Week 4 of the CFL season has come and gone, and it was a mixed bag for those with 0’s in any column.

The only undefeated team in the league didn’t play this week, as the Calgary Stampeders drew the Week 4 bye. Conversely, the defending Grey Cup champions found their first win this week, which means every team in the CFL is finally in the Win Column.

See what we did there?

One highlight to note - Jeremiah Masoli tied the CFL record for consecutive 300+ yard passing games, leaving us still waiting for Johnny Manziel’s CFL debut.

Week 4 Bye:

Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-2) - 18

Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-1) - 13

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were one of the hottest teams through the first 3 weeks of the CFL season. Hamilton hadn’t had a game so far this year without at least 400 yards of total offense, with Jeremiah Masoli leading the league in passing yards with 1,045 coming into the game. They looked to take advantage of a Saskatchewan team that looked lost in both Weeks 2 and 3.

The Riders had a decent opening game to the season, but looked like the worst team in the league in losses to Ottawa and Montreal in Week 2 and 3. With Zach Collaros missing his second straight game - he’s on the 6-game injured list with a concussion - Brandon Bridge got the start and hoped to finish the game after being benched for David Watord in Week 3. Duron Carter got a second consecutive start at DB after being burned badly one week prior.

The first half was mostly a defensive battle with the Tiger-Cats taking a 7-6 lead into the half. However, Hamilton did manage to put up 254 yards of offence in the first 30 minutes, with the Riders only managing 98 yards. This was the result of Chris Jones opting to use both of his quarterbacks through the opening half.

Bridge went 4/6 for just 24 yards, while Watford did not complete a pass on three attempts; however, he ran three times for 39 yards.

Hamilton’s offense jumped out to a quick start early in the 2nd half with Masoli putting together solid sustained drives. The Tiger-Cats, however, could not get into the end zone. The first drive that lasted 5 minutes stalled around the Saskatchewan 4-yard line leading to an 11-yard Liram Hajrullahu field goal and 3-0 lead.

Another quick Rider drive gave the ball back to Masoli, but the drive ended in another field goal attempt, this time from 32 yards out. However, Hajrullahu missed the attempt, forcing the team to settle for a single and the 4-0 lead. On the following Saskatchewan drive, Jones replaced Bridge with Watford which lead to a two-and-out.

Both teams traded scoreless drives through the bulk of the second quarter, with both defences coming up strong. Duron Carter had a bounce back game at DB not giving up any major plays, making a few tackles and almost making a one-handed interception.

Brandon Bridge was put back into the game and led the team down the field. He took off on a run from the Hamilton 15-yard line, hurdling over the defender and into the end zone. However, it appeared as though he fumbled the ball before crossing the line and it was confirmed after review that Delvin Breaux had recovered the ball in the end zone for the turnover.

The Tiger-Cats had the ball at the Saskatchewan 45-yard line, when Masoli was sacked by Charleston Hughes. Masoli fumbled the ball which popped into the air after Hughes contacted Masoli’s arm and Hughes himself caught the ball and ran 57 yards for the touchdown. Brett Lauther missed the extra point and the Riders held a 6-4 lead.

With 19 seconds left in the half Masoli completed a 26-yard pass to Terrence Toliver setting up a 30-yard field goal and the 7-6 halftime lead for Hamilton.

The Rider quarterback carousel continued into the second half, but at a worse pace. Jones bounced back and forth between Bridge and Watford on almost every drive, frustrating Rider fans abroad. Just when Bridge seemed to be getting some rhythm going, Watford would be put into the game, leading to a stalling drive.

The Green & White did manage to move the ball a bit in the third quarter and put some points on the board. Brett Lauther kicked a massive 52-yard field goal giving the Riders the 9-7 lead.

The Tiger-Cats would take that lead back three minutes later with Masoli hitting both Brandon Banks and Toliver for 23 and 26 yard strikes respectively. The drive would be stopped by the Rider D however and lead to a 19-yard Hajrullahu field goal and the 10-9 lead.

Both defences continued to trade blows like heavyweight fighters into the fourth quarter, with the only points coming in field goals from both teams and the score sitting at 13-12 Hamilton.

