renegades defenders waved their arms in support, and the noise level grew to levels that had football-ignorant passers-by wondering if the Rolling Stones were in town early.
You'd think a nice 11-yard run by Corey Holmes might have deflated the enthusiasm, but the importance of this particular defensive stand and its implications for the entire season were not lost on anyone. The loud cheering and jeering was sustained despite another Saskatchewan first down on a frustrating 6-yard catch and roll. With 5:17 remaining the noise level hit capacity, and Marcus Crandell (playing in place of the injured Nealon Greene) may well have been rattled, because he made a poor decision by giving Banks a chance to jump in front of a pass near the north sideline and return the interception deep into Saskatchewan territory.
Kerry Joseph did not have a good game through the air, despite a beautiful 3 for 3 scoring drive at the start of the game. But he did not throw an interception and he used his feet effectively, including a confident first down scramble on a broken play following the Banks interception. From inside the 15 he kept the ball on a wide sweep to the right and was barely touched as he scampered over the line and with the convert (barely made by Kellet) it was 22-17 Renegades.
Obviously encouraged by the outcome of their last major cheering effort, the crowd came alive yet again. Once again the defense came through, and this time it was Bo Rogers getting in the way of a Crandell pass and catching his own deflection.
The offense just needed to get a few first downs, but it was not to be. A much-hated "hitch pass" (much-hated by any Ottawa fan who remembers Dan Crowley) on second down failed miserably and Fleming came out for yet another punt. No doubt under strict orders to get it out of bounds, it was a short punt that gave the Roughriders the ball in decent field position with more than enough time to march downfield for the winning touchdown.
The crowd strained their vocal chords to the max at this point, and kept it up even as Crandell brought Saskatchewan within striking distance. There were a couple of very close calls. Quincy Coleman made a nice endzone knockdown with just over 30 seconds remaining.
At this point, perhaps wrongly inspired by the crowd energy, a spectator took to the field and led a lone security official on a long chase for most of the length of the field. He put on a pretty good move and reversed his field, heading back west. He tried a similar move on a different member of the security team, but went down thanks to textbook tackle near midfield. The crowd was appreciative of yet another fine defensive effort, and returned to cheering on the Renegades defense.
Crandell was now facing third down with less than 20 seconds remaining and he went for the endzone again, taking advantage of the physical mismatch between 5'7 Moss and 6'3 Richardson. It was a beautiful pass that was clearly right on target, and Moss appeared out of position. As the ball arrived he reached around and hacked at the forearms of Richardson who dropped the ball. All Ottawa eyes scanned the field for flags, but finding none, they took their screams of joy to a new level.
Moving down the corridors and ramps at the end of the game it was slow going. The usual 40% or so of "gotta beat the traffic" fans decided to stay until the end of this one, and the walk across the Bank Street bridge was like a glorious victory march, as elated fans took over a full lane and made their way into Old Ottawa South.
The chatter in Section G at the start of the game was all about how both teams were in desperate need of a victory. On paper perhaps it looked as though Saskatchewan needed it more, but savvy Ottawa fans know better. The next home game is not until September, and this game was critically important not only for points in the standings but for ensuring a decent draw for future games. Nothing gets couch-sitters thinking about coming out to the park more than the word "playoffs."
Getting back to the start of the game, Ottawa's own Tammy Laverty, a former Rough Rider cheerleader (and currently a successful entertainer of sorts, according to Don Brennan) got things going with one of those slower versions of O Canada that gets you dreaming about the band in Slapshot (they could play the entire American anthem in about 14 seconds). It eventually came to an end, and the on-field performance began. On the first play there were many shouts of RUN! RUN! as Joseph stepped up in the pocket, but instead he hit Woodcock down the sidelines for close to 50 yards. That was followed by a slant to Murphy and then a pass over the middle to Hathaway for the score. Yes, just like that, 7-0.
Pat Fleming handled the ensuing kickoff, providing a clear hint that Kellet might not yet be at full capacity as a placekicker.
Later in the quarter a big hit jarred the ball loose on a punt return, and the fumble was recovered by Ottawa. The Renegades were soon in striking distance and appeared to have a touchdown and/or an interference call in the endzone, but instead it was a Saskatchewan interception.
It looked like the Renegades were going to answer back with an interception on a long pass up the middle, but the ball bounced off the fingertips of Banks and went for a 50-yard pass completion. The defense held and Ottawa ended up with the ball deep in their own end. The offense fizzled, and Fleming gave up a deliberate safety. 7-2.
This was about the time a little AC/DC or Quiet Riot might have helped wake up the crowd, but instead we were subjected to further selections in the "golden oldies" theme, which was definitely one of Lonie's worst ideas of the year. Those of you who are thinking "What about Mardi Gras?" well, I've got news for you. The south side upper deck is completely packed. While it was clearly promoted foolishly in the beginning, it's time to admit that it seems to be working. But back to the game...
