For the first time since 2019 we got some CFL playoff football and it did not disappoint. As we have seen all season, missed long, turnovers really impacted both games. So let’s take a closer look at what happened in the CFL conference semifinals.
Game one: Montreal Alouettes vs Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats basically won this game all in the first half however, this game could have been very different.
Montreal had a really good chance of taking control of this game early when they dominated most of the first quarter however, they only managed to get 3 points. Again, Montreal seemed to be playing well in the second quarter until Hamilton forced a key turnover.
The Tiger-Cats defense came up huge, like they have been doing all season, forcing the Alouettes’ QB, Trevor Harris, to fumble the football, the first of four. Once this happened, Hamilton really took over.
The first fumble of the game gave Hamilton’s QB, Jeremiah Masoli, great field possession and his team wasted no time, scoring a quick touchdown with a perfect pass to Brandon Banks, giving the Tiger-Cats the lead.
With over 20,000 screaming fans at Tim Hortons field in Hamilton, the Tiger-Cats gained momentum. The Tigers-Cats defense and offense completely took over for the rest of the quarter, scoring 20 unanswered points, taking a 20-3 lead going into the second half
The Alouettes were able to get some offense going in the second half but it was just not enough as the Tiger-Cats won this game 23-12.
Hamilton won this game by focusing on a few key areas:
- Shutting down the Alouettes’ running back, William Stanback, ( 29 YDS 12 CAR 2.4 AVG)
- Defense forcing 5 turnovers (4 fumbles & 1 interception)
- Getting the big play when they needed it
For the Montreal Alouettes, they lost this game by not zeroing in on a few key areas
- Lack of a running game involved
- Not capitalizing on Hamilton’s slow start
- Offensive line did not protect the QB (Harris was sacked six times)
- 364 passing yards, only one TD
Game two: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs Calgary Stampeders
If you had told me going into this game that there would be 6 interceptions and only one touchdown pass between these teams, I would have thought you were crazy. However, crazy is a great word to describe this game.
This game went back and forth with both teams’ defense making big plays at big moments. Both teams’ quarterbacks, Cody Fajardo & Bo Levi Mitchell threw interceptions early in this game, something we continued to see throughout the entire night.
The Calgary Stampeders were the first team to strike, getting key interceptions that gave Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stamps’ offense great field possession. Calgary’s running back, Ka’Deem Carey, was able to punch in one of his two touchdowns of the night, giving the Stamps a 7-0 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw both QB’s struggles continue, as they kept throwing interceptions. Five interceptions were thrown in the first half alone. However, that was not the only thing that was happening in the second quarter. The Roughriders were able to close the gap with a field goal and the Roughriders’ punt returner, Jamal Morrow, made a huge splash, returning a 64 yard punt resulting in a key touchdown and giving his Roughriders a lead into the 2nd half.
As crazy as the first half was, the second was even better, with both teams trading points back and forth as the QB’s started to somewhat find their game. Or at least they were being smarter with the football. Cody Fajardo, in the third quarter, threw the only TD pass in the game, giving the Roughriders a 17-14 lead over the Stamps going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter both teams, yet again, went back and forth, trading points. The running game for both teams became a huge factor, as no one wanted to put the ball in the air. Calgary was able to put together a nice drive, finishing it off with a one yard touchdown run giving them a four point lead. However the Roughriders would not go down without a fight.
With around four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Roughriders’ QB, Cody Fajardo, was able to march his team down to the end zone, finishing the drive off with a one yard quarter-sneak giving his team a three point lead. However, if you are a CFL football fan you knew this game was not over.
With under 2 minutes left in the fourth, the Stampeders went back to work, marching down the field, getting into field goal range. Stampeders’ kicker, Rene Paredes, needed to hit a 47 yard kick to send this game into overtime. And although he did struggle in this game, he was able to send this kick through the uprights, tying this game up at 27-27, meaning we were going to get some overtime playoff football.
The overtime portion, like the rest of the game, was very close. The first set of overtime mini games saw both teams hitting field goals, keeping the score tied, now at 30-30. The second set of mini games however was a little different. The Calgary Stampeders tried getting a touchdown early, going for two deep passes that just did not connect. However, they were still in field goal range. The Stamps and their kicker, Rene Paredes, set up for a 44 yard field goal kick, and as he had struggled for most of this game, Paredes missed the kick. This meant that all the Roughriders needed was a field goal to win the game.
The Roughriders kept the ball on the ground, centering the kick for their kicker, Brett Lauther, and he made no mistake, kicking the 34 yard field goal, giving his team the 33-30 victory!
Just like the last game, let’s go over the Roughriders’ keys to victory and how the Stampeders let this game slip away. Let’s start with the Roughriders.
- Brett Lauther stays steady, making 4-5 field goal kicks
- Cody Fajardo struggled however found a way to win (189 Passing yards, 89 rushing yards 1 passing TD, one rushing TD)
- Defense bends but does not break
What Happened to Calgary?
- Bo Levi Mitchell struggled ( 285 passing yards, 0 TD, 2 INT)
- Rene Paredes missed key field goals including key kick in overtime (5-8)
- Did not capitalize on 4 interceptions
Now, onto the conference finals.
The conference semi finals are now all done so that means next week we will have the conference finals.
In the East, we will have the Toronto Argos vs the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and in the West, we will have the Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs the Saskatchewan Roughriders. However, that is a breakdown for another day.