It was obvious that the Montreal Alouettes simply had enough of being bullied. It was time for them to be the bully and take out their frustrations on someone else.
The unfortunate victims in this case were the equally woeful Saskatchewan Roughriders, who were completely pasted 41-3 by the Alouettes this past Friday at Percival Molson Stadium.
The Riders were feeling good after handing the Ottawa Redblacks their first loss of the regular season the week previous. Saskatchewan was planning on taking that momentum into La Belle Province and getting their season back on track. Instead, they ran into a freight train called the Montreal Alouettes offense. No, that’s not a misprint.
This past Friday showed just how valuable having an experienced quarterback in the lineup truly is. Kevin Glenn took control and owned the Riders, marching the Als down the field on his first series and finding B.J. Cunningham in the end zone. That was the first of FIVE touchdowns for Montreal, who struggled to find the end zone the last time they played in front of their hometown faithful.
Also getting in on the scoring action was Samuel Giguere and Brandon Bridge, who each scored goal line TDs after Glenn sliced his way through a banged up Saskatchewan defense, who had no answer for their former QB. But the highlight of the night belonged to tailback Brandon Rutley, who has shown just how versatile he is in moving the chains.
There’s no doubting his ground game but early in the third quarter, Rutley took a screen pass from Glenn that had broken play written all over it and took it 38 yards to the house. It was a masterful display of juking and jiving from the former San Jose State Spartan, who has done a solid job filling in for the injured Tyrell Sutton thus far this season.
Even Rakeem Cato managed to toss a touchdown pass in mop-up duty, connecting with Duron Carter late in the fourth quarter, adding insult to injury for a decimated Riders team that simply had no response to Montreal on this beautiful summer’s eve.
So how did a team that bested the league’s last undefeated team only manage to put three points on the board? Simple. Montreal’s defense not only came to play, but took full advantage of an inexperienced Saskatchewan O-Line. The Riders turned the ball over three times and simply had no answer for Montreal’s secondary, who played a terrific game after taking time to work out their kinks from the past few games.
Jonothan Mincy has been such a pleasant surprise this season, replacing the departed Dominique Ellis. He had a great game with four defensive tackles and a great knockdown. He also stayed toe-to-toe with Riders receiver Naaman Roosevelt, who was only able to muster 67 yards on 7 completions.
Jovon Johnson is having himself a very strong 2016 campaign as well and nearly had himself several INTs this past Friday. His leading by example and playmaking ability have not gone unnoticed by this Alouettes team.
But the star on D last Friday was Billy Parker, who was absolutely on fire with a pick on Riders QB Mitchell Gale that was returned 65 yards deep in Saskatchewan territory and led to the Cato TD pass to Carter. Veterans like Parker need to lead the charge and they certainly did, much to the delight of the Alouettes fans that didn’t leave early for a change.
Speaking with Alouettes DC Noel Thorpe after the game, he was clearly pleased with the efforts of his crew. To nearly shut out a team completely takes a lot of work and his guys were simply not going to be making any excuses for the short week. The defense came to play and they were their usual dominant selves.
This was a complete win on every side of the football field. And while a 2-3 record is nothing to crow about, this win makes this gruelling 3 game stretch a little easier to handle. Now the Alouettes get a chance to catch their breath a bit and prepare for the B.C. Lions making their lone visit to Percival Molson Stadium this coming Thursday.
What made this victory even sweeter was that the team had extra motivation to win as they did not want to have their play overshadow the events of halftime. In a ceremony befitting a legend, the Montreal Alouettes properly immortalized another one of their legends and retired the #86 of Ben Cahoon.
With speeches by ex-Alouettes and former Cahoon teammates Brian Bratton, Scott Flory and Bruno Heppell as well as video tributes by Jim Popp, Anthony Calvillo and former Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman, the love and respect for this man was made very loud and clear in front of an emotionally charged crowd.
As is often the case with Ben, he seemed almost embarrassed by the constant admiration and outpouring of accolades. Very humble as always, Cahoon was gracious in his speech and thanked the crowd in both English and French for their years of unbridled support.
And in true Ben Cahoon fashion, he stayed long after the final whistle blew to greet fans postgame, signing autographs and posing for pictures. This will likely be the last number retired by this organization for a long time, if ever. Many will argue that this move should have been made years ago. But better late than never as now this number will never be worn by another player ever again.
There is a poetry to looking up at the ring of honour at Percival Molson Stadium and knowing that you will always see the names and numbers of arguably the greatest quarterback/receiver combo this league has ever seen, side by side:
AC/BC, forever legends.
It’s been a while since Montreal has looked as dominant as they did against Saskatchewan. Hopefully this will stick in the players’ minds as they prepare for the Lions and hope to start August off on a winning note.
If nothing else, Alouettes Nation got to see a hometown win and thank a legend live and in person for all of his hard work. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most.