A ma­jor chal­lenge

Har­ris, Red­blacks face Blue Bombers’ tough de­fence on Fri­day night

The Western Star - - SPORTS - BY DAN RALPH BAS­KET­BALL

Trevor Har­ris and the Ottawa Red­blacks’ of­fence face a ma­jor chal­lenge Fri­day night.

Har­ris threw for a sea­son­high 487 yards last week to rally the Red­blacks to a 24-17 win over the Montreal Alou­ettes. But Ottawa (5-3) vis­its Win­nipeg (5-3) to face a solid Blue Bombers de­fence.

The Bombers lead the CFL in sacks (21) and in­ter­cep­tions (11) and are tied with un­beaten Cal­gary for most turnovers forced (25). Win­nipeg is also sec­ond in fewest of­fen­sive points al­lowed (19.5 per game) and pass­ing TDs (five).

Line­backer Adam Bighill, first over­all in de­fen­sive tack­les with 49, an­chors a unit that also in­cludes de­fen­sive back Kevin Fogg (tied for first with three in­ter­cep­tions), line­backer Ian Wild (tied for first with two fum­ble re­cov­er­ies) and de­fen­sive line­man Jack­son Jef­f­coat (tied for sec­ond with five sacks).

Win­nipeg’s de­fence played a big role in last week’s 29-23 home win against Hamil­ton. Af­ter Justin Med­lock’s 33-yard field goal with 1:22 re­main­ing, Bighill and Co. held off a late Tiger-Cats rally to help se­cure the Bombers’ third straight vic­tory.

Bighill fin­ished with seven tack­les, one sack and a forced fum­ble.

With Har­ris lead­ing the way, Ottawa’s of­fence rolled up 601 to­tal yards against Montreal. But af­ter com­mit­ting six turnovers (intercepti­on, four fum­bles, once on downs), the Red­blacks needed Wil­liam Pow­ell’s 10-yard TD run with 36 sec­onds re­main­ing to break a 17-17 tie.

Pow­ell fin­ished yards rush­ing on (6.1-yard av­er­age).

Ottawa has a pass­ing of­fence. It leads the CFL in at­tempts (315), com­ple­tions (214) and com­ple­tion per­cent­age (67.9) and is third in yards (312.6 per game). Pow­ell is sec­ond over­all in rush­ing with 608 yards (4.9-yard av­er­age) but the Red­blacks have the league’s sec­ond-worst ground at­tack (87.9 yards per game).

Yet a re­li­able kick­ing game has proved quite ben­e­fi­cial for Ottawa. Rookie Lewis Ward has hit on 25-of-26 field-goal with 104 17 car­ries at­tempts (96.2 per cent) and all eight con­verts he’s tried.

Run­ning the foot­ball is cer­tainly Win­nipeg’s forte as it leads the CFL in rush­ing (152.6 yards per game) with Cana­dian Andrew Har­ris, last year’s rush­ing leader, atop the stand­ings with 720 yards .

The Win­nipeg na­tive has three 100-yard rush­ing games this sea­son and run for six TDs. He’s also reg­is­tered 31 catches for 254 yards and two touch­downs.

With a staunch de­fence and dom­i­nant rush­ing at­tack, Win­nipeg hasn’t needed quar­ter­back Matt Ni­chols to be a one-man show. Ni­chols has com­pleted 83-of-135 passes (61.5 per cent) for 1,053 yards his sea­son high be­ing 253 yards - in five starts with seven TDs against four in­ter­cep­tions.

Med­lock has made 18-of-21 field goals and all 29 con­verts he’s at­tempted.

Win­nipeg.

Pre­dic­tion: B.C. Li­ons at Toronto Arg­onauts

At Toronto, McLeod BethelThom­p­son makes his sec­ond ca­reer start af­ter throw­ing three fourth-quar­ter TD passes to rally the Ar­gos (2-5) from a 24-point deficit to a 42-41 home win over Ottawa on Aug. 2. Travis Lu­lay gets his fifth start for B.C. (3-4), which is com­ing off a 31-23 win over Ed­mon­ton. De­fen­sive line­man Shawn Lemon faces his for­mer team for the first time since be­ing dealt to the Li­ons last month.

B.C.

Pre­dic­tion: Montreal Alou­ettes at Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos

At Ed­mon­ton, the Eski­mos (5-3) look to re­bound af­ter be­ing outscored 21-3 in the sec­ond half against B.C. CFL pass­ing leader Mike Reilly threw for 302 yards with two TDs and scored an­other. Johnny Manziel threw for 168 yards and no picks against Ottawa but Montreal (1-7) put him un­der con­cus­sion pro­to­col Wed­nes­day. De­fen­sive backs Bran­den Dozier (13 tack­les) and Tyquwan Glass (12) led the way against the Red­blacks, which speaks vol­umes.

Ed­mon­ton.

Pre­dic­tion: Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers at Saskatchew­an Roughrid­ers

At Saskatchew­an, Cal­gary (7-0) looks for a sec­ond straight win this sea­son at Mo­saic Field. Bo Levi Mitchell threw three TD strikes as the Stam­ped­ers took a 24-0 first-quar­ter lead en route to a 34-22 win July 28. Zach Col­laros didn’t play then but will start for the Rid­ers (3-4). How­ever he won’t have Duron Carter to play catch with af­ter the vet­eran re­ceiver was re­leased last week­end. Caleb Hol­ley will take Carter’s spot. Both teams come off the bye.

Pre­dic­tion:

———

2-1 23-11.

Last week: Over­all:

Cal­gary.

CP PHOTO

Ottawa Red­blacks quar­ter­back Trevor Har­ris throws a pass dur­ing CFL ac­tion against the Montreal Alou­ettes in Montreal, Fri­day, July 6.

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