MMQB: Dolegala leads top LDW performers

Now that was an OK Tire Labour Day Weekend to remember.

We had two absolute thrillers in the West Division and stellar individual efforts in all four games over the weekend. Let’s look at some of the most impressive performances from the CFL’s hallmark weekend that truly lived up to the hype.

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Jake Dolegala, Saskatchewan Roughriders

It wasn’t always easy against one of the league’s best defensive units, but Dolegala was the heartbeat of Saskatchewan’s great 32-30 comeback win over arch-rival Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon. In just his third career start, Dolegala looked especially poised and confident when the Riders needed him the most in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Dolegala completed five passes, including two chunk gains, to move Saskatchewan 60 yards and into easy field goal range for Brett Lauther to tie the game at 24 and send us to overtime. After executing two more big plays to set Antonio Pipkin up for a one-yard touchdown plunge, Dolegala saved his most confident moment for what was perhaps the biggest play of the game for last. Dolegala threaded a pass to Shawn Bane Jr. into an extremely tight window for a successful two-point convert.

“It was very small,” Dolegala admitted after the game. “If you guys could see it from my angle, I shouldn’t have thrown it.”

But that’s what a little swagger will do. Dolegala is feeling it right now and he’s helped Sask to back-to-back wins over the top two teams in the West.

 

Offensive line, Toronto Argonauts

I couldn’t pick just one lineman from Monday’s 41-28 win for the Argos in Hamilton, because the entire unit was dialled in once again. The starting five of Dejon Allen, Isiah Cage, Darius Ciraco, Ryan Hunter, and Peter Nicastro limited the Tiger-Cats to zero sacks, which is becoming somewhat of a regular feat.

Toronto has allowed just 10 sacks in 10 games this season, which is an absurd 14 less than the league’s next lowest total. On top of that, this Argonauts’ line helped open up space for another 100-yard team total on the ground led by 79 more from tailback AJ Ouellette.

T.J. Lee, BC Lions

Lee is no stranger to big spotlights and he led the way defensively as the Lions snapped a mini losing skid at two with an impressive 34-25 win over Montreal on Saturday night. Lee paced BC with eight defensive tackles from his boundary halfback position and sealed the victory late in the game with his second interception of the season. One of the league’s best defensive backs over the last decade once again came to play when the lights were brightest.

 

Jake Maier, Calgary Stampeders

On a night that was trending in a familiar and frustrating direction, Maier flipped the script in a huge way by willing Calgary to its most important win of the season. Down by 15 after 45 minutes, Maier was meticulous and accurate in leading the Stampeders on four consecutive scoring drives as they came all the way back for a crucial 35-31 victory.

On a night that wasn’t always the prettiest for Maier and the offence, Calgary’s starting quarterback made big plays when his team needed it the most. Whether it was two drive extending completions to Markeith Ambles or a five-yard touchdown keeper, Maier made great fourth quarter reads to help keep the Stamps right there in the playoff hunt.

Jamal Morrow, Saskatchewan Roughriders

On an afternoon where rushing yards were hard to come by, the Riders got creative in getting one of their best playmakers into the action. Instead of doing most of his damage in the ground game, running back Morrow caught four passes for 76 yards to help Saskatchewan knock off the Bombers. Three of those four catches came on his team’s last two drives in the fourth quarter and overtime and went for 17, 24, and 21 yards.

Vernon Adams Jr., BC Lions

You know Adams was fired up to head into his old stomping grounds on Saturday night. Remember, Adams didn’t start last year’s Labour Day Weekend game in Montreal as he was just over a week removed from being acquired by the Lions. Things were much different one year later.

Adams threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns while adding 54 more rushing yards on eight carries to help BC move to 8-4 and within a game of first place in the West Division.

Tre Ford, Edmonton Elks

I know the Elks dropped Monday’s Labour Day Classic in heartbreaking fashion, but we’d be remiss not to include Ford’s night even in a losing effort. Ford was electric in racking up 135 rushing yards on just 11 carries, which included a 40-yard scamper that had the entire league buzzing. Ford also threw for 137 yards and a touchdown in what was another step in cementing his spot at the top of Edmonton’s quarterback depth chart.

Micah Awe, Calgary Stampeders

Awe was all over the field and was poised to be one of Calgary’s bright spots had they not come all the way back to win Monday night. The win makes Awe’s outing even more impressive as he added eight more defensive tackles to bring his league-leading total to 90. Some of Awe’s work in the first three quarters helped the Stamps limit damage and kept them within striking distance heading to the fourth.

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