Sunday, November 27, 2016

Ottawa RedBlacks: 2016 Grey Cup Champions

OTTAWA — Last year there was clutch in the Capital; this year there was a juggling 19-yard touchdown catch by Ernest Jackson in overtime of the Grey Cup.

Jackson’s highlight-reel grab in the first possession of overtime ended up being the difference, as the City of Ottawa has its first professional football championship in 40 years thanks to a 39-33 win by the Ottawa REDBLACKS over the Calgary Stampeders in the 104th Grey Cup presented by Shaw.

Henry Burris combined with Jackson to help the REDBLACKS fend off a furious Calgary comeback from 20 points down, capping off the biggest upset in Canadian Football League Grey Cup history.

Burris was named Grey Cup Most Valuable Player for his efforts while Brad Sinopoli earned Most Valuable Canadian.

The 41-year-old Burris overcame a pre-game injury scare and threw three touchdown passes while running for two more, becoming the oldest quarterback ever to win a Grey Cup. The 17-year veteran threw for 461 yards, the fourth-most ever in a Grey Cup game, earning his second title as a starting CFL quarterback and his first since 2008.

The Stampeders rallied from 20 points down and kicked the game-tying field goal with 10 seconds left to force overtime, the first Grey Cup game to go past regulation since the Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes did it in 2005. But in the end, Bo Levi Mitchell’s third-down pass in overtime fell incomplete, sealing an Ottawa REDBLACKS victory.

Patrick Lavoie and Sinopoli caught touchdown passes for the REDBLACKS while defensive back Forrest Hightower intercepted two passes in the winning effort.

Burris was questionable to play after reportedly suffering a knee injury in the warm-up but in the end became the first quarterback since Danny McManus in 1996 to break 400 passing yards in a Grey Cup.

Mitchell threw three interceptions while veteran receiver Marquay McDaniel left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return after a 51-yard catch in the first quarter.

The last time an Ottawa franchise won a Grey Cup was in 1976, when the Ottawa Rough Riders defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Toronto’s CNE Stadium. But on Sunday night, on the exact same site, a capacity crowd of 33,421 watched at BMO Field as the 8-9-1 REDBLACKS upset the heavily-favoured 15-2-1 Stampeders.

With Burris playing potentially the final game of his career, the intrigue surrounding the CFL’s third all-time leading passer reached new heights when he was seen limping off the field following warm-ups. Initial reports indicated the REDBLACKS’ starting pivot had injured his knee and was questionable to play.

But after Trevor Harris came out of the tunnel for player intros and then stood in on the coin flip, Burris was the one under centre when Ottawa’s offence first took the field in the opening quarter. Minutes later, Burris was the one capping off a 10-play scoring drive with a one-yard touchdown on the quarterback sneak.

The REDBLACKS had the Grey Cup’s first points but the hard-throwing Mitchell was quick to respond. The Katy, Texas native, fresh off the first MOP honour of his career on Thursday night, connected with a wide open McDaniel over the middle for a 51-yard pickup into Ottawa territory.

Calgary’s second possession of the game ended with a seven-yard hookup between Mitchell and this year’s Most Outstanding Canadian Jerome Messam, knotting the score at a touchdown apiece.

Ottawa rounded out the first-quarter scoring with a 37-yard field goal off the foot of Ray Early.

Down three points, the Stampeders appeared to be picking up momentum after sacking Burris for a six-yard loss and forcing Ottawa’s first punt of the game. But on the ensuing punt, Roy Finch fumbled the return and Serderius Bryant recovered for the REDBLACKS, flipping both possession and field position.

Burris and the REDBLACKS wasted no time finding the end zone after that as Lavoie caught all three of his quarterback’s completions on the drive, including a six-yard touchdown off of play action to extend the lead to 17-7.

