Alouettes grind away, hand Calgary their first loss of 2017

One fanbase breathes a sigh of relief, while the rest of the football world sits with jaws dropped wondering what the heck happened.

The Montreal Alouettes did what very few predicted they would do and defeated the Calgary Stampeders 30-23 in front of a reduced but boisterous Percival Molson Stadium. The skies opened up earlier in the day and let up just in time for the game to get under way.

When the game started, it was more of the same that we’ve seen over the past two weeks from the Birds of Prey; some nice plays that got everyone excited, but failure to score anything more than field goals. The one saving grace for Montreal in the first half was that Calgary wasn’t able to generate much offense either. Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell has struggled in the past when playing in Montreal and yesterday’s first half was no exception.

It wasn’t until the second quarter where Darian Durant and the Alouettes’ attack finally started to click. After throwing a pair of interceptions earlier, Durant established a rhythm and was able to move the ball downfield.  Once again, fullback J-C Beaulieu proved his worth with a tremendous 27 yard rush that set up the game’s first touchdown. B.J. Cunningham notched the first TD of the evening for Montreal and somehow, the Alouettes knew they weren’t going to be denied on this rain-soaked night.

Calgary tried to respond on the very next drive, but got hit with a bulldozer. Or rather, a Branden Dozier! Stamps RB Jerome Messam tried to rumble upfield but had the ball knocked out of his hands by Als safety Chris Ackie. After it took a couple of bounces, the rookie Dozier was able to scoop up the fumbled ball and scored his first CFL touchdown. What ensued was a flurry of flags as Messam didn’t appreciate being schooled by his former team. As he tried to stop Dozier from scoring, he managed to get his hands into Chip Cox‘s face mask and attempted to rip it off his helmet.

The result of that melee was the ejection of Messam from the match, taking away one of Calgary’s most potent weapons on offense. The damage was done though, as Montreal had the Stampeders reeling and the half could not end fast enough for the defending Western division champs.

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The second half of football games has been where the Alouettes have faltered and began to unravel in 2017. It certainly looked like that trend was going to continue as the Stamps’ first drive of the second half resulted in a touchdown pass from Mitchell to DaVaris Daniels. With the score equal at 16, both teams slogged through the third quarter with some middling play. Calgary would end up taking the lead into the fourth quarter with both their kickers notching points.

But Montreal simply would not be denied. After hearing about the doubts in play-calling plus questions about his decisions, Darian Durant rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He engineered a great drive downfield to start the fourth quarter, which led to Tyrell Sutton‘s 14 yard touchdown run. It was another solid night for the league leader in rushing, who turned in another performance of 100+ all-purpose yards. He doubled his carries and made it clear that as long as you give him the ball, it will not be wasted.

Calgary responded to Sutton’s TD with a field goal to tie the game at 23, but again, the Alouettes would not be denied. Once again, Durant put his team on his back and marched them back downfield, with some outstanding plays by Ernest Jackson and Nik Lewis to move the chains. The end result was a QB sneak into the end zone by Vernon Adams for what would be the winning score.

Bo Levi tried to mount the comeback for the Stamps but the stifling Montreal defense, the raucous noise from the Alouettes’ faithful and a massive deluge of rain were simply too much for the league’s MOP to overcome. His streak of 19 regular season victories came to an end in La Belle Province, where Mitchell has not won since taking over as the starting quarterback.

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This is the first time in 2017 where the Alouettes scored more than 20. They needed every single point scored, as their discipline was still very much lacking. Even though Calgary had the more egregious penalty, Montreal still gave up 130 yards’ worth of penalties. If there’s a saving grace, none of them were particularly soul-crushing as they were in the previous two games.

Montreal is now 2-2 versus Western opponents and once again share first place in the East with Toronto. They have a short week ahead as they prepare to play the still win-less Ottawa RedBlacks next Wednesday in the nation’s capital. Ottawa hasn’t exactly rolled over and died in their games this season. But they will be playing desperate and with Montreal’s adverse reactions, they will need to stay focused and not be drawn into stupidity.

It’s a dubious distinction, but Ottawa just may be the best team in the CFL that still hasn’t notched a victory yet. The Alouettes got some serious momentum with this victory over Calgary and it will hopefully carry over for this short road trip next week.

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This win silenced a lot of critics for the time being. If Montreal can start a winning streak at the hands of both of last year’s Grey Cup participants, it can only lead to good things.

Enjoy the win, Alouettes Nation. Perhaps the stories on the Montreal Alouettes’ demise were greatly exaggerated after all.

GO ALS GO!!!

 

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