With 1:50 left in the game the Riders put Bridge back under centre and things started moving. He completed a 29-yard pass to Josh Stanford who made an incredible catch on a ball thrown perfectly over the defender’s head.

Then on 1st and 10 Marcus Thigpen took the handoff and ran the ball around the line 34 yards and into the end zone for the major. The Riders failed an attempted 2-point conversion giving them the 18-13 lead.

Hamilton was able to move the ball down the field rather efficiently in the dying seconds between some nice throws from Masoli and some penalties from the Riders. They moved the ball down to their own 53-yard line when Masoli threw it up to Banks on 3rd down. The pass was incomplete, but June Jones challenged for pass interference. Upon review, there clearly was none, ending the game and giving the Riders their second win of the season. One bright spot for Hamilton came in Masoli setting a CFL passing record, becoming one of three players behind Kent Austin and Sam Etcheverry with his 9th straight game of at least 300 passing yards.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders won this game based solely off their defence. This Rider defence can and will be the best in the league when its firing on all cylinders. I mean, they scored the team’s only touchdown in the game up until there was just under two minutes left. However, they need to find a way to get the offence going. Chris Jones needs to pick a quarterback and stick with him. Even though Bridge tends to struggle early in games, he needs to be able to establish rhythm. This team is designed to let the defence do work and let the offence mange the game and find a way to win late, like they did in this one. If Jones doesn’t trust Bridge to stay in the game over a QB with no CFL experience, then why did he even sign him to a contract?

For a Hamilton team that looked almost unstoppable through three weeks of play, they looked like they met their match this week, defensively anyway. The offense was very efficient with Masoli going 23/43 for 333 yards and 60 yards on the ground with 0 INTs but he also had no TDs and didn’t get any help on the ground. The Ti-Cats offensive line had their hands full with the Rider front 7 and almost every run play was stuffed behind the line. The defense for Hamilton held their own only giving up 298 total yards to Saskatchewan but they broke late when they needed to be at their strongest. For a Hamilton team that has been lighting it up through the air putting up points all year, to only score field goals in this one was a step backwards.

Player of the Game: The Rider Defensive Line. The D-line for the Riders had a whale of a game. Hamilton only had 96 yards on the ground, but 60 of that came from Masoli scrambling out of the pocket. They had pressure on the QB all night totalling 2 sacks and keeping the Riders in the game. Oh yeah, they also had the only touchdown of the game until the final 1:50 of play.

Ottawa RedBlacks (1-1) - 28

Montreal Allouettes (1-2) - 18

Both the Ottawa RedBlacks and the Montreal Alouettes came into their games this weekend off impressive wins over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week’s 2 and 3 respectively. Ottawa then evened out its record with a loss to the Stampeders in Week 3 but none the less it was an impressive loss. They held their own and held the score close and despite a few mistakes late they had a chance to win had they capitalized on some scoring chances. With an impressive win and an impressive loss, the RedBlacks looked to bounce above .500 with a win on the road against the Als.

The Montreal Aloutettes looked like the worst team in the league in the first few weeks giving up a tonne of yards and points. They bounced back in Week 3 with a huge win against the Riders, but they lost Drew Willy to a concussion. Would they be able to keep up their impressive play at home against Ottawa? Or, would back-up QB Jeff Mathews have a hard time against a tough Ottawa defence?

Ottawa jumped out to a fast start getting the ball moving early and often. On the opening drive, Trevor Harris took his team down the field and less than eight minutes into the game hit J.C. Beaulieu for a 47-yard touchdown pass. The RedBlacks went for the 2-point conversion as usual, missing for the first time on a Harris pass to Brad Sinopoli.

However, Montreal would answer shortly thereafter. Jeff Mathews completed a 33-yard pass to speedster Chris Williams down the sideline, setting the Als up at the Ottawa 12-yard line. Two plays later Tyrell Sutton would run the ball 2 yards into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season and the 7-6 Als lead.

Ottawa would march down the field again but would be stopped before getting into the end zone, having to settle for a 12-yard Lewis Ward field goal and the 9-8 lead.