After ending the second quarter on Early’s second field goal of the game, a chip shot from 29 yards out, the REDBLACKS tilted the field further in their favour in the third. Burris had just overshot an open Khalil Paden on an attempted flea-flicker on first down, but he wouldn’t miss again, completing passes to Sinopoli and Jackson before going back to Sinopoli for a nine-yard touchdown.

At that point, Ottawa had a commanding 27-7 lead — but sleeping on the league-leading Stamps would no doubt be a mistake.

It was that third-quarter touchdown that seemed to kick Calgary into gear, starting with a Peredes field goal and followed by a 33-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell to Lemar Durant. The play was reviewed and upheld as the REDBLACKS failed to make contact with Durant while he was down, all of a sudden cutting the Stamps’ deficit to 27-17.

Down 10 with the fourth quarter just under way, Calgary’s quarterback continued to heat up along with the rest of the Stamps’ offence. And just when it seemed like the drive had stalled, the Stampeders challenged for pass interference against Jonathan Rose at the goal line and won, leading to a one-yard plunge across the goal line by Andrew Buckley.

Buckley’s touchdown capped off an eight-play, 66-yard scoring drive and also marked the first touchdown in a Grey Cup by a Canadian Quarterback since 1968, making it a 27-23 ball game with 13:24 remaining.

The teams exchanged punts and just when the REDBLACKS needed a response, Burris and company came through. A 22-yard catch and run by Juron Criner moved the sticks on second-and-long, then on second-and-five Burris went for the deep ball and it was Criner again making a highlight-reel grab — this one over the head of Matt Bucknor.

That led to Burris’ second rushing touchdown of the game, again from a yard out, capping off a six-play, 70-yard drive to put Ottawa back in the driver’s seat.

Calgary threatened late to pull within a score as Messam’s first-down run set up a 35-yard highlight-reel grab by the rookie Daniels down to the Ottawa 27. The drive ended with a 19-yard rushing touchdown by Daniels, pulling the Stamps within a field goal with under 2:00 remaining.

The Stamps quickly got the ball back when Rob Maver’s onside kick was recovered by Love, while Mitchell and Daniels continued to move the Red and White down the field.

With the clock ticking under a minute left, an illegal contact penalty against Abdul Kanneh kept Calgary moving with a first down inside the 10. Not long later, however, it was Kanneh saving the game for Ottawa with a shoe-string tackle on Andrew Buckley.

Paredes’ chip shot on third down sent the game to overtime, while from there Burris and Jackson took care of the rest.

Mitchell finished with 391 passing yards on 28-of-38 passing with two touchdowns but also threw three interceptions. Messam, meanwhile, was held to 35 rushing yards on eight carries, but did add 59 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air.

Sinopoli had six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown while Jackson chipped in with six receptions for 96 yards.

The win for Ottawa ends a remarkable turnaround in the nation’s capital, where the expansion REDBLACKS went from a 2-16 season in 2014 to appearing in back-to-back Grey Cups and, now, winning one.

Questions, meanwhile, will surround Ottawa’s star quarterback in Burris, who’s been non-committal on his future beyond 2016.

Laval Rouge-Et-Or: 2016 Vanier Cup Champions

HAMILTON (U Sports) – The No. 1 Laval Rouge et Or won their ninth national championship and third in the last five years Saturday, with a 31-26 victory over the No. 6 Calgary Dinos in the 52nd ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup at Tim Hortons Field.

Laval’s quarterback Hugo Richard (Longueuil, Que.) won the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as the game’s MVP, tossing two touchdowns and rushing for another on the ground. He completed 25 of 32 attempts, recording 339 yards in the air and another 62 yards on the ground.

“The kid is kind of guilty of having a great freshman season,” Laval head coach Glen Constantin. “The expectations are very high on him and people are hard on him. And you know what, he’s started more games after three years than most quarterbacks do in five years. I’m very very proud of him. He’s resilient, a better leader and the future is great.”

Richard, Vincent Alarie-Tardi (Chibougamau, Que.), Antony Auclair (Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Que.) and Marc-Antoine Pivin (Sherbrooke, Que.) all scored in Laval’s first Vanier Cup win since 2013.

