This was not really a game. Not a real game anyways. Kind of reminded me of a preseason game. At least for the home team. Having wrapped up second place in the East and not able to move up, the Montreal Alouettes find themselves playing for nothing over the last three games of the season. This tilt against the East’s first place team, the Hamilton Tiger Cats, was Montreal’s last regular season home game, but was just a situation of Montreal resting several regulars while allowing others to play just part of the game.
With their recent seasons being rather awful, fans did not have very much hope for this season with the lack of ownership and having the coach leave the team right before the season. Yet surprising many Montreal has had a decent season. They are a competitive team with a strong defence, a maturing young quarterback and plenty of heart. All this under the guidance of interim head coach, Khari Jones.
They find themselves in second place in the East with a modest 9-8 record, but the season has to be seen as a success no matter what happens in the playoffs. The fact that they were able to make the playoffs is a big step forward for the once proud organization which has fallen on hard times of late.
The Als’ opposition on this sunny fall afternoon was the first place Hamilton Tiger Cats and their impressive 13-3 record. They too had cemented their place in the East and bye in the first round of the playoffs, but seemed more interested in playing the regulars. Their quality versus the Als’ backups became very apparent in the 2nd half.
Much of the offense’s success has to be attributed to the play of quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. He also has made a big step forward and established himself as a number one QB in the CFL. Though he did start the game, you had to expect he would not finish it. This was a situation of keeping the regulars playing fresh, but not risking they get injured so close to playoffs in a game that meant nothing to the team.
Adams Jr. stayed in the game for just a bit more than a quarter and looked sharp during his time on the field. Just one boo boo throwing an interception in the first quarter, but that was his only mistake. In his short time he helped his team to a 14-6 lead. Impressive offensive output in a short time. Especially when you consider that he was missing a few important offensive elements like running back William Stanback and receiver DeVier Posey.
From that point on it was Matthew Shiltz’s game. The difference in quality between the starting QB and the back up was quite apparent. Shiltz does not have the arm nor speed that Adams Jr. has. Though in the early moments of his relief effort he was able to connect with veteran wide receiver Chris Matthews for a touchdown giving the home side a 21-14 advantage in the 2nd quarter.
While the Tiger Cats kept in their starting quarterback Dane Evans stayed in the game until the last minute. Most of their starters stayed in the game for its entirety. Including speedy receiver Brandon Banks, who established a new team record for number of receptions in a season. The previous record was 104 by Luke Tasker and by the end of the game Banks had 112. Plus he established a personal career record with 13 TD receptions. Combined with his 1,550 yards it adds up to him being in the MVP discussion.
With Montreal’s starters, especially on offense, on the bench Hamilton took over the game in the 2nd half. It was a tale of two halves this game with Montreal being stronger in the 1st and Hamilton dominating the 2nd.
In the end the best team in the CFL came out with the win, but there were some bright spots for the Alouettes. First was the play of running back Jeremiah Johnson. He gained 105 yards with an impressive 6.6 yard per carry average. The veteran showed that he is capable of taking over in the instance of an injury to number one Stanback and gives the team a solid 1-2 punch when they are both healthy. Second, receiver Eugene Lewis with his 100 receiving yards broke the 1,000 yard plateau for the season. He has been a beast all season long making plenty of contested catches and also has repeatedly shown his leaping abilities. Finally, rookie receiver Jake Wineke played another solid game earning 71 yards and another touchdown. He has earned 555 yards this season with 7 touchdowns. Plus he showed he can also throw the ball. Early in the game on a trick play he hooked up with Quan Bray for a 27 yard gain.
Next up for Montreal is their final regular season game. It is on the road Friday night in Ottawa against the last place RedBlacks. Expect to see a lot of back ups in the Als’ line up again.
-Passing: Montreal – Matt Shiltz: 12/21, 57.1% completion, 142 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception
Vernon Adams Jr.: 11/14, 78.6% completion, 142 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception
Hamilton – Dane Evans: 29/36, 80.6% completion, 379 yards, 4 TDs, 1 interception
Rushing: Montreal – Jeremiah Johnson: 16 carries, 105 yards, 6.6 yard average
Chris Amoah: 2 carries, 3 yards, 1.5 yard average
Hamilton: Maleek Irons: 10 carries, 43 yards, 4.3 yard average
Tyrell Sutton: 3 carries, 5 yards, 1.7 yard average
Receiving: Montreal – Eugene Lewis: 7 receptions, 100 yards, 14.3 average
Jake Wineke: 6 receptions, 71 yards, 11.8 average, 1 TD
Quan Bray: 4 receptions, 60 yards, 15.0 average, 1 TD
Chris Matthews: 4 receptions, 55 yards, 13.8 average, 1 TD
Hamilton – Brandon Banks: 11 receptions, 201 yards, 18.3 average, 3 TDs
Bralon Addison: 5 receptions, 53 yards, 10.6 average
Jaelon Acklin: 3 receptions, 45 yards, 15.0 average
Mike Jones: 2 receptions, 28 yards, 14.0 average
Final Score: Montreal – 26
Hamilton – 38