Friday, August 21, 2009

4th quarter comeback falls short for Riders at Montreal









The Saskatchewan Roughriders battled hard all night long, but once again it was a poor offensive third quarter that hurt the most, as the Montreal Alouettes were able to hold their precarious halftime lead, on the way to a 34-25 win Friday in front of 20,202 fans, the 90th straight sellout in tiny Percival Molson Stadium in Montreal, Quebec.

The teams traded quick possessions to start the game. The Riders went 2-and-out, while Montreal, after one first down, got a 51-yard punt single from Damon Duval to take a 1-0 lead 3:56 into the contest. Saskatchewan went 2-and-out on their second possession and punted to the Als' Larry Taylor, who ran it back 73 yards for the major score, his second punt return for touchdown this season. Duval converted and with 8:56 to go in the first, Montreal had an 8-0 lead. The Riders responded on their next possession and moved quickly into scoring possession. Darian Durant hit Weston Dressler twice, the first for 52 yards. Dressler was interferred with in the endzone later in the drive, giving Saskatchewan 1st-and-goal at the 1. Two dives over the middle by Hugh Charles were stopped cold and on 3rd-and-goal, Wes Cates was stopped for a 2-yard loss, leaving the Alouettes with an 8-0 lead and 5:00 left on the 1st quarter clock. The Riders did get on the board moments later however, as Duval conceded a safety touch with 4:07 left in the first, making it 8-2, after Saskatchewan had held Montreal to a 2-and-out at their own 3.

Montreal took a 9-2 lead, as they opened 2nd quarter scoring, with Duval hitting a 61-yard punt single 2:06 in. The Riders tied the game on their next possession, moving quickly into Als territory once again, this time reaching the endzone on a 75-yard drive in 4 plays, ending with a 26-yard scoring strike from Durant to Rob Bagg. Congi's convert with 4:12 gone tied the game 9-9, then Jamie Boreham blasted a 94-yard kickoff single to put Saskatchewan on top 10-9. Duval booted an 18-yard field goal to get Montreal back on top 12-10, with 5:18 left in the half. The frenetic pace continued, as both teams scored once more each. Durant hit Gerran Walker with a 43-yard touchdown pass and Congi converted with 2:34 left, putting the Riders back on top 17-12. The Alouettes answered, with 34 seconds to go. Ben Cahoon caught a 9-yard pass from Anthony Calvillo and Duval converted, giving Montreal an 19-17 halftime lead.

After a Saskatchewan turnover, the Als had to move just 33 yards for a major score. Chris Leak hit Kerry Watkins with a 2-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal, to open 2nd half scoring with what turned out to be the only points of the 3rd quarter. Duval converted with 5:07 left, putting the lead back to 9, at 26-17.

Montreal's 4th takeaway of the night, an interception by Chip Cox that he returned to the Rider 22, led to the first points of the 4th quarter. Avon Cobourne caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Calvillo and Duval converted, giving the Als a 33-17 lead, with 6:01 left in regulation. Saskatchewan came right back, with a 4-yard touchdown run by Charles. Durant escaped a sack and hit Chris Getzlaf for the 2-point conversion with 4:07 to go, cutting the deficit to 33-25. The Riders had another crack on offense, but a Durant scramble to the Alouettes' 53 on 3rd down was short of the yard to gain, giving the ball back to the Montreal. The Als went 2-and-out, but Duval's 50-yard punt ended up in the endzone after the returner failed to catch the ball, giving them one more point and the 34-25 win.

Montreal was led, as usual, by quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who was 19 of 28 passing for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Chris Leak got on the field for one pass, which he completed for a 2-yard touchdown. Ben Cahoon, Kerry Watkins and Avon Cobourne caught touchdown passes, while Damon Duval had a field goal, 4 converts and 3 singles. Cobourne rushed 19 times for 101 yards. For Saskatchewan, Darian Durant was 19 of 31 passing for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns, but also suffered 3 costly turnovers. Rob Bagg and Gerran Walker caught touchdown passes, while Weston Dressler caught 8 passes for 179 yards. Hugh Charles scored a rushing touchdown, Luca Congi had a pair of converts and Jamie Boreham a kickoff single. The Riders had 400 yards total offense, while the Als had 265. Turnovers were critical, with Saskatchewan turning the ball over 5 times, while not taking the ball from Montreal once.

With the loss, the Riders slip to 4-4 for 8 points, still tied with the idle Edmonton Eskimos for first in the CFL West. The Alouettes improve to 7-1 for 14 points, moving 6 points ahead of second-place Hamilton.

Saskatchewan, who have week #9 off, returns to action on Sunday, September 6th, with a 4:00p.m. EDT home game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Montreal, also off on week #9, play again on Friday, September 4th in Vancouver against the BC Lions.

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