For Calgary, Adam Sinagra (Pointe-Claire, Que.) tossed 276 yards and one touchdown in relief of injured starter Jimmy Underdahl. Prior to his first quarter injury, Underdahl was three of four, throwing one touchdown and 123 yards.

Dinos running back Jeshrun Antwi (Calgary) rushed for 177 yards, while Anthony Anderson (Medicine Hat, Alta.) scored one touchdown on the ground in the loss for the Calgary.

Cédric Lussier-Roy of Sherbrooke, Que. won the Bruce Coulter Award as defensive MVP. Lussier-Roy forced a critical turnover in the third quarter which resulted in a Rouge et Or touchdown and shifted the game’s momentum to Laval. Lussier-Roy finished with seven total tackles, a forced fumble and one sack.

Calgary came out rolling in their 10th appearance at the Vanier Cup, securing a 14-point lead in the opening five minutes of the game by scoring on their first two possessions.

Underdahl, the fifth-year senior who started the game, connected with Michael Klukas (Calgary, Alta.,) for an 86-yard touchdown strike on Calgary’s first play from scrimmage. Following a Rouge et Or punt, Dinos receiver Anderson capped a six-play, 85-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run followed by a Niko DiFonte (Winnipeg, Man.) rouge seconds later on the ensuing kick to set the score at 14-0.

Underdahl was injured on a Rouge et Or sack by Vincent Desjardins of Quebec, which saw his understudy Sinagra relieve him for the remainder of the game.

The Rouge et Or got on the board on a quick-strike play with 5:34 remaining in the opening quarter, with Richard hitting Pivin on a 37-yard toss to bring the score to 14-7.

In the second quarter, the two teams traded field goals, with Calgary’s DiFonte knocking a 43-yard field goal and Laval’s Dominic Levesque (Saint-Georges, Que.) notching a 38-yard kick to set the score at 17-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Calgary added to their lead with DiFonte hitting his second of four field goals to extend the score to 20-10.

At that point, with Calgary looking poised to take control of the game, Lussier-Roy came up with the game-changing sack on Sinagra, who dropped the ball. Lussier-Roy recovered the fumble, and that turnover resulted in a Rouge et Or touchdown, with Richard finding Auclair on a five-yard pass two plays later to bring the Rouge et Or within three points at 20-17.

“I don’t know if we win the game without it – it’s that important,” said Laval first-team All-Canadian Mathieu Betts of the critical play. “He deserves it…It could have happened to anybody. I think we all worked really hard but it came down to Cédric. He was there to make the football play and I’m just so proud of him.”

From there, the game see-sawed back and forth, with Laval taking their first lead of the game when Alaire-Tardif punched in a three-yard rush with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.

In the fourth, DiFonte notched back-to-back field goals, giving Calgary the slender 26-24 edge, and setting up a dramatic final few minutes.

Laval went up 31-26 with just 2:33 remaining in the game on a one-yard Richard run.

“That was a designed play,” said Richard. “It’s a play we run a lot on our goal-line offence. It’s a standar QB-power (player) and we love it. A lot of teams have trouble stopping it and it’s our go-to play – we need to score (on it).”

Calgary had two shots to get in the endzone in the remaining minutes, with one of the final drives coming when Laval turned the ball over on downs with 1:27 remaining on a third-and-inches play. Calgary would drive down the field to Laval’s 23-yard line, but failed to convert on third and 10, handing the Laval Rouge et Or their ninth Vanier Cup title.

The game featured 10 quarterback sacks, with Calgary tallying seven and Laval three. Michah Teitz and Boston Rowe, both of Calgary, were the Dinos top defensive players, recording 12 total tackles. Nic Statz of Calgary had two of the Dinos seven sacks.

“We know Laval’s a good team, we didn’t expect anything but a tough game today.” said Calgary head coach Wayne Harris Jr. “I don’t know if people expected a tough game out of us but we tried to provide one.”