With about 11 minutes left in the first half, the defense came through again with a big sack on Greene, but Kai Ellis got flagged for unecessary roughness and the Roughrider drive stayed alive. A few plays later Ellis got flagged again, and I had a perfect view of this one. It was a terrible call. Greene knew it too, and the grin on his face was mostly a smirk, as he offered his hand to help the steaming Ellis off the turf (Ellis declined the offer). Saskatchewan marched their way inside the ten and scored on a nice fake by Greene as he skipped into the endzone untouched, taunting the Renegades all the way.
With less than eleven minutes to go in the first half It was 9-7 Saskatchewan, and if that wasn't distrubing enough, the Southside representative in the Smirnoff touchdown dance contest was totally humiliated by a Northsider named "Big Al."
On the next Renegades posession Armstead made an amazing play along the north sideline by pulling his tackler several yards along the ground. The whistle did not blow until he went down, but the official spotted the ball back at the point where the defender first grabbed his ankle. The crowd was rather pissed off (justifiably) and communicated their feelings well. The bad spot forced a gamble on 3rd and 1, and Joseph did not make it by much.
Later in the drive Joseph made a nice rush down the south sideline and also took a hit out of bounds that added 15 yards to the play. Armstead made a very nice catch moving the ball to the 1, and Joseph took it in from there. 14-9 Renegades.
During the ensuing Roughriders posession an angry Ellis made a nice stuff on second down to force Saskatchewan into a punting situation. Robert Grant made a blatant block in the back that cost Ottawa some return yards and pushed them back to the 7. After almost failing on a third down gamble at the 17 (thanks to another bad spot by the officials) the offense fizzled again and a big punt was needed from Fleming, who delivered yet again. Yeow made a great tackle on the play and Saskatchewan started deep in their end.
Quincy Coleman made a nice interception and looked to be off to the races for 6, but he was whistled down. It appeared that he had never been touched by any Roughrider player, and the call was typical in a first half when the Renegades could well have been up by another couple of touchdowns had some very close calls gone their way.
Nothing came of the interception, and after another booming Fleming punt, Jason Kralt was blocked in the back (no call) and Hebert had to make a big saving tackle along the sidelines. Saskatchewan drove down to the 41 and with little time left on the clock elected to throw a hail mary rather than kick a field goal. It was a curious call, and when the pass fell incomplete, the half ended 14-9.
John T. Henri was put out of his misery and the "Sweet Caroline" half-time experiment was cancelled by Lonie tonight. The North Side continued their domination of the South Side with another contest victory on a nice toss of over 30 yards by the ProLine winner. I am sure no one (not even yours truly) would be insane enough to keep stats on contest victories, but I am betting it's been a long time since the North swept the South.
The half-time "show" featured the antics of the Little Miss Renegades. It's always fun watching a bunch of young people trying to perform any sort of mass choreography, but I have to say the entire "Little Miss" concept strikes me as a little freaky - I can't help thinking of child beauty pageants, even if this is clearly something different. Perhaps the first decent half-time show (notwithstanding the racing dogs) will come at the next game in September.
Crandell came out at QB for the Roughriders in the second half. I thought it was simply because Greene was underperforming, but learned later that it was due to an injury apparently resulting from one of the Ellis hits in the first half. Crandell did will with dink and dunk passes, but did fare much better than Greene on deeper routes. The two QBs were a combined 25-46 with 3 interceptions and 1 TD.
The big defensive play of the third quarter was the stuff of a third and one effort by Saskatchewan. I noted that when the chains came out after a nine yard gain on second down, the first down marker was positioned exactly at the Ottawa 35 yard line. Somehow on third down the chains stretched to the thirty-five-and-a-half! I'm going to assume they simply didn't pull the chain as far as they should have when they measured on second down. In any event, the officials owed us at least one.
On the Renegades posession Joseph took a wicked shot from Fred Perry of the variety that is a major foul in the NFL. But we're made of tougher stuff up here! Renegades veteran Johnny Scott was clearly winded by this point in the game and he wisely went down with 10 minutes remaining and took a bit of a rest. Speaking on 1200 after the game Paopao chuckled about Scott "running out of gas."
Attendance was announced at this time at 20607 and it brought lots of cheers. And the music seemed to get updated substantially, and there was even some AC/DC thrown in towards the end (the song was Thunderstruck, for all you Angus Young fans out there).
Crandell put a good drive together that featured a terrific catch by Holmes and some good running by Keith. It was finished off with a TD pass on a catch that seemed to be a trap, but through the grainy stadium replay it did look to be an impressive and legit grab by Moore.