Harris would take the hurry-up offence back down the field with six minutes left in the second quarter. After hitting Greg Ellingson for a 15-yard pass, Harris would then find Brad Sinopoli for a 25-yard pass, which he then ran 12 more yards into the end zone. This time for Ottawa the 2-point conversion was successful, with Harris hitting Beaulieu down the middle of the field in the end zone for the 17-8 lead.

The RedBlacks would add another score before the end of the half. William Powell ran the ball 26 yards setting Ottawa up at the Montreal 54-yard line. Harris would take the offence down the field aided by a pass-interference penalty on Tommie Campbell.

Harris would then hit Noel Thomas down the middle much like the Beaulieu 2-point conversion; however, this time for the touchdown, which was Noel’s first in the CFL. Powell would run the ball into the end zone for the extra two points and the 25-8 Ottawa lead, one they would take into the half.

After Ottawa’s defence swarmed Jeff Mathews - who took a beating all game - to open the half, they added another three points lead by William Powell breaking off another 26-yard run. The 31-yard Ward field goal made it 28-8 Ottawa.

Montreal would make it interesting early in the fourth quarter. Jeff Mathews would hit Eugene Lewis for a 65-yard strike down to the Ottawa 14-yard line.

A few plays later Mathews would hit a diving Chris Harper for his first CFL touchdown, a 14-yard strike. Harper took over early in the game for an injured Chris Williams, who left and did not return.

The Als would add a 44-yard Boris Bede field goal, but it wouldn’t be enough as the RedBlack defence stood tall and held onto the 28-18 win moving their record to 2-1.

Ottawa’s offence was on full force, piling up yards both through the air and on the ground. Trevor Harris went 28/42 throwing for 342 yards and 3 TD’s, while William Powell ran the ball 23 times for 138 yards. On the receiving end, Brad Sinopoli made 11 catches for 148 yards and 1 TD. The RedBlacks put up a total of 481 yards while holding Montreal to 323, with only 43 of those coming on the ground. Ottawa’s defence had three sacks and so far, this year the only team that’s seemed to give them any trouble was a powerhouse Stampeder team. They continue to roll behind a hurry-up offence that gets the ball moving in several different ways.

This wasn’t a bad effort by Montreal. They managed to put up over 300 yards of offence, but couldn’t establish a run game despite Tyrell Sutton making some nice plays. The positive was Jeff Mathews, who threw for 280 yards while taking a beating all game. It was a miracle he even got up on some plays. The defence for Montreal needs to be better. They can’t give up as many big plays through the air and the D-line needs to hold up better against the run game. The secondary took too many penalties; albeit some were of the usual suspect CFL officiating but too many mistakes will cost teams like this.

Player of the Game: William Powell. Powell was the work horse carrying the ball 23 times and running all over the Montreal defence. He gave Trevor Harris another reliable option on the field and helped manage the clock and the win for his team.

Edmonton Eskimos (2-1) - 17

Toronto Argonauts (0-2) - 20

The defending Grey Cup Champions find themselves down in a hole to begin the season after a 0-2 start and losing Hall of Fame QB Ricky Ray to injury. Luckily, they prepared for this in the off-season acquiring James Franklin from the Eskimos. As an Eskimos fan, it was sad to see James Franklin go because he’s going to be a quality starter in this league for many years; however, he was just never going to start over Mike Reilly. In my opinion, Edmonton came into this game still trying to find their way. Although they entered with a 2-1 record, I’m not convinced they are a team that can contend this year.

Toronto would start with the ball in this one and drive down the field, eventually capped off by a James Franklin 2-yard touchdown.

The Eskimos would receive the kick-off following; however, on the first play CJ Gable put the ball on the ground and allow the Argos to recover in good field position.

The fumble would lead to a 5-yard James Wilder Jr. touchdown and the Argonauts would quickly go up 12-0. Unfortunately, they missed both converts.

It was a very uneventful remainder to the first half; the Eskimos would get scores off the foot of Sean Whyte (1 rouge, 2 field goals), however, they would go into the half 12-7 Argos.

There wasn’t much scoring in this game, so we’ll simply show you some nice plays. Llevi Noel brought down a beautifully thrown ball by James Franklin to move the chains for the Argonauts in the middle of the third quarter.

