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MONTREAL — Brandon Whitaker scored three touchdowns, two through the air and another on the ground, as the Montreal Alouettes downed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 41-30 on Friday night in Montreal.
On a humid night in Montreal, both the Als and Bombers were looking to register their first wins of the season, after both dropped their season openers in Week 1.
Both teams were looking to improve on several aspects of their game heading into Week 2.
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The Als were routed 38-10 by the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium on Canada Day, with the offence and defence looking unusually out of sync.
Winnipeg, meanwhile, lost the grudge match of the 99th Grey Cup, coming out on the wrong side of a 33-16 decision against the BC Lions.
Bombers QB Buck Pierce was injured in the loss, but did start under centre on Friday night.
But after he and the Winnipeg offence failed to generate any results on their opening drive, the Montreal offence went to work.
After a rare no-show in Calgary last week, Anthony Calvillo led the Alouettes all the way down to the Winnipeg one-yard line, equipped with a fresh set of downs.
However, a stingy Winnipeg defence kept the Alouettes of the endzone after several attempts. On second down, the Bombers were flagged for offsides, giving the Als another fresh set of downs.
Following another strong effort by the Bombers goal-line defence, the Als gambled on third down, with backup QB Adrian McPherson finding defensive tackle J.P. Bekasiak for his first touchdown.
On Winnipeg’s ensuing possession, a gutsy rush by Pierce proved costly for the Bombers, as the pivot fumbled the ball, only to be recovered by Montreal linebacker Rod Davis.
But on the Als’ first play following the turnover, Jovon Johnson forced receiver Brian Bratton to fumble, with the ball eventually being recovered by Jonathan Hefney.
The Bombers were unable to capitalize off the turnover.
Montreal’s offence continued to roll in the first quarter, with Calvillo hooking up with receiver SJ Green for a 39-yard gain. Two plays later, Calvillo completed a short toss to tailback Brandon Whitaker, who ran it in 21 yards for a touchdown, extending Montreal’s lead to 14.
With the second quarter barely under way, the Bombers offence finally got their feet moving.
After Pierce completed consecutive passes of 11 and 12 yards to Chris Matthews and Terrence Edwards, rookie running back Bloi-Dei Dorzon took off for a big 28-yard gain up the middle, bringing the drive inside the Montreal 20-yard line.
However, the drive would eventually stall, with Pierce unable to complete a pairof passes to Clarence Denmark.
Kicker Justin Palardy would cap off the drive with a 23-yard field goal, cutting Montreal’s lead to 11.
The second half got underway with the both Whitaker and Calvillo continuing their strong play offensively, as the two hooked up for a big 27-yard gain.
One play later, with Whitaker on the sideline, Calvillo dumped it off to rookie Patrick Lavoie, who charged 20 yards towards the endzone, restoring Montreal’s 11-point lead.
Lavoie was Montreal’s first pick in the 2012 CFL Canadian Draft, taken 11th overall.
On Winnipeg’s ensuing drive, two costly pass interference penalties by the Alouettes would bring the drive to the Montreal five-yard line.
But they were unable to take advantage of the excellent field position, with Palardy being forced to connect on a 10-yard field goal.
After the Bombers defence came through with a clutch stop late in the third quarter, Alouettes punter Sean Whyte sent a punt 43-yard punt downfield that was fielded by Demond Washington.
The 24-year old Washington State grad returned it 83 yards for a touchdown, bringing the Bombers within one-point with less than five minutes remaining in the third frame.
However, the Als extended their lead on their ensuing drive, with Whyte connecting on a 41-yard field goal.
Whitaker would add onto his already massive performance, with a xx-yard touchdown catch midway through the fourth quarter – his second of the game.
He would eventually tack on a third touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Last season’s rushing king would finish the night with 92 rushing yards, 137 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Calvillo, meanwhile would surprass the 400-yard passing mark for the 29th time in his career, throwing three touchdowns in the process. He would also complete 81 per cent of his passes.