Montreal Alouettes vs. Calgary Stampeders @ Percival Molson Stadium – July 14, 2017

The game started on a positive note for the offensively challenged Als. On their first play from scrimmage deep in their own end, Darian Durant connected on an 80 yard pass with high profile wide receiver Ernest Jackson. Despite the big gain the home side was not able to punch it into the endzone and had to settle from 3 points courtesy of the season’s offensive star so far, Boris Bede. 3-0 Montreal.

Calgary, an impressive offensive squad led by QB Bo Levi Mitchell, was able to answer right away. Picking away at the Montreal defense with a highlight reel one handed catch by Kamar Jorden as just one of the seemingly easy gains. Mitchell demonstrated the seemingly effortless and accurate throwing he has done so far this season. The Stamps too stalled in the red zone and had to settle for a Rene Paredes field goal to tie the game 3-3.

The next couple of offensive plays for the Alouettes took the shine off of the good start. Most of the blame for that has to fall squarely on the shoulders of veteran quarterback Durant. Drives ended quickly a couple of times when he through the ball right into the hands of defensive players for interceptions. While the first interception by Calgary’s Ciante Evans might have been a good play by the defensive player the second was a groaner.

imageWith the game still tied early in the 2nd quarter, Durant was flushed from the pocket and instead of just taking the sack in desperation he threw the ball into the hands of a player in the wrong colour uniform. Defensive back Tommie Campbell won’t have many easier interceptions in his career. Many in the crowd began to demonstrate some frustration with Durant and were hopeful that a QB change was imminent when the back-up Jacory Harris was seen to be warming up on the sidelines.  Head coach Jacques Chapdelaine stuck with the veteran and as it turned out that was the right decision.

Calgary took the lead after the second interception. Another drive that seemed a little too easy with another great grab by Jorden, this time going up high over the middle. The Montreal defense held tight as they got closer to the endzone and Calgary again had to settle for a field goal. 6-3 Calgary. The game remained touchdownless.

Towards the end of the 1st half is when Durant seemed to click into gear. He showed better touch on his passes and a couple of those were to the heart of the team, Nik Lewis. Late in the 1st half he caught two passes that allowed him to pull ahead of beloved former Alouettes Ben Cahoon into 6th place all-time on the CFL’s receiving list. After a big 27 yard gain by running back Beaulieu, Durant then connected with B.J. Cunningham on a 39 yard touchdown pass. Cunningham’s shake and bake move caused the Calgary defender on the play to fall down and left him wide open into the endzone. 10-6 Montreal.

Once again the defense came through on the very next Calgary drive. Linebacker Chris Ackie stripped Calgary running back and former Al Jerome Messam of the ball which was scooped up by defensive back Branden Dozier for a 20 yard touchdown romp. Unfortunately Bede missed the conversion. 16-6 Montreal. This stung Calgary even more when Messam was ejected from the game due to an altercation he got into with Chip Cox on the play.

Calgary ended the half by marching down the field on their next offensive series only to stall again and have Paredes come on for another field goal. 16-9 Montreal.

Starting the 2nd half, Calgary had replaced Messam by Roy Finch in the running back position. He did well, especially early on catching a few out of the backfield to keep drives going. Mitchell, having some time, found DeVaris Daniels for a 30 yard touchdown play to close the gap between the two sides. 16-16. That did not last long as punter Rob Maver earned a single point when he put a punt through the Als’ end zone. 17-16 Calgary.

Calgary seemed to be back on top in the game as they put together another good drive at the end of the 3rd quarter that resulted in another field goal for Paredes. 20-16 Calgary. Not to worry as the 4th quarter belonged to the home side. The Stampeders were held to a field goal by the Montreal defense while the Als’ offense came to life.

Montreal Alouettes vs Calgary StampedersOn the opening drive of the 4th quarter running back Tyrell Sutton began to win the battle against the Calgary defense. He strung together a couple of good runs with the best being a 14 yard touchdown run to make the game 23-20 Montreal. That lead did not last long as Calgary tied up the game 23-23 with another field goal.

As rain began to fall on an overcast night in Montreal the Als’ offense embarked on the winning drive of the game. The highlight of the drive was an amazing 21 yard reception by Jackson. Durant put up a pass that was anyone’s ball and Jackson managed to go higher than the man covering him to pluck it off the Evans’ helmet and then held on to the ball as he came crashing to the ground. Next up was a 19 yard catch by the tank Lewis which set up a 1 yard rushing touchdown by 3rd string QB Vernon Adams Jr. That was all she wrote offensively for either side and Montreal had a victory to level them at 2-2 for the season. 30-23 Montreal.

This was the first defeat of the season for Calgary and an end to their very impressive 19 game regular season undefeated string. Confidence building for the Montreal team?  We shall see.

fbo-cfl-stampeders-alouettes-20170714Sloppy play was a big part of the game especially for Montreal. In the 1st half often on offense it seemed like several players did not know what play they were running and the confusion was evident. The result was that it often looked like sandlot football instead of a professional game. Another frustrating aspect of the game were all the penalties that the Alouettes took. They were guilty on many occasions of shooting themselves in the foot. Before the end of the 1st half the team had already amassed more than 100 yards in penalties. Unacceptable and if the Als want to be successful they have to put an end to the indiscipline.

A plus for the team was the fact that receiver Jackson was able to make an impact. Not often the target of Durant early in the season, it was nice to see the two finally hook up. Jackson ended the game with 118 receiving yards.

Another plus was once again the Montreal defense under the guidance of Noel Thorpe. They were able to keep the team in the game until the offense woke up in the 2nd half. It seems like they are once again going to be the catalyst if Montreal has any hope of doing well this season. The defensive line was able to get some pressure on Mitchell disrupting his rhythm and stalwart John Bowman got his 114th career sack in the 2nd quarter.

Offensively the running game was again a weapon for the Als. Sutton scored a touchdown while earning 85 yards on the ground keeping him in first place amongst the league’s rushers and Jean-Christophe Beaulieu came in a couple of times for a nice change of pace.

Next up for the Als is a game against last year’s Grey Cup winners, the Ottawa REDBLACKS on July 19th.

Game Stats:

-Attendance:  18,610

-Final Score:  Montreal – 30

Calgary – 23

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