The Eskimos would close out the third quarter with a beautiful catch and run by Derel Walker, giving them the 14-12 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

After Sean Whyte would give the Eskimos another three points. James Franklin would connect with Declan Cross coming out of the three-minute warning. Toronto would convert the 2-point conversion putting them up 20-17 with less than three to play.

The Eskimos would get the ball back and go two and out. Toronto would run out the clock and hold on to the lead to get their first win of the 2018 campaign.

It’s not an Edmonton Eskimos game without Jason Maas making a questionable decision late in the game, as they elected to punt the ball back to Toronto with two-minutes remaining in the fourth instead of letting Reilly go for it on third down. Maas’s lack of trust in the leagues best QB to move the ball late in games has cost them a couple times in his coaching career.

Edmonton’s offence looked fantastic again as Reilly threw for over 350+ yards, but they just couldn’t finish off drives today and had to settle for a lot of field goals, I’m not worried about Edmonton.

Toronto has a well-balanced offense as they passed for 193 yards and rushed for 110, and while they didn’t rack up the same yardage as Edmonton, running the ball effectively over the course of a season will be beneficial to Toronto’s success. I’m still not sold on if Toronto will be the team to beat in the East this year, as they pretty much have the same team they had last year. Expect James Franklin to get more comfortable, he’s going to be more than okay under centre.

Player of the Game: James Wilder JR. 21 carries for 120 yards and a TD.

BC Lions (1-1) - 19

Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-2) - 41

BC and Winnipeg would clash for the first time this year in a matchup that featured two teams in the basement of the CFL’s Western Division. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers currently have the leagues best offense, averaging 34.3 points per game. Boy, they didn’t slow down in this one. As I’ve said in previous articles, I’m not the biggest Jonathon Jennings fan, and any game that turns into a shootout I don’t think he can keep up in.

Winnipeg got their starting quarterback back in this game, as Matt Nichols would take the field after starting the season with an injury.

BC would get the first points in this game off a Ty Long 19-yard field goal to go up 3-0 early in the first quarter.

However, it didn’t take long for Nichols to get comfortable in the saddle; with 4:35 in the first quarter he would find Darvin Adams for a 20-yard touchdown.

After a short drive from the Lions that didn’t accomplish anything, the Blue Bombers star running back Andrew Harris would take a direct snap to the house from the 4-yard line.

Winnipeg would start running away with the game with 8 minutes left in the first half. Chris Streveler would find pay-dirt on a 1-yard QB sneak to put the Bombers up 21-3.

They would keep pouring it on. Streveler would again find the end-zone from the 1-yard line, putting the Bombers up 28-3 with 4 minutes left to go in the first half and essentially sealing the game for Winnipeg early.

BC would finish the half off with a strong drive, capped off by a 2-yard run from Jeremiah Johnson bringing them within 18.

We would go into the half with the Bombers ahead 28-10 and firmly in the drivers seat.

The two teams would go through an uneventful third quarter as field goals were traded back and forth.

The Bombers would put the game out of reach early in the fourth when former New Orleans Saints LB Adam Bighill would pick off Jennings for a 55-yard pick six.

The Bombers would put up one more field goal before the end of this one and BC Lions QB Cody Fajardo would sneak into the end zone, but ultimately the Bombers would cruise to victory and improve to 2-2 on the season.

The BC Lions offense looks bad, other than Jeremiah Johnson they simply look terrible. Jonathon Jennings can’t move the ball effectively. I’d like to see the Lions use Chris Rainey more in the offense because I think he’s an amazing dual threat playmaking back, something the Lions desperately need. It was noticed in Edmonton and noticed in this game as well, the BC Lions defense seems to shutdown and give up on themselves when things start going poorly. No heart.

Winnipeg needed a game like this to establish themselves in the West, I truly believe they are a contender with Nichols but I was worried they’d fall to far out of the playoff picture before he got back from injury. Luckily, he’s back now and the offense looks unstoppable. It’s worth noting that Streveler didn’t play poorly in relief, he’s just simply not as good as Matt Nichols. Winnipeg will be a team to watch the rest of the year, they have a good defense lead by Adam Bighill and the best offense in the league.

Player of the Game: Adam Bighill. 6 tackles, 2 INT’s including one 55-yard pick six.

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