West Division showdown pits Riders against Lions
Vancouver, BC (SportsNetwork.com) - Unlike the East Division of the CFL after eight weeks of action, the West Division is as tight as one could imagine.
All five teams are separated by no more than two points in the standings and at the moment the Saskatchewan Roughriders have a game in hand as they face off against the Lions of British Columbia on Sunday at BC Place.
Saskatchewan, which caught a break in the schedule last month, is currently enjoying a four-game win streak and has just as many victories (five) as BC, but has played one less game.
The Roughriders were slow to warm up against Montreal at home last weekend, but the team managed to produce 11 points in the fourth quarter in order to secure a 16-11 victory over the slumping Alouettes.
Quarterback Darian Durant, who is not necessarily happy with the cut of the new uniforms, saying it interferes with his delivery, converted 19-of-30 passes for 221 yards and a score, while being sacked three times in the close call against Montreal. Rob Bagg, who caught the lone TD pass, had six receptions for a game-high 90 yards. Bagg was named the CFL's top Canadian last week for his efforts.
Defensively, the Riders limited an undermanned Montreal squad to just 285 yards of offense, with John Chick recording three of his four tackles against quarterback Alex Brink. Chick, who also forced a fumble, was named the CFL Defensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive time.
Chick, a member of the Riders between 2007-09 before taking a shot in the NFL with both the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars, now has a league-leading 12 sacks, five more than his closest competition. While there is still more than half the season to be played, it is not difficult projecting Chick breaking the CFL's single-season record for sacks, set by James Parker at 26.5 in 1984 with the Lions.
Not surprisingly, the Riders currently lead the league in total sacks with 29, even though they've played only seven games.
When it comes to taking down the opposing quarterback, British Columbia doesn't have the same knack as the Roughriders. Through eight contests, the Lions have managed to post only 16 sacks, which is the second-fewest in the league behind only Hamilton (14). However, in an odd twist, tied as the second-leading sack man in the CFL is BC defensive tackle Alex Bazzie who has seven such stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Playing in his first CFL campaign, Bazzie was an integral part of BC's 33-17 win over Toronto last Sunday as he delivered a personal-best seven tackles, one of those being a sack against Ricky Ray.
After opening a 10-0 lead in the first quarter versus the Argonauts, BC managed just three points over the next two frames and found itself trailing 17-13 in the fourth before erupting for 20-unanswered points for the win.
Kevin Glenn converted just 14-of-25 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown, but he and the offense got a huge lift from running back Stefan Logan who erupted for a game-high 145 yards and a score on 19 carries. Logan, who was filling the void left by an injured Andrew Harris, added five catches for 49 yards en route to being named the CFL Offensive Player of the Week.
Not to be overlooked was Tim Brown who returned a career-high 10 punts for 169 yards and brought back three kickoffs for another 80 yards as he was named the CFL Special Teams Player of the Week.
Also vying for league-wide accolades was defensive back Ronnie Yell who picked off a pass in the closing minutes and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. In this his rookie season, Yell now has two interceptions, both of which he has returned for majors.
These teams met earlier this season during Week 3 action at Mosaic Stadium, with the Lions doubling up Saskatchewan, 26-13. In that battle, Harris ran for 138 yards and a score for BC, adding five catches for another 65 yards as Glenn converted 16-of-27 passes for 170 yards. Kicker Paul McCallum knocked through three of his four field goal chances and finished with 11 points for the visitors.
Durant struggled in a big way for the Riders, converting a mere 15-of-34 attempts for 191 yards and a score, was picked off once and sacked two times as Saskatchewan sputtered.
With that last victory, Saskatchewan's advantage in the all-time series now sits at 94-84-4, with the Lions winning eight of the last 12 encounters.
08/20 11:10:17 ET