Tough start for Roughriders, Crapigna

Tyler Crapigna and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the CFL’s hard-luck kids

Saskatchewan finds itself 0-2 this season but both losses have been by a combined four points. The Riders dropped their season opener in Montreal 17-16 before losing a wild 43-40 double-overtime decision Saturday night to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the first game played at the new Mosaic Stadium.

In both games, Crapigna was in a position to earn the Riders the win. The 24-year-old Ottawa native missed a 45-yard field goal try on the final play versus the Alouettes then hit the uprights from 33 yards out in the second overtime period against Winnipeg, setting up Justin Medlock’s game-winning 28-yard boot.

It’s not as if Crapigna is struggling. He connected on his first four attempts Saturday and has made 7-of-9 field goals and all five converts he’s attempted this year. It’s just that his misses have been costly ones.

The Riders return to Mosaic Stadium on Saturday to host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who come off the bye following their season-opening 32-15 road loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

The loss to Winnipeg tarnished a solid performance by Kevin Glenn. The Riders’ veteran quarterback threw for 377 yards and four TDs with two interceptions.

But Winnipeg receiver Weston Dressler had six catches for 124 yards and two TDs against his former team as the Bombers rolled up 430 yards offensively.

Another former Rider, quarterback Darian Durant, threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns for the Alouettes.

Saskatchewan hopes that trend doesn’t continue against Hamilton, whose defence features former Riders defensive lineman John Chick. But the Ticats will be without 1,000-yard receiver Terrence Toliver, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Toronto.

That’s a big blow to a receiving corps already minus veteran Canadian slotback Andy Fantuz, who continues to rehabilitate from a knee injury suffered Oct. 28.

Hamilton had trouble protecting quarterback Zach Collaros against Toronto. The Argos held Collaros to 242 yards passing with no TDs and an interception while sacking the Ticats’ starter five times.

What’s more, Ricky Ray threw for a career-high 506 yards as the Argos outgained Hamilton by a whopping 545-298 yard margin. Toronto also took control of the contest in the second half, outscoring the Ticats 17-3 to secure the win.

Prediction: Saskatchewan.

B.C. Lions versus Montreal Alouettes (Thursday night)

A solid defensive performance earned B.C. (1-1) its first win of the season as the offence converted two Ronnie Yell turnovers into 10 second-half points. And when it mattered most, Jonathon Jennings came through for the Lions with 301 passing yards and a fourth-quarter TD strike to Chris Rainey, then a two-point conversion to Nick Moore. And the receiving tandem of Emmanuel Arceneaux and Bryan Burnham combined for over 200 yards. Offensively, Montreal (1-1) has been inconsistent so far this season, not exactly an ideal situation facing a confident B.C. defence.

Prediction: B.C.

Calgary Stampeders versus Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Friday night)

An interesting matchup here. Matt Nichols threw for 331 yards and four TDs in leading Winnipeg (1-0) to an exciting 43-40 double overtime win over Saskatchewan last week. And his numbers could’ve been even more impressive if not for some drops by Bombers receivers. Bo Levi Mitchell, the reigning CFL MVP, had 295 yards passing with three TDs in leading Calgary (1-0-1) past Ottawa 43-39 as the Stampeders and Redblacks concluded their home-and-home series to open the season. Winnipeg certainly has home-field advantage but it’s hard to look past Mitchell’s stellar 44-7-2 record as a CFL starter.

Predicton: Calgary.

Toronto Argonauts versus Ottawa Redblacks (Saturday night)

Ottawa (0-1-1) gets the chance to face a different opponent after opening the season with a home-and-home series versus Calgary. Trevor Harris threw for 425 yards and two TDs in a 43-39 loss to the Stampeders last week. Brad Sinopoli (seven catches, 133 yards), Greg Ellingson (seven catches, 111 yards, one TD) and former Argos Diontae Spencer (three catches, 107 yards, one TD) all cracked the 100-yard plateau. Toronto starter Ricky Ray is the CFL passing leader with 833 yards but the veteran quarterback has also been sacked seven times. But defence in Toronto (1-1) has been solid to start the season.

Prediction: Ottawa.

Last week: 3-1.

Overall: 4-3-1.

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