MAC'S MAIN MAN
The last few weeks have been make or break career-wise for Chad Kackert of the Toronto Argonauts. The second-year running back was given the reigns and full confidence of the coaching staff when starter Cory Boyd was unceremoniously released earlier this season.
Kackert's fumble troubles are well documented and we at 3rd And Long have not shied away from criticizing his struggles of holding onto the football. However, the 25-year old has risen up since Boyd's departure and did so in his most impressive manner to date this past Saturday.
Toronto was coming off a narrow road victory in Hamilton and hosting the Tiger-Cats in a Labour Day rematch at Rogers Centre. Even after watching Saturday's game, I had to do a double take at how incredible Kackert's statistics were in a wild 45-31 victory.
The Simi Valley, Calif., native made his presence known early as he burst through the line and went untouched for a 43-yard touchdown run, much to the delight of the home crowd. Kackert collected the hat trick with two more TD romps of 11 and 39 yards during the fourth quarter. What impressed me most is that these weren't little punch-ins at the goal-line, but sizeable gains for scores.
If a three TD day wasn't good enough, how about his contributions in the passing game? Kackert totalled six receptions for 67 yards, including a 17-yard catch. Get your calculators out mathematicians because the grand totals of 172 rushing and 239 all-purpose yards make him Mac's Main Man for Week 11.
Thanks to Mr. Kackert, Toronto now holds a share of first place in the CFL East Division and will rely heavily on his quick feet when the Boatmen face the defending Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions this Saturday night.
A fist bump goes to quarterbacks Ricky Ray (Toronto) and Travis Lulay (B.C.), who tossed up some solid stats themselves in winning efforts.
-- Andy McNamara
Before the Saskatchewan Roughriders took on the Winnipeg Blue bombers in their home-and-home series, they were playing the worst football in the CFL. After jumping out to a red-hot start, things quickly cooled off and talk of Saskatchewan missing the playoffs quickly arose.
Skip ahead two weeks and the Roughriders have swept their Banjo Bowl rivals and have a little bit of swagger back. However, Saskatchewan finished both games with starting quarterback and franchise player Darian Durant sidelined due to an injury.
Durant missing plays didn't matter in the first meeting between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan -- a 52-0 blowout win for the Riders -- but he went down early in the rematch, leaving the offence in the hands of rookie backup Drew Willy.
Willy, a former Buffalo Bills product, admits he is, kind of, new to the game and is still trying to learn the unique style of the CFL. He had only seen action in three prior games, going a combined 15-18 for 154 yards. But on Sunday, the rookie looked as though he had been doing it for years.
Willy completed 17 of 23 for 188 yards and a touchdown with an interception. But what stood out was a late-game drive that set up a 40-yard, game-winning field goal by Sandro DeAngelis.
The questions will start to be asked now about Willy and the Riders, who may have gotten bitten by the injury bug at the wrong time in the season. Durant may miss extended time and Weston Dressler, who left Sunday's game with an apparent concussion, may need time to mend as well.
Willy may not be the answer to some of the questions being asked about the Riders, but he was, no doubt, the solution to the problem that laid in front of them Sunday afternoon, picking up a huge road win which may get the team back on the right track.
-- Carlan Gay
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