The ALSternative

Thankfully, ugly wins count just as much in the standings.

In what could be generously described as a defensive battle, the Montreal Alouettes walked into TD Place and handed the Ottawa RedBlacks their ninth straight loss by a score of 15-7. If last Sunday’s game versus Calgary was the best effort from Jonathan Crompton as starting QB for the Alouettes, this past Friday’s was easily the opposite.

Credit to the RedBlacks defense for being able to make Crompton look very ordinary, forcing him to throw two interceptions and only complete 48% of his passes. He did have one heck of a scramble to get the Alouettes into the red zone, gaining 24 yards on his sole carry.

But there were no TD passes to be had from the Asheville, NC native. Rather it was the steady foot of Sean Whyte who marked the most points for this fifth Alouettes victory of 2014. Nailing a pair of field goals and a pair of singles for 8 of Montreal’s 15 points, Whyte made it right!

The Alouettes’ lone TD came as a result of the monstrous defense giving Henry Burris plenty of fits. After the ball was knocked loose from Burris’ grip by Bear Woods, Aaron Lavarias scooped it and headed to the promised land. Fearing he wasn’t going to make it all the way himself, he lateralled the ball to the ever-speedy Chip Cox who scored his second defensive touchdown of the season.

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So the Alouettes scored enough points to win, but Ottawa certainly made a game of it. Henry Burris showed why he is a true leader by calmly marching the RedBlacks down the field as time ticked away late in the fourth quarter. Down by 8 with 2 seconds to go and on the 7 yard line, Ottawa needed a touchdown with a two point convert to send this game into overtime.

But miscommunication led to a premature snap and subsequent penalty to snuff out the hopes of the fans who once again sold out Ottawa’s football home. Montreal’s D stood tall and forced plenty of 2 and out throughout the game, but the RedBlacks played like their lives depended on it. I can feel the frustration that Ottawa fans are having, with the excitement of having a football team of their own once again but not yet having any real success to go along with it.

All I can say to them is that winning doesn’t happen overnight. There is some good talent on this Ottawa team and their front office will improve the roster as time rolls on. Just keep supporting your team and keep selling out that beautifully refurbished stadium, your team will return the favour soon enough.

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For those of you who haven’t been to TD Place yet, be ready for a treat! After years of legal battles and red tape just to get the shovels into the ground, the city of Ottawa and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group have rewarded the patience of football fans with a stadium that any CFL team would be proud to call home.

While it’s still not 100% complete yet, TD Place has been given a major facelift in order to house the fans of the RedBlacks and become THE place to be in Ottawa during football season. It looks about a million times better than it did back in 2005, when it was a dank pit of despair known as Frank Clair Stadium.

No more crumbling stands, burned-out scoreboard lights, inadequate concessions and flooded washrooms! Finally, the city of Ottawa now has a world-class sports facility!

It’s certainly not perfect though. There’s only one video board and getting it updated with the correct score was not a very pressing matter. Former Alouette Mike Sutherland was the original PA announcer for TD Place due to his ability to properly relate to fans the on-field announcements in both French and English. But whomever has replaced him kept screwing up simple things like number of downs and other vital points of information.

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But the biggest problem at TD Place was the inability to properly channel the fans’ enthusiasm, particularly when the RedBlacks were on offense. Instead of using the video board and LCD ribbons to ask the fans to be quiet so that the offense could hear their quarterback, whomever was working those tools were encouraging fans to get up and be loud!

While I won’t come out and say that crowd noise was the reason the final play of the game went awry for Ottawa, it certainly didn’t help the cause. Chalk it up to a rookie mistake on both the fans and team officials. Hopefully as this team grows and evolves, so will the education of this fanbase.

There’s a lot of love for the CFL in the nation’s capital and this ownership group has given the supporters of RNation a very precious gift in TD Place. Even if you’re not a fan of the RedBlacks, I encourage you all to take in a football game there if given the chance.

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With the win, the Alouettes go into their second bye week tied for first with Hamilton, both teams with 5 wins. These divisional games are the matches that need to be won and Montreal has turned this season around at the best possible time.

Now the players are off to relax and recharge the batteries in order to be ready for October 13th, where they will host the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home. It’ll be an electric atmosphere at Percival Molson Stadium on that day as the Alouettes have announced that they will be retiring the #13 that Anthony Calvillo wore during his illustrious career.

How fitting that the man who lead the Alouettes to back-to-back Grey Cups versus Saskatchewan will be honoured on the 13th day of October at a game that starts at 13h00 versus the team that prides itself on it’s 13th man. The Thanksgiving Day games are always fun and this will be no exception.

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That’s all for now. I’m hoping to have another special version of The ALSternative online during the bye week to tide you over while the Montreal Alouettes enjoy their break. Be sure to follow along on Twitter for more news and thoughts.

GO ALS GO!!!