It only took the first game of Week 14 for the East Division to shore up the three teams that will head to the playoffs and consign the B.C. Lions to the precarious position of needing to win out to have any shot at all of making it.
In the early game on Friday night, Hamilton (7-5) put an end to any faint hope B.C. (4-8) had of staying in the mix for the postseason via the crossover rule. The Ticats won 26-18 at Tim Hortons Field.
However, the game wasn’t without its controversy. B.C. was driving downfield inside the final minute but technical problems with the earpiece in the helmet of quarterback Michael Reilly meant he couldn’t hear what the play-callers were telling him because of the static. As a result, he had to ad-lib audibles at the line of scrimmage and, well, things didn’t go too well.
“We got a garbled mess 95% of the game. It’s not good enough. It’s unacceptable to pro football, needs to be fixed,” said Reilly.
Technical glitches aside, the Lions have had an up and down season, mostly down, and Friday’s result was not unexpected.
In the second game, Saskatchewan (8-4) only just held on to beat Edmonton (2-9) 19-17 at Commonwealth Stadium. The Roughriders did all their scoring in the second and third quarters.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo had an okay night throwing for 241 yards and a touchdown. Saskatchewan kicker Brett Lauther went 4 for 4 on his field-goal attempts, while Sean Whyte added another.
The Elks’ rookie quarterback Taylor Cornelius tossed for 322 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t quite enough to get his team into the winner’s circle. The result looks to have stitched up a second-place finish in the West for the Riders.
The two Saturday games kicked off with Ottawa (2-11) nearly upsetting an inconsistent Toronto (8-4), but not quite, as the Argos scraped home 23-20.
The Argonauts didn’t get in front until the fourth quarter and again quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson had an ordinary game throwing three interceptions against one touchdown. The Redblacks’ defence was all over Toronto’s offence forcing four turnovers and recording three sacks.
That took us to the final game of the week with Winnipeg (11-1) hosting Montreal (6-6) at IG Field in a game the Alouettes needed to give themselves a shot at finishing first in the East Division.
It was Even Stevens through the end of the third quarter, but the Blue Bombers ran away with it in the fourth scoring 10 unanswered points to win 31-21.
“It’s great for us to be in games like this because not everything is always going to go our way,” said Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill. “I was really happy to see how we came out, especially in the fourth quarter, and took the win.”
Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions, while his opposite number Trevor Harris also tossed two TDs but threw two picks as well.
So, with two weeks remaining in the regular season, five of the six playoff teams have clinched their spots. The only question is who will be the third team in the West Division. That could be determined next week when Calgary plays B.C.
Should the Stampeders win, as they would be expected to, that would be the final nail in the Lions’ coffin. However, should B.C. somehow manage a win, their fate would then hinge on their final game against Edmonton and Calgary’s season finale against Winnipeg.