The Renegades offense continued to fizzle, and Pat Fleming booted another fine punt that was well covered and Saskatchewan was again looking at a long field. Moss made a nice knockdown on Thurman that produced a two-and-out.
Armstead then caught a short wobbly punt on the fly and after one quick shift took it right up the gut to the Saskatchewan 35. Unfortunately Ottawa walked away with a single point on a missed FG by Kellet, who was clearly still nursing that sore groin.
Early in the fourth Collier made a great play to stuff a screen pass to Holmes. Ottawa was blitzing from the ends and the screen was a good call - if Collier hadn't sniffed it out.
And after displays of offensive impotency by both teams, we found ourselves at the 7:54 mark and the nice punt coverage tackle by Hebert that set up the fan participation and string of events that led to the Renegades victory.
Josh Ranek did not have much to show on the stat sheets tonight, but clearly the offensive line wasn't giving him much support. Joseph did well in dealing with a heavy pass rush all night. Getting sacked 4 times may not sound very good, but it should have been worse. 16 of 26 for 168 are not very impressive numbers, but KJ chipped in a team-leading 83 very big rushing yards on 13 carries. When Ottawa gets to playoff time (and it's time to start believing in that, by the way!) I'm predicting that KJ will assert himself with some dominant running. When he gets the green light from coaching staff to put his body on the line he's got the power to knock defenders out of their shoes. But for now I am glad he is using the hook slide wisely.
THIS AND THAT...
The kicking game remains a huge concern. If Kellet is "the guy" he needs to sit out until he is 110% healed up. It just doesn't make sense to use a kicker with a groin injury at this point in the season.
Kudos to Kevin Brown, unofficial Section B representative, who came over to say hello before the game and predicted a 24-19 Ottawa victory. Close enough, Kevin! Too bad the two teams don't meet again this season, mathematicians are predicting a 23-18 victory for the Renegades.
Korey Banks has the skill to match his mouth, and I just love the guy. That's 7 interceptions now, and he leads the league. Prior to the Bo Rogers inteception I spotted him dancing (right out on the field) during the timeout. You'd better be good to be that relaxed. And he is that good. The Renegades are apparently working hard to sign key players and prevent a big drain to free agency, and Banks is definitely on the list. A generous long-term offer has already been publicly extended to George Hudson, which is a clear indication that the days of the one-year "we'll have to wait and see if we can afford you after that" contracts may be over.
Fleming had an awesome game, both punting and kickoffs. Field position was very important in this contest, and he was definitely a factor.
Kenton Keith is a pain in the ass to tackle, and he got 138 yards thanks to a lot of second-effort plays. There were a small number of sloppy Ottawa tackles, but for the most part Keith just played well.
The Renegades are in Winnepeg next Friday against the Blue Bombers, who now have two victories to their name this year. The Renegades should be heavy favourites, and it will be interesting to see how they respond to that role. It's a big game, because 6 wins brings them within a game or two of being assured of a playoff spot. Losing this game would mean heading into their week off knowing they blew it, and facing what is sure to be a fired up Alouettes team on September 2 in Montreal.
The next home game is on the 8th when the B.C. Lions come to town. The Lions are still undefeated but they aren't perfect. And wouldn't it be nice if Ottawa could prove it? You can help out by being at the game. There are great seats available for just $25.
Saskatchewan was definitely keying on Ranek, not just on runs, but to cut off potential shovel passes, screens, and hitches. We need a second threat in the backfield (other than Joseph) and I'd like to see more of Ka'Ron Coleman, who did not have one offensive touch of the ball in this one.
It's not often I cheer for Montreal, but their ugly 18-10 win over the Argos on Friday leaves the Renegades alone in first place. Montreal and Toronto have played one less game, but Ottawa owns the tiebreaker against the Alouttes at this point in the season, and Toronto has the Eskimos next week. A Renegades victory over Winnepeg combined with an Argo loss would mean the Renegades will come back from their week off in first place regardless of what Montreal and Toronto might do. But I want to get out of the habit of worrying about what the other guys are doing - the Renegades just need to keep on winning, and they've got the talent and team chemistry to do it.
RENEGADES MAKE IT TWO IN A ROW ON ROAD, TAME TICATS
Saturday, August 6, 2005
Renegades 28, Tiger-Cats 12
There was speculation from various CFL commentators that this would be the game where Hamilton would put an end to their winless streak. Such predictions probably had more to do with not wanting the Hamilton season to be over before the end of August than common sense, because despite a slow start, the Renegades clearly outclassed their Eastern Division rivals.
