Montreal Alouettes vs. Calgary Stampeders @ McMahon Stadium – August 1, 2015

Montreal Alouettes' quarterback Cato passes the football during their CFL football game against the Calgary Stampeders in CalgaryComing off their bye week Montreal seemed in good shape despite their 2-2 record and the fact that they have not won in Calgary since 2009. In good shape because their opponents, the Grey Cup defending champions, were coming into the game with a line-up ravaged by injuries. A mere five games into the season the Stampeders have injuries everywhere with the latest being to their brilliant running back, Jon Cornish. In good shape because the Als seem to have found a quarterback that can lead them to victory. Despite the fact that he has been underappreciated all his career and is a rookie, Rakeem Cato is the quarterback I have had the most confidence in since the end of the Anthony Calvillo era. In good shape because in the second week of the season Montreal, with rookie Cato making his first start in the CFL, won against Calgary in dominating fashion.

To start off the game Calgary won the toss but elected to kick off to Montreal. They wanted to go against the wind in the 1st quarter. Montreal did what any team with playoff aspirations would in that they made Calgary pay for that. After both teams started with two and out offensive series Montreal took the bull (or game) by the horns and scored 17 straight points before the Stamps could collect themselves.

It all started at the 5:15 mark when rookie kicker Boris Bede, the man with a cannon as a leg, got his team on the scoreboard with a 37-yard field goal. Five minutes later Cato hooked up with his favourite target of his young career, S.J. Green, on a 51-yard touchdown. It was Green’s 40th CFL touchdown of his career. At 11:58, right after Calgary went two and out again, punt returner Stefan Logan returned a Rob Maver punt for another Montreal major. It started off badly for Maver with the punt almost being blocked and that threw his timing off a little leading to a short and low punt. This did not allow his blockers to be completely ready and Logan burned them for a 73-yard return. It was the first punt return for a touchdown for Logan in the CFL. The point after was good by Bede and Montreal was up 17-0. This left Stampeders fans shaking their heads.

montreal alouettes vs calgary4Early on in the game the Stampeders offense was totally being manhandled by the Als’ defense. Big hits were made and pressure was getting to Bo Levi Mitchell. Calgary receivers seemed reluctant to go inside to make catches after some big hits by the Montreal defense.

Despite the fact that they are the defending Grey Cup champions the Stampeders are having their share of troubles so far this season. They are in 2nd place in the West behind the Edmonton Eskimos with a 3-2 record, but that does not tell the whole story. First of all, they are minus 6 in giveaway/takeaways. Next is that they are having trouble so far getting good yardage on 1st downs. Third, they are taking a lot of special team penalties. And finally there is the aforementioned injuries. The Stampeders are a team that is struggling and is not accustomed to it. Going down by 17 points at home against Montreal in the 1st quarter could not have been good for their confidence. 17-0 Montreal at the end of the 1st quarter.

Things on the other side of the field were looking much better. It was complete domination by the Als in the 1st quarter. Plus it was the 4th time in 5 games that Montreal had shut out their opponents in the 1st quarter. The good (or bad depending on your position in this) thing about the CFL is that the game is never over and that no lead is really safe because of its high scoring nature and rules, field size, etc. that lend to scoring. Games can turn around quickly and it doesn’t take much time to score points.

That is exactly what happening in this game and from the 2nd quarter on it was the Stampeders who set the tone. They quickly changed the allure of the game by putting points on the board in rapid succession before half time. At 1:12 of the 2nd quarter they scored their first touchdown on a 1 yard pass from Bo Levi Mitchell to his favourite target of the day, Marquay McDaniel. Two minutes and 40 seconds later they doubled their points when Mitchell found Eric Rogers in the endzone. It was a 35-yard pass that occurred because Rogers was able to shake off the coverage by Billy Parker. It was now a much tighter 17-14 Montreal.

Through his 4 games as the team’s starter, quarterback Cato has demonstrated that he is quite able of making precise passes on the move. This did not happen at the 6:25 mark of the 2nd quarter when Joe Burnett picked of his pass on the Calgary 10 yard line snuffing out a Montreal march down the field. Cato made up for this error on his team’s next possession by bringing them into Bede’s range (which is admittedly quite large) allowing him to post his second field goal of the game at 12:24 making the score 20-14 Montreal.

Unfortunately that was pretty much all the scoring Montreal would do in this game while Calgary was not done yet. Calgary responded to that 3 points on their very next offensive series with their own field goal. A 27-yarder by Rene Paredes that made the game a 3 point affair going into the half time break. 20-17 Montreal. This must have been worrying for Montreal in that they jumped out to that 17 point lead early on, but could seemingly do nothing to stop Calgary’s offense in the 2nd quarter as they put up 17 points of their own at a time where the Montreal offense was sputtering and could only manage 3.

montreal alouettes vs calgary2Another early touchdown by Calgary coming out of the break seemed to signal that they and not the visiting side were in control of the game. It was once again the Mitchell and McDaniel combination that resulted in 6 points on a 42-yard pass and run play. Result was the first lead, and one they would not relinquish, of the game for Calgary. 24-20 Calgary.

