Monday, September 20, 2004

Riders edge out Ti cats in last second to avoid Overtime

The flags were flying, the coaches were screaming and so was the crowd. Sunday’s non televised CFL game between Saskatchewan and Hamilton was yet another barn burner in a weekend full of them.

Paul McCallum kicked the winning field goal with one second on the clock giving the Riders a hard earned 32-30 victory over the Ticats, who looked as though they might pull off another late game surprise for their loyal fans.

Saskatchewan were leading 29-24 late in the fourth quarter when Danny McManus tossed the long ball down the sidelines to DJ Flick who reeled it in after it bounced off of the shoulder of defender Omarr Morgan. With a 30-29 lead the Ti cats went for the two point conversion which failed. The shortfall would the scene for McCallum’s heroics a few minutes later.

Rider QB Henry Burris took the remaining 2 minutes and 20 seconds and engineered a brilliant drive to set up McCallum’s 36 yard winner his fifth field goal of the game.

The play capped a wild back and forth game between the two sides punctuated by flags, fumbles and interceptions. Remarkable catches and crushing hits were also part of the affair as both teams battled back and forth in what may have been a pivotal game for both squads.

With the win the Riders kept pace with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who have been on a tear of late, but more importantly the win also kept the Riders alive for a possible cross over berth in the upcoming November playoffs. With a record of 5-8 now, the win was huge for the struggling Riders. With the big three in the West continuing to roll up the wins, Saskatchewan will be keeping an eye on the Tiger Cat and Argonaut win/loss ratio for the rest of the season. For Danny Barrett’s Green machine a possible trip to the Grey Cup may have to go through the East, the win over Hamilton Sunday may go a long way to deciding if the Riders play in November.

The game put the wraps on an entertaining week end of football, with all four games close, exciting and going down to the last minute of play before the outcome was known. The only puzzling thing from a league stand point is why the game was not on television. In a country with three sports networks desperate for programming, having a match up with playoff repercussions not televised is baffling.

This makes for the second week in a row the CFL has abandoned Sundays to the NFL. Having watched a few of the NFL offerings over the weekend which provided all the excitement of a porcupine crossing a road, one wonders why the CFL isn’t more enthusiastic about its product. The Sunday game provided more thrills and entertainment in one quarter than most of the NFL games could muster in 60 (ask the folks at ESPN about that Cincinnati/Miami barn burner!!). With the CFL enjoying a rebirth this year, there’s no excuse for surrendering Sundays to that other league, put the game on TV and the viewers will come!

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