“Green is the colour…..football is the game……..we’re all together…and winning is our aim…….” Happy Canada Day to all!! Especially for those clad in green and white!! I do not know how you could possibly start a CFL season any better than what took place on ol’ Taylor Field….ummm Mosaic stadium today! A shoot out it was indeed. Big plays, highlight reel catches and hits, controversy, overtime, the 13th man!! But lets not get ahead of ourselves here.
Aside from the first toss and subsequent interception thrown by Anthony Calvillo. It looked like it was going to be a cake walk for the defending Grey Cup champs. Calvillo hooked up with perrenial 1’000 yard man Kerry Watkins twice and S.J. Green once, and took a 24-10 lead into halftime, looking very much like the dominent Grey Cup champs.The teams traded safeties to start the second half, when a missed 35 yard field goal by Luca Congi, was returned 117 yards by Montreal Rookie Tm Maypray for a touchdown, and a seemingly unsurmountable 33-12 Alouettes lead. But hold on to your tighty whiteies…the Durant led Riders came alive, similarily reminiscent of the Alouettes in last years Grey Cup. Durant hit Prechae Rodriguez, and Rob Bagg to cut the deficit to 33-26. Then just over 4 minutes into the fourth, Wes Cates tied the game on a ten yard touchdown run. Cates broke a couple of big runs in the previous plays putting them into scoring position. Avon coburne , and andy Fantuz each had touchdowns , both at the end of thrilling drives for their teams, to send the game to overtime.
Fantuz caught a touchdown, and Chris Gretzlaf the two point convert to start the overtime. The game came down to a third down gamble…..an incomplete pass from Calvillo…RIDERS WIN RIDERS WIN!!!……..flag….no…….it could not..possibly be…….again!! Too many men Saskatchewan!! It was like a cruel joke, funny yet twisted. The look of the faces at sold out Mosaic, disbelief, anger, DISBELIEF!! I myself had no words. I just simply could not fathom this happening again. I would think that the Riders may place someone, somewhere, whose sole purpose, is to just count bodies on the field. I hope any way! S.J. Green made them pay with a absolutely amazing one handed grab just on the edge of the endzone and out of bounds stripe…….tie game.
This time history would not repeat itself. Weston Dressler Caught two passes including a touchdown, to outdo Montreals field goal, and the game was finally over with. We have our revenge……for now! There were stars aplenty in this one. Durant out performed Calvillo, going 30 of 44 for a big 478 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was very effective when he started to stretch the Als secondary, throwing nice balls to his recievers. Speaking of…..Dressler and Bagg each broke a hundred, 154 and 121. Dressler was catching everything his way, especially at big junctures in the game, and Bagg really put the Riders back in the game with a huge 87 yard touchdown play that put the heat on the Als.Fantuz had 8 grabs for 77 yards, Getzlaf 3 for 65, and Rodriguez 2 for 54. Cates was slow to start, but had a very solid game, busting a bunch of big yardage runs off, he finished with 13 rushes for 112 yards and 1 touchdown. The defense had issues in the beginning, but got it together, and made plays when they had to. They got the offense the ball back, and thats all you can ask for. Donovan Alexander got burnt bad a couple of times early, but seperated the reciever from the ball at very important times late in the game.
It was an amazing game by both teams, an unbelievable start to the season, and to add to that, the game was televised on the NFL network. Americans got to see the CFL at its best. All the story lines were there, all the thrills and dramatics were present. If you watched the game and were not entertained, you are either a) deceased, or b) ……deceased. Its only week 1, what a game. It will be hard to outdo this one, but the Riders have their revenge, and now take their air show west for another great rivalry in B.C July 10. No B.C Place Stadium this year, as the Lions will be playing outdoors this year, as their stadium undergoes upgrades. So its off to the tame the Lions Rider Priders, the journey has begun!!
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Written by Terry Beisick