On a beautiful afternoon that was perfect for football (not too hot, not a lot of wind, no precipitation) the Montreal Alouettes looked to start their first winning streak of the 2014 CFL season. For over a decade now in Montreal we have been spoiled when it comes to our CFL team. With quarterback Anthony Calvillo at the helm the team over that period has always been one of the best in the league with a couple of Grey Cups to prove it. Calvillo retired this off season and things have changed for the Alouettes. Nine games into the season they have a terrible record of 2-7 and fans (showing up in fewer numbers at home games) are grumbling. Montreal sports fans have never been too patient when it comes to rebuilding; we want to win and we want to win now. Looking at things like the glass is half full in a season that hasn’t been remarkable in any respect so far, coming off a victory last week against the Ottawa Red Blacks the Alouettes were looking to get on a roll and start a winning streak.
Another positive is that Montreal is playing in the East. If they were part of the West with a 2-7 record they would already probably be out of the playoff picture. Because everyone in the East is struggling this season despite their poor record Montreal sat in 2nd place coming into this game against Hamilton. Whoever won this game would find themselves in a 1st place tie with Toronto.
Unveiling their new Signature Look uniforms on the day of running back Brandon Whitaker’s 29th birthday, the Alouettes got off to a quick start. It was exactly what a team with such a poor record could have hoped for. Before the Montreal offense took the field the defensive unit had already scored a touchdown. After starting quarterback Zach Colleros had earned the Tiger Cats a first down via a couple of runs he then on their third offensive play handed the ball off to running back Mossis Madu. Madu made a nice 7 yard run, but at the end while being tackled by defensive end John Bowman he fumbled the ball. Reacting quickly Winston Venable picked up the ball and lumbered 59 yards for a touchdown. A Sean Whyte convert later and it was 7-0 Montreal.
Hamilton collected themselves and on their next possession reduced the lead to 4 points when Justin Medlock connected on a 47 yard field goal. 7-3 Montreal.
Next series, Jonathan Crompton, who was making his second start in an Alouettes uniform, came on to try and complete his first pass. He was going to have to wait a bit as an attempted pass to James Rodgers was deflected directly into the hands of Rico Murray, who galloped 40 yards into the Montreal endzone. 10-7 Hamilton.
Despite their record the Montreal defensive unit had performed well this season. Only crumbling after sustained pressure. The Collaros-led offense seemed to have them confused, however. In the 1st quarter alone Hamilton accumulated 112 yards of offense. Included in that outburst was another touchdown on the last play of the 1st quarter. After a couple of offside penalties against Bowman and Kyries Hebert moving Hamilton closer to the Als’ end zone. On the 3 yard line Collaros, who was playing only his second game since the end of July due to a concussion, lobbed a pass to Andy Fantuz to widen Hamilton’s lead to 17-7.
In the 2nd quarter the Montreal offense still was sputtering with little to no production on 1st down leaving them with plenty of difficult 2nd and longs which they could not convert, but the defense tightened up only allowing 4 points off a 12 yard field goal and a single point via a punt both by Medlock. 21-7 Hamilton.
In the 2nd half the Montreal team that took the field was completely different from that of the 1st half. Defensively they shut down the Tiger Cats and offensively they outscored them 31 – 10. Night and day.
After the two sides traded field goals to make the score 24-10 Hamilton the Alouettes then exploded offensively. Billy Parker intercepted a Collaros pass and returned it to the Hamilton 4 yard line. Back-up quarterback punched it in from the 1 yard line a couple of plays later. In a display of whatever you do I can do better with no time left on the clock in the 3rd quarter Crompton hooked up with Duron Carter on a 10 yard pass for his first touchdown reception of the year. It was a nice catch by Carter as he had to stretch up high for the ball and then make sure he got his feet in bounds before tumbling to the ground. We were all tied up at 24-24 at this point. It was game on for the 4th quarter.
Three turnovers created by the Montreal defense up to this point had resulted in 17 points and brought them back into the game by shortening the field for the offense. Breaking the game open was punt returner James Rodgers. At 1:31 of the 4th quarter he returned a Medlock punt 82 yards right up the middle of the field. 31-24 Montreal.
The crowd was not back into it and loud. They felt that their side had all the momentum and could win the game after being down by 14 points at half time. The roar became even louder when the defense stopped the Tiger Cats on a 3rd and 1 to get the ball back. The turnover on downs led to another Montreal touchdown. It was Marsh from the 1 yard line again for his second of the day. 38-24 Montreal with less than 3 minutes left in the game.
Hamilton made it a little tighter after recovering a Tyrell Sutton fumble with less than a minute left in the game. A second touchdown by Fantuz made the score 38-31, but Montreal was able to hold on after the Hamilton short kick was caught by S.J. Green.
This was the 17th win in a row for Montreal against Hamilton at home. They haven’t lost at home against them since 2002. Next up for Montreal is the Edmonton Eskimos in Edmonton on Friday night. Hopefully the winning streak will be at three at the end of that game.
– Box Score
1 2 3 4 – F
Hamilton 17 4 3 7 31
Montreal 7 0 17 14 38
– HAM Passing
Name Comp Att Yards TD Int
COLLAROS, Z 30 43 338 2 1
Name Comp Att Yards TD Int
CROMPTON, J 18 27 206 1 1
MARSH, T 0 1 0 0 0
– HAM Rushing
Name No Yards Lg TD
MADU, M 9 48 12 0
COLLAROS, Z 9 36 9 0
MASOLI, J 2 1 1 0
KOCH, C 1 -6 0 0
Name No Yards Lg TD
WHITAKER, B 8 28 12 0
SUTTON, T 3 7 5 0
MARSH, T 4 4 2 2
CROMPTON, J 1 3 3 0
-Alouettes Player of the Game: Jonathan Crompton – completed 11 of 14 passes in the 2nd half
-Final Score: Montreal – 38
Hamilton – 31