Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hall impresses at times in first start

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback merry-go-round stopped on three different quarterbacks on Friday night, none producing enough big plays for a win.

The Bombers, with Max Hall behind centre for most of the game, lost 37-18 to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Investors Group Field, falling to 1-6.

All three pivots played and Hall, in his first CFL game, completed 18 of 30 passes for 241 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Justin Goltz ran several "wildcat" run plays for the Bombers, and had two official rushes.

Buck Pierce relieved Hall briefly in the third quarter, for one series, when Hall had taken a shot to the sternum. Pierce completed both passes he threw.

"I thought he (Hall) had some real positive moments," head coach Tim Burke said. "He was pretty accurate with his passes. He moved the ball. There was a point where he was a little bit off and then we found out he'd been hit and was hurting a little bit, so that's when we put Buck in."

Burke wouldn't commit to a quarterback for next week's return match with the Tiger-Cats in Guelph, Ont.

"We'll talk about it," he said.

Receiver Terrence Edwards, who combined with Hall for a good night -- eight catches, 172 yards -- gave his quarterback a vote of confidence.

"I thought he played well," Edwards said. "Better in the first half. We didn't play as well as a whole -- you can't just pinpoint the quarterback, we didn't play so well as a whole in the second half and that's been our Achilles heel. The second half's been terrible for us so we've got to get back. We just have to come out faster in the second half."

Even Pierce voiced his support for Hall.

"I thought Max did some good things, really did some good things out there," Pierce said after the game. "He played with poise and played aggressive. He didn't play like a guy in his first game in the CFL.

"He took the throws he wanted to throw. He'll learn from it. I'm glad that he has a game under his belt. I think he shows a lot of promise in this league. His attitude is great. And he'll learn. He'll continue to learn."

Hall, the 27-year-old Arizonan signed by the Bombers in the off-season, sounded very upbeat, even after the 19-point defeat.

"It seems that when we did make a little mistake, it kind of got magnified," he said. "And it turned into that sack/fumble. And miscommunication on the two routes caused two interceptions. I think it hurt us when Chris (Matthews) went down because we had to kind of shuffle some guys around in the receiving corps and it caused some miscommunication because I wasn't used to guys being in that spot.

"The good thing is there are things we can fix, things we can look at and get better at. I thought as an offence, we got better this week. We've just got to stay hungry and keep working on it."

Hall also mentioned the Bombers' continuing third-quarter woes.

"We had a bad third quarter again," he said. "We have to come out of halftime and have a better third quarter. I thought we had a good first half. We moved the ball well but we've got to score more points.

"There are a lot of positives to come out of this game but it wasn't enough to win. We've got to step up and get this thing turned over to where we're scoring points and winning games."

One big problem the Bombers had Friday was that six drives started inside their own 20.

"When you're back there all the time. I think it would have helped us for a turnover or I thought the return game was good tonight but it seemed like when we had a big return, there was a penalty," Hall said. "You hate to blame things on penalties but penalties killed us tonight, especially some of the stuff they called on defence.

"The problem is we had really good stuff we were never able to get to because we couldn't flip the field. We have to maybe look at the plays we're running backed up and figure out a better way to get out."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2013 C3

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