Saturday, July 18, 2009

Montreal blasts Riders to remain unbeaten

The Montreal Alouettes are the only unbeaten team left in the Canadian Football League, after thumping the Saskatchewan Roughriders 43-10 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Saturday.

The early stages of the first quarter was a feeling out process for the two teams, with Montreal blocking a punt, then turning it back on a fumble two plays later. The Roughriders were unable to generate much of anything offensively and allowed a Damon Duval 40 yard field goal with 5:39 left in the quarter, to fall behind 3-0. Duval missed a long 61 yard field goal by inches a couple of minutes later, settling for the rouge(It is throwback week, after all) and a 4-0 lead with 2:32 to go in the first. Saskatchewan then quickly drove the ball into scoring position, aided by a pass interference call and a marvelous catch by Wes Cates at the Als 4. A pass interference call on 2nd down gave the Riders another crack at the end zone from the 2, but short-yardage quarterback Steven Jyles turned the ball over on a fumble at the 5, on the final play of the opening quarter.

Stevie Baggs made a big play to start the second, ripping the ball away from the Montreal runner, giving Saskatchewan the ball back at the Alouettes 4. Cates then took the pitch around left end to score untouched on the next play, with Luca Congi's convert putting the Riders up 7-4, just 57 seconds into the second quarter. Saskatchewan capitalized on a Stu Foord punt block, getting a single after Jamie Boreham's 44 yard punt rolled a yard into the end zone and out the side, giving the Riders an 8-4 lead with 9:57 remaining in the half. Quarterback Darian Durant fumbled the ball away at his own 20 on Saskatchewan's next possession and Montreal's quarterback Anthony Calvillo hit Kerry Carter for a 20 yard major score. Duval's convert with 6:20 left gave his team an 11-8 lead. The Als were back in business at the Riders 48, after Hugh Charles fumbled the ball away on the kickoff return. Montreal failed to move the ball however and Duval then pinned Saskatchewan back at their own 5 with a long punt. The Riders punted the ball back and with 2:10 to go, Duval gave the Als a 14-8 lead they would take into halftime, with a 30 yard field goal.

Saskatchewan, who won the toss and deferred to the second half, elected to kick off, which would give them the wind in the fourth quarter. Pinpoint passing by Calvillo moved the ball deep into Riders territory, before a fumble gave the ball back to the Green-and-White. Montreal held and got the ball back, capitalizing on a mysterious wave-off of a block in the back, with Cavillo tossing a 55 yard scoring strike to Kerry Watkins. Duval's convert made it 21-8 with 11:08 remaining in the third quarter. The lead moved to 22-8, as Weston Dressler conceded a single on the 69 yard kickoff. The Mosaic mood got gloomier five minutes later, as Avon Cobourne's 7 yard touchdown run capped a 7 play, 59 yard drive. Duval's convert and 85 yard kickoff single put the visitors up 30-8, with 5:44 left in the third.

Duval was the star of the fourth quarter, kicking a a 21 yard field goal 63 seconds in. After he conceded a safety touch with 10:19 remaining, he then added a 40 yard field goal with 8:22 left, to make it 36-10 Als, as the Mosaic Stadium crowd of 30,945 headed to the exits. Montreal got the ball back with 6:20 on the clock and nearly ran out the time, scoring on a Cobourne 5 yard plunge with 49 seconds left, capping an 11 play, 81 yard drive. Duval booted the convert and the Alouettes headed home with a resounding 43-10 win.

Anthony Calvillo led Montreal, with 24 of 34 passing for 281 yards and two touchdowns, to Kerry Watkins and Kerry Carter. Calvillo's two TD passes tied him with Roughriders great Ron Lancaster for second on the CFL's all-time list with 333. Damon Allen tops the list with 394. Avon Cobourne had a huge day rushing, with 25 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Damon Duval had the golden toe, with 4 field goals and 4 converts for 17 points. For Saskatchewan, Darian Durant was just 10 of 20 passing for 112 yards, no major scores and an interception. Steven Jyles saw some time under center in the closing minutes, completing 4 of 8 passes for 43 yards. Andy Fantuz, Weston Dressler and Wes Cates caught 4 passes each, and Cates scored the Riders only touchdown of the day with his 4 yard rushing major early in the second quarter. Jamie Boreham had a busy day, punting 8 times for a 39.1 yard average, while Tad Kornegay had 8 tackles and a forced fumble. "Our defense played lights out for a long time in the ballgame" said Riders Head Coach Ken Miller, "but we just didn't give them any help."

The Alouettes dominated statistically, with 412 yards total offense to Saskatchewan's 195. Turnovers and penalties hurt the Riders too, as they turned the ball over 6 times and were flagged 7 times for 68 yards. Montreal had 4 turnovers, and were penalized 6 times for 70 yards.

The Alouettes, now 3-0 on the season, host the Hamilton Tiger Cats next Thursday, a team they beat 27-17 in the preseason. Saskatchewan slips to 2-1 on the year, ahead of a matchup ahead of the struggling Edmonton Eskimos next Saturday. Edmonton, who enters next week's game at 1-2 following Thursday's 40-22 loss to BC in Vancouver, topped the Riders 45-12 in the preseason. You can hear the game with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri on beginning at 3:00p.m. EDT. Kickoff is set for 4:00p.m. EDT next Saturday.

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