2018 CFL Playoff Summary

By: Jerred Bapty

Sunday, November 25, 2018

East Division 

HAMILTON -- The BC Lions were this year’s crossover team attempting to be the first ever to win a Grey Cup. Their attempt fell short when they came up against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Eastern Semi-Final on Sunday Nov. 11th.

Going into the game, Hamilton had BC’s number at Tim Horton’s Field, with their regular season meeting being a 40-10 beatdown to finish their home-at-home at the end of September. After a season of ups and downs, both teams had something to prove. 

BC Quarterback Travis Lulay was held to 103 yards two and a half quarters by Hamilton’s defence and gave up 2 fumbles and an interception, with no points to show for his efforts. He was replaced by Jonathan Jennings midway through the 3rd, who didn’t fare much better. Jennings mananged 172 yards and finally threw a touchdown in the 4thquarter. 

This game was a dominant performance on both sides of the ball for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. QB Jeremiah Masoli threw 259 yards and 3 touchdowns and gave way for the backup Dane Evans in the 4thquarter to make sure Masoli was healthy for the East Final. Masoli hit Bralon Addison 5 times for 124 yards and a breakout performance for the young receiver, while Luke Tasker caught two of 3 touchdown passes. 

On Defence, Frankie Williams caught the interception thrown by Lulay and returned it for a touchdown, while Adrian Tracy and Simoni Lawrence recovered the fumbles. Lawrence had a 92-yard run on his fumble pickup and was knocked out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Hamilton scored a touchdown off all three turnovers, had 4 quarterback sacks, and 6 pass knockdowns. A total domination by the Ticats and a final score of 48-8. 

OTTAWA -- In the East Final, Hamilton was up against a team that this season has arguably become just as much of a rival as the Toronto Argonauts, the Ottawa Redblacks. The Ticats lost all three regular season games to Ottawa, but the first two losses were very close games. A 21-15 defensive battle back in Week 7, then an offensive back-and-forth in Week 19, but in Week 20, it seemed Ottawa had figured Hamilton out. 

The Ticats’ top receiver Brandon Banks went down in Week 19 and Hamilton had no answer as Ottawa cruised to a 30-13 victory. Hamilton needed to shut down Ottawa’s lethal receiving core if they wanted to get through to the 106thGrey Cup. 

They didn’t do that at all. Hamilton’s defence seemed to remain in a zone formation despite constantly being exploited by Ottawa QB Trevor Harris and his stellar offence. Former Ticat Greg Ellingson had 8 catches to bring him to 99 on the season for 144 yards and a touchdown, while RJ Harris and Diontae Spencer had 6 touches each. Hamilton couldn’t even contain Running Back William Powell, who ran for 86 yards. 

Trevor Harris found 10 different receivers for a playoff record 6 touchdown passes and essentially picked Hamilton’s defence apart. He threw an incredible 90.6% and 367 yards, a truly stellar performance. 

Jeremiah Masoli meanwhile was rattled early in the game and often had little time to get the ball off properly, throwing 3 interceptions. Ottawa’s first play following each turnover was a touchdown for a final score of 46-27. 

So both Eastern Division playoff games were dominant performances by the better team, resulting in a well-deserved Grey Cup berth for the Ottawa Redblacks. 

West Divison

REGINA – Saskatchewan Roughriders QB Zach Collaros was ruled out of the Western Semi-Final less than 24 hours prior to kick-off because of lingering concussion symptoms. He was hit high and late in Saskatchewan’s Week 20 game vs. BC. They had the Bye in Week 21, but that wasn’t enough rest for Collaros and Brandon Bridge got the start for the Riders. 

The game started much slower than the East Semi-Final, with only field goals being scored in the 1stquarter. Neither Bridge, nor Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB Matt Nichols could get anything going in the red zone until the 2ndquarter when Nichols found Drew Wolitarsky in the end zone for a touchdown. Winnipeg their second offensive touchdown in the 4thwhen Running Back Andrew Harris recovered his own fumble in the end zone. Saskatchewan got their own touchdown soon after with the help of a major pass interference penalty, but it wasn’t enough. 

The Riders defence couldn’t contain Harris, who ran for 153 yards and a touchdown including a 37-yard dash. Matt Nichols managed 169 yards and a touchdown. 

Brandon Bridge meanwhile did almost as much rushing as he did throwing, with 100 passing yards and 86 rushing. 

The difference in this game was turnovers. Both Bridge and backup QB David Watford threw an interception for Saskatchewan, while Winnipeg fumbled the ball just once, that one for Harris that he recovered himself. Winnipeg advanced to the West final with a 23-18 victory. 

CALGARY – The West Final was of a similar nature. A low-scoring, defensive battle that was ultimately won by 2018’s Most Outstanding Player, Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. 

Sure, he only threw for 214 yards, but he found Receiver Eric Rogers three times in the end zone for 18 of their 22 points. 

Neither QB truly found their groove as both defenses stepped up and forced three shut out quarters in total. Winnipeg was shut out in the 2nd, while Calgary was shut out in the 1stand 3rd. And it was that 2ndquarter where the Stampeders won this game. They outscored the Blue Bombers 14-0 and then 8 in the 4thand advanced to the Grey Cup for the third straight year. 

A hard-fought game by Winnipeg, but sadly for them their Grey Cup drought continues with a final score of 22-14. 

Let me know what you think!!

Twitter: @Captainbapty

Email: jerred@barnburner.ca

Photo: @CFL