Once again the game was not televised, although some clever folks in the Renegade Nation figured out that there was a video feed via the Ticats website. Most of us were huddled by our Team 1200 radios and were feeling rather nervous as the first half drew to a close with a 5-5 score. That's exciting for baseball or hockey, but not what most Ottawa fans are looking for from their offense. We're starting to expect that sort of performance from our defense, which is finally getting some respect as one of the best in the league.
As has become a familiar habit, the offense came out ready to play in the second half. Maybe Paopoa such give his halftime speech at the start of the game. Whatever happens to this team before the start of the third quarter, it certainly works well.
Jason Armstead hauled in a career-high 173 yards in pass receptions while tying a franchise record with eight catches, including a 69-yard touchdown in the third period where he turned his cover man inside out. He also contributed close to 100 yards in punt and kickoff returns. Kerry Joseph was 20 of 27 for 340 yards and three touchdowns. He had no interceptions, and the team had no turnovers at all. When it comes to giveaway-takeaway, Ottawa is already in playoff form.
Joseph also did some nifty running, and his ability to escape trouble and go for positive yardage clearly had Hamilton frustrated. Hamilton looked to be gaining momentum after cutting the score to 19-12 in the third, but Joseph led a drive that included a 22-yard scramble with an additional 15 yards added on when a frustrated Wayne Shaw took a cheap shot at KJ when he was clearly out of bounds. Although the drive ended with a missed field goal, it eventuall turned into a safety touch and Ottawa took full control of the game.
To start the fourth quarter the backfield trio of Coleman, Hathaway, and Ranek worked their way down the field to set up a lovely catch and run between Joseph and Murphy. Fortunately this play was one of the few highlights to go to air on the sports channels, and Murphy simply streaked across the middle, caught a six-yard dump, and made the Hamilton D look silly as he scampered in for the clincher and a 28-12 lead.
This Thursday the green riders come to town seeking revenge after their loss to the Renegades two weeks ago in Saskatchewan. It still sounds odd to be saying it, but Ottawa actually leads the Roughriders in the league standings, with a record of 4-3 as compared to Saskatchewan at 3-4. The greenies are coming off a brutal beating at the hands of the Alouettes and all is not well in Riderville. They turned the ball over nine times and they are looking and sounding frustrated. After taking some pleasure in the early season struggles of Henry Burris in Calgary, Greene is now looking questionable and Burris is shining. A second loss to the Renegades and Saskatchewan faces being dropped into fourth place in the west behind - you guessed it - Calgary.
The Roughriders will be playing desperate football, but a good start by Ottawa could leave them feeling demoralized. "A good start by Ottawa" has not been the pattern this year, but there's always a first time. Be sure to come out and see for yourself, Thursday night, 7:30 PM. The team has earned 20,000+ fans to come out and show your support!
FIRST ROAD WIN AGAINST GREEN RIDERS IN FRANCHISE HISTORY
Friday, July 29, 2005
Renegades 21, Roughriders 16
Tales from Section G is all about the fan experience at Frank Clair, but I can't let this road victory go by without at least a comment. Sadly, this game was not televised. The KMAN was otherwise occupied this Friday night during most of game time, so I found out about the victory by waiting for BC to finish pounding on Calgary on TSN. It was just a quick little comment from Dave Randorf but it sent our two-person Section G contingent into a shouting fit. We beat Saskatchewan - in Saskatchewan!
Kerry Joseph had a gruesome night through the air at 14-27 for 135 yards
and two interceptions, but the team found a way to win. The Roughrider offense worked well in the first half, but did not translate their drives into touchdowns against the "bend but don't break" Renegades, who did even better in the second half - no breaking at all, but hardly any bending either! This game was about the Ottawa defence. And the Renegades D won the game, not only by stopping the Roughriders, but by scoring points! The play of the game was Collier's lateral to Hebert near the end of a long interception return off a shovel pass that resulted in a touchdown.
Ottawa is now at .500 atop the East with the Argos and a game on the road next week against Hamilton. It's a game they must win. After a brutal schedule against most of the leagues top teams to start the season, they face the winless Ti-Cats on the road. They'll be hungry for a win too, but Ottawa needs this real bad. You've got to beat the teams you are expected to beat to have a chance in this league. And to get more fans in the seats for the next home game.
ESKIMOS SPECIAL TEAMS RUN WILD OVER RENEGADES
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Renegades 21, Eskimos 29
The Renegades played a bad game against one of the best teams in the league. They put themselves down 20 points at the half. So what's the good news? Somehow they still made a game of it. Those who had the good sense not to miss the most exciting few minutes of the game at the end of the fourth quarter were rewarded with the bitter sting of an expired clock and a bizarre final drive that sputtered on two strange penalties.
The Canadian Press summary posted on TSN following the g