While it may not have risen to the magnitude of their week one Canada Day Classic, it was another exciting clash between the two best teams in the CFL, with the the Montreal Alouettes knocking down a desperation end zone heave on the game's final play, to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 30-26 tonight at Molson Percival Stadium in Montreal.
Montreal scored quickly, going 89 yards in 2 plays, with Anthony Calvillo hitting S.J. Green for a 67 yard catch-and-run to the Rider 22, with Kerry Watkins catching a 22 yard scoring strike on the next play. Damon Duval converted, giving the Als a 7-0 lead just 78 seconds into the game. Montreal intercepted an ill-advised shovel pass deep in Saskatchewan territory, but came away with only 3 points, as Duval kicked an 11 yard field goal, putting the Alouettes up 10-0, with 9:47 remaining in the quarter. Saskatchewan cranked up the offense on their next possession, driving 75 yards in 5 plays, ending with a Darian Durant to Weston Dressler 20 yard touchdown pass. Luca Congi converted, drawing the Riders to within 3 at 10-7, with 6:44 still on the 1st quarter clock.
In the 2nd quarter, Montreal drove deep into Saskatchewan territory and appeared to turn the ball over on a fumble at the Rider 12, but a penalty gave the Als a second chance, which they converted into a Calvillo to Jamel Richardson 8 yard touchdown pass. Duval toed the point with 9:17 left in the half, putting Montreal up 17-7. The Alouettes would tack on another major score inside the final 2 minutes. Congi missed a 43 yard field goal wide right, and just like on Canada Day when Tim Maypray returned a missed field goal 125 yards for a touchdown, he took this one back 118 yards for six points. Duval converted with 1:56 left, pushing Montreal's lead to 24-7. Saskatchewan responded with a Congi field goal from 35 yards out with 10 seconds to go, and just like in the Canada Day Classic 54-51 O.T. win by the Roughriders, the teams would hit two-quarter time with the Als leading 24-10.
Montreal's lead grew to 27-10 with 5:35 to go in the third, as Duval bombed a 46 yard field goal. Congi responded with a35 yard field goal for Saskatchewan with 2:36 still to play in the 3rd, bringing the Roughriders back to within 11, at 27-16.
Saskatchewan would make it a 4 point game early in the final quarter, driving deep into Alouette territory, capping a 9 play, 77 yard drive with a 6 yard touchdown pass from Durant to Wes Cates, who was wide open along the left side of the endzone. Congi's convert with 12:22 to go in regulation time, brought the Riders to within 4, at 27-23. Montreal went 2-and-out on their next turn with the ball, but got a 52 yard punt single by Duval with 10:45 left in the 4th, inching the Als lead back up to 5, at 28-23.
Saskatchewan answered with Congi's 4th field goal of the night, 11th in the past two games, this one from 46 yards out, cutting the Montreal lead to 28-26, with 6:44 still on the scoreboard clock. On their next possession, Riders' quarterback Durant scrambled out of trouble and threw cross-field to Andy Fantuz, who nearly made a circus catch. However, and most unfortunately, the ball bounced off his hands, then his chest and into the hands of Chip Cox, giving the Als the ball at the Montreal 47 with 4:08 remaining. On first down, Calvillo threw incomplete under big pressure, ending up with an injured index finger on his throwing hand and leaving the game. Chris Leak threw incomplete on the next play and Saskatchewan would get the ball back with plenty of time to take the lead. However, a holding penalty while the ball was in the air, pushed the Riders from decent position, into the shadow of his own goal post. That would prove to be big as on second down, Durant was tackled in the endzone for a safety touch by J.P. Bekasiak with 2:42 remaining, with the Alouettes growing the lead to 30-26 and forcing Saskatchewan to score a touchdown to win the game. First though, the Riders had to hold Montreal to a 2-and-out, getting the ball back at their own 32 with 2:05 still to play. Saskatchewan would gain three first downs to move the ball to centrefield, with still 32 seconds to play. Durant threw incomplete twice, forcing the Riders into one final play to win, with just 4.9 seconds to go. Durant, with time, heaved the ball to the endzone for Fantuz, but Etienne Boulay knocked the ball away, giving Montreal the 30-26 win.
For the Alouettes, Anthony Calvillo was 17-of-25 passing for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns, Chris Leak was 1-of-2 for 4 yards. Jamel Richardson had 7 catches for 65 yards and 1 touchdown, Kerry Watkins caught 4 balls for 72 yards and a touchdown, Damon Duval kicked 2 field goals, 3 converts and a punt single, Tim Maypray ran a missed field goal back 118 yards for a touchdown and J.P. Bekasiak recorded a safety touch on a quarterback sack. For Saskatchewan, Darian Durant, sick all week with intestinal problems, was 35-of-62 passing for 445 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Weston Dressler caught 13 passess for 169 yards and 1 touchdown, Wes Cates had 8 catches for 59 yards and 1 touchdown, while rushing 5 times for 31 yards. Luca Congi kicked 4 field goals and 2 converts and has now kicked 11 field goals in the past two games. Montreal had 284 totals yards, 11 first downs, with just 1 of those coming in the second half. The allowed 3 sacks, did not turn the ball over, and were penalized 7 times for 92 yards. The Riders had 483 yards, 31 first downs, 18 of those in the second half. They allowed 3 sacks turned the ball over twice and were called for 4 penalties for 35 yards.
With the win, the Alouettes move to 5-1 and remain atop the CFL East. Saskatchewan slipped to 4-2 and depending on the outcome of Calgary's game at BC tomorrow night, will either be in second, or still tied for first in the CFL West.
Next up for the Riders, is a Thursday, August 12th matchup with the BC Lions at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. Kick off is set for 9:00pm EDT on 620 CKRM, TSN and the Rider Radio Network. Montreal next plays on Saturday, August 14th at Toronto. Kickoff is 7:30pm EDT.