For 11 straight games the Montreal Alouettes has held their opponents to under 30 points. This streak was in jeopardy with Calgary seemingly able to march down the field at will and amassing plenty of offensive yards. Montreal’s defensive coordinator, Noel Thorpe, was obviously not a happy man on the sidelines. He was more animated that normal and tore a strip out of defensive back Mitchell White for biting on fakes by Eric Rogers. You cannot blame him as over the last 2 quarters of play his team has given up around 300 yards to Calgary.

One thing that might have been working against the Alouettes was the fact that veteran wide out Fred Stamps was not with the team this week. He had left the side due to family obligations. Starting in his place was receiver Dobson Collins. Though you might not be familiar with the name he is a veteran in the CFL. The 28-year-old who played his college ball at Gardner Webb has played with the Hamilton Tiger Cats, B.C. Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, and the Ottawa RedBlacks over his four years in the league. Despite his size at 6’2” and 185 pounds he has earned a reputation for fumbling the ball. And the reason why was on display late in the 3rd quarter.

It is a hard sell to convince you that the last offensive series for Montreal in the 3rd quarter sealed their defeat in that there was 17 minutes left in the game and it was a close score, but it really did. The turning point for me in this game was on 2nd down as Montreal was marching down the field and with Cato once again scrambling to get away from pressure he managed to find a wide open Dobson Collins. Collins ran to just inside the Calgary 10 yard line when he was stripped of the ball because he did not secure it. The ball was recovered by Calgary on their own 2 yard line.

For me this was game over as Montreal did not respond to Calgary’s taking the lead. The offense went dead and that could have something to do with the fact that early on in the 3rd quarter running back Tyrell Sutton left the game with what seemed like a leg injury. Brandon Rutley replaced him for the rest of the game and while he did fairly well it was not the same as when Sutton is in.

There was not much scoring in the final quarter with Calgary adding a point at 6:18 on a missed 36-yard field goal attempt by Paredes. 25-20 Calgary. With under two minutes left in the game Montreal went for it from the Calgary 23 yard line on 3rd and 2. Collins once again hurt his team by being assessed a procedure penalty on the play which turned the ball over to Calgary on downs. Calgary kept the ball on the ground with rookie back up running back Tory Harrison in his first CFL game pounding it forward for first down. Montreal did score two more points or more accurately Calgary conceded two more points with 7 seconds left in the game. On 3rd down Calgary Mitchell took the snap and threw the ball back into the end zone to receiver Jeff Fuller, who conceded the two points while running down the clock. 25-22 Calgary.

With the loss Montreal falls to 4th (last) place in the East and now sports a below .500 record of 2-3. Their next game, after a short week, is once again on the road on Friday evening against a team above them in the standings, the Ottawa RedBlacks.

Game Stats:
-Scoring:
1 2 3 4 T
Calgary 0 17 7 1 25
Montreal 17 3 0 2 22
-Passing:
Montreal Name Comp Att Yards TD Int
CATO, R 20 32 278 1 1
Calgary Name Comp Att Yards TD Int
MITCHELL, B 23 32 329 2 0
TATE, D 1 1 1 1 0
-Rushing:
Montreal Name No Yards Lg TD
SUTTON, T 14 77 11 0
CATO, R 5 33 13 0
RUTLEY, B 5 25 8 0
GIGUERE, S 1 11 11 0
Calgary Name No Yards Lg TD
HARRISON, T 8 47 13 0
WALTER, M 8 40 14 0
MCDANIEL, M 1 5 5 0
MITCHELL, B 1 1 1 0
MONIZ, B 1 1 1 0
-Receiving:
Montreal Name No Yards Lg TD
GREEN, S 7 132 51 1
COLLINS, D 3 51 41 0
LEWIS, N 3 41 24 0
RUTLEY, B 3 31 14 0
CHARETTE, A 2 12 13 0
BEAULIEU, J 1 8 8 0
GIGUERE, S 1 3 3 0
Calgary Name No Yards Lg TD
MCDANIEL, M 7 126 42 2
ROGERS, E 4 63 34 1
FULLER, J 5 60 23 0
WILSON, G 1 36 36 0
HARRISON, T 4 23 10 0
PARKER, A 2 13 8 0
COTE, R 1 9 9 0
-Player of the Game: Marquay McDaniel – Calgary (7 receptions, 126 yards, 2 touchdowns)
-Final Score: Montreal – 22
Calgary – 25

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