NOTES: This was Laval’s 10th Vanier Cup appearance since 1999 … Laval is 3-0 against Calgary in Vanier Cup games and 5-0 all time on the national stage ...  Laval also has perfect 3-0 record in Vanier Cups played in Hamilton; Laval earned wins in 2008 vs. Western and 2004 vs. Saskatchewan; both were played at Ivor Wynne Stadium.


Online Stats: STATS

LAV 7-3-14-7: 31

CGY 14-3-3-6: 26

First Quarter

CGY - Michael Klukas 86 yard pass from Jimmy Underdahl (Niko Difonte convert failed), 00:30 (6-0 CGY)

CGY - Anthony Anderson 3 yard run (Niko Difonte convert), 04:18 (13-0 CGY)

CGY - Niko Difonte 0 rouge 4:21 (14-0 CGY)

LAV -  Marc-Antonie Pivin 37 yard pass from Hugo Richard (Dominic Levesque convert) 9:26 (14-7 CGY)

Second Quarter

CGY - Niko Difonte 43 yard field goal, 2:56 (17-7 CGY)

LAV - Dominic Levesque 38 yard field goal, 5:18 (17-10 CGY)

Third Quarter

CGY - Niko Difonte 31 yard field goal 4:40 (20-10 CGY)

LAV - Anthony Auclair 5 yard pass from Hugo Richard (Dominic Levesque convert) 6:46 (20-17, CGY)

LAV - Vincent Alarie-Tardif 3 yard run (Dominic Levesque convert) 0:21 (24-20, LAV)

Fourth Quarter

CGY - Niko Difonte 31 yard field goal 11:55 (24-23, LAV)

CGY - Niko Difonte 29 yard field goal 8:12 (26-24, CGY)

LAV - Hugo Richard 1 yard run (Dominic Levesque convert) 2:33 (31-26, LAV)

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ISML 2016: The Home Stretch Is Underway!

ISML 2016: The Home Stretch Is Underway!

By Jo-Ryan Salazar
The Bedlam on Baltic Avenue
November 27, 2016

Match Day 6 of the 2016 ISML Postseason continues, and we are closing on who will be the Saimoe Prime Minister of Japan for the 2017 term, awarded to the winner of the Female Division, and Deputy Saimoe Prime Minister of Japan, awarded to the winner of the Male Division.

In the Female Division, Mashiro Shiina defeated Nao Tomori 1740-1597, Shana torched Rin Tosaka 1975-1545, Yukino Yukinoshita prevailed over Shiro 1706-1668 and Illyasviel von Einzbern won the closest race of the round, a 1659-1634 scalp of Saber. In the Male Division, Hachiman Hikigaya took one more step towards being reelected as Deputy Saimoe Prime Minister with a 1914-1267 hamnering of Edward Elric, Sora slammed Kiritsugu Emiya 1756-1441, Yuzuru Otonashi defeated Touma Kamijou 1651-1468 and Archer prevailed over Ryuuji Takashu 1663-1612.

In Female Consolation action, Kurumi Tokisaki shot down Nanami Aoyama 1753-1547, Yui Yuigahama rolled past Iroha Isshiki 1577-1335 and Asuna Yuuki slashed past Jibril 1831-1430. In Male Consolation action, Saitama punched Izayoi Sakamaki 1533-1407, Rintarou Okabe won the closest race of the round, a 1545-1503 thriller and Koyomi Araragi punished Keima Katsuragi 1587-1204.

In Fall Seasonal action, Chitose Karasuma routed Yuinshiel Asteria 1627-715, Mizore Yorizuka trounced Fine 1287-1006, Ui Wakana defeated Sayaka Miyata 1261-1064 and Ai-chan whipped past Sayuri Muranushi 1408-950.

Match Day 7 of the 2016 International Saimoe League Postseason is scheduled for November 28, 2016. Vote for your favorite candidates at and join the ongoing debate.