It will not be an all Alberta final afterall with the hometown Montreal Alouettes delighting over 38,000 of their fans with a 36-26 win over the Edmonton Eskimos. This makes the'rebuilding' Alouettes under rookie coach Marc Trestman the Eastern Division Champions for 2008. For the first time in 6 years our Alouettes are Eastern champs! Let the lead up to the Grey Cup begin!
There was plenty of worrying in Montreal leading up to this game by the media and fans alike about whether sitting out Anthony Calvillo in the last game of the regular season (meaning he would not play for 3 weeks) was the wise choice. At the beginning of the game those naysayers would have been chanting "I told you so" over and over. Calvillo's timing was definitely off to start the game and Edmonton was leading 10-3 after a Damon Duval punt was blocked Justin Cooper and he recovered it in the endzone.
Not to be outdone by Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray, Anthony Calvillo got his game in order and after several completions he tossed a touchdown pass to standout wideout Jamel Richardson. From this point on Calvillo was the excellent quarterback he was during the regular season. Alternating between long bombs, short passes and running plays by Avon Coburn, Calvillo took control of the game. After the first Taylor runback of 64 yards the Als led 19-13 at halftime.
While many Alouettes played well, the real hero of the game for Montreal was rookie kick returner Larry Taylor. Twice he returned punts all the way for major scores. While giving his team great field position or two touchdowns, Taylor was establishing a CFL record with 203 yards of punt returns.
In the second half the Alouettes pulled away with a short touchdown plunge by Coburne and another punt return (97 yards this time) by Taylor. Ricky Ray and the Eskimos could not keep pace partially due to the fact that they could mount no running game. This allowed the Montreal defensive line to pin back their ears and go full out at Edmonton's quarterback. If he wasn't being sacked Ray found he was being rushed or flushed from the pocket often during the last three quarters. The Montreal defence did not allow a major against until late in the fourth quarter. It was quite an achievement for a unit that did not play very well during the stretch run towards the playoffs. No one would be questioning them now.
Edmonton made it tight collar time with a punt return touchdown of their own with less than one minute left and then retained possession after a successful short kick. But the Al much maligned lately defence held up under the pressure and stopped Edmonton to send the fans home ecstatic.
Now Montreal will be playing for the Grey Cup next Sunday right here in Montreal against either the B.C. Lions or the Calgary Stampeders.