Riders 33 – Ti-Cats 23
As I sit down to write this I have to admit that I’m very conflicted. I mean the Riders won at home based on 3 fantastic quarters of football… but that other quarter was so abysmal that it almost overshadows the win.
While I have been highly critical of our coaching staff this season, I have to give them credit for their game planning. We always start very strong. Last night the coaches looked like they were finally starting to earn their pay. Offensively, Paul LaPolice actually got creative in his play calling. He finally decided that Jason Clermont was worthy of some touches and even went so far as to call a goal line pass to the defensive tackle… no one saw that coming (Shologan’s smile was wider than Darrell Hackney’s waistline following his big TD). Etcheverry learned how to stop the run and effectively take Cobb out of the picture all game and the returning John Chick helped the D-line turn in a dominant performance in the trenches. The defense as a whole did not allow a single 1st down in the first half and kept Hamilton to negative net yards. For the record, I guess it should come as no surprise that a Bellefeuille-run offense was that futile. Combined with a strong offensive output, the Riders were up 23 at the half.
Now to the casual fan that kind of lead and defensive performance going into the half would be cause for great rejoicing. But anyone who’s followed the team closely this year was probably more worried than confident. The Riders are bar none the worst second half team in the league and they gave the hometown fans a firsthand demonstration of that. I’m not sure what it is exactly that the coaches do in the locker room at half time… read romance novels, take naps, play Parcheesi, hookers and blow, their taxes… all I know is that it obviously has nothing to do with football. If you include last night’s 3rd quarter implosion the Riders have now only scored once in the 3rd quarter this season (that’s equals out to an average of 1 point per 3rd quarter). That is clearly a coaching issue. I mean once you can forgive but putting up 0 points in 6 out of 7 3rd quarters?! Even Mike Kelly’s sorry excuse for an offense has done better than that.
Fortunately the team came to their senses in the 4th and came away with the win and a share of first place. Outside of that 3rd quarter there are many positives to build on. Durant played well despite the wind and controlled the ball, we actually established a ground game with Cates, we are spreading the ball around really well making it hard for defenses to key on one player, the entire D-line looked really good and got consistent pressure, Jyles managed not to screw up on 2 separate occasions on the goal line (alleluia!), and McCullough and Freeman did a decent job in place of the injured Rey Williams.
Other random observations:
- What’s the deal with Gainer’s new gay cousin?
- According to Man In The Bush, Mo Lloyd and Kitwana Jones attended the game.
- I guess it’s a good thing that Etch’s defense involves converted DB’s playing LB because with Kye Stewart going down we are quickly running out of actual LBs. At this rate he's going to have to start converting kickers by mid-September.
- I was amazed at how well Durant was able to run on the wet turf while missing one shoe.
- How bad was that missed no yards call? I wasn’t aware it was legal for defenders to gently spoon with the kick returner prior to him catching the ball.
- How funny was that guy who casually walked out onto the field to talk to the refs after that call though? I think all he wanted was clarification from the refs on why there was penalty on the previous play. We were all thinking it, he was just brave enough to actually do it.
- I never thought I’d say this but the futility that our special teams has shown under the direction of Kavis Reed has made me long for the days when Alex Smith was in charge (for the record that is not a compliment to Smith but rather a harsh insult to Reed).
While the game may have been way closer than it should have, it was a win nonetheless and a good showing overall.