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Montreal offence gets rolling as they hold off Riders

CFL.ca Staff

REGINA – Bo Bowling caught his first career touchdown and Anthony Calvillo rushed for a pair of majors for the first time in his career as the Montreal Alouettes defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 34-28 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

Calvillo finished 16 of 28 for 262 yards passing and 1 touchdown to go alongside the two rushing scores.  Jamel Richardson lead the way for all receivers with 8 catches for 161 yards – his second 100-plus yard game in a row.

Related: Als at Riders

» Images: MTL at SSK
» View Game Stats
» Video: Bowling Lays Out For First TD
» Video: Dressler’s 66-Yard Punt Ret TD
» Video: Calvillo Runs For Second TD
» View Updated Standings
» Preview: Montreal at Saskatchewan

The Roughriders entered the game looking to solidify a playoff spot after a lopsided loss to the Edmonton Eskimos a week ago.  Coming into Week 17, they sat just two points behind second place Calgary and two points up on Edmonton who held the crossover playoff spot in the East despite a loss to BC the night before.

The playoff situation was not nearly as complicated for the Alouettes who clinched first place in the East with Toronto’s loss to Winnipeg Friday.  With the division wrapped up the Als main focus was not only to shore up some consistency in their play overall but remain healthy heading into the post-season.

The Riders offence came out sharp on their first drive jumping out to an early 7-0 lead with QB Drew Willy finding FB Graeme Bell in a goal line formation for a 1-yard touchdown.  The Riders’ opening possession ate up over six minutes on the game clock and the reception was not only the University of Saskatchewan’s first major of the year but also his first catch of the season.

After the Riders tried to get a stranglehold on time of possession, the Als engineered their own drive, lasting over 8 minutes and resulting in a 22-yard Sean Whyte field goal at the beginning of the second quarter to cut the lead to 7-3.

Impressive was Montreal’s ability to move the ball despite facing a stiff wind for the majority of the drive until they flipped the field at the start of the second quarter.  The first quarter featured just three total possessions combined by the two clubs.

They would force the Riders into a two-and-out before taking over on their own 39 yard line and put together a quick scoring drive.  First, Calvillo found his go-to receiver Richardson for a 52-yard catch down the seam and finished off the series by scrambling after being flushed from the pocket to find sophomore receiver Bo Bowling for a diving 18-yard touchdown.

Bowling became one of many unlikely Montreal receivers on the day given the injury woes that have plagued the Als’ receiving corps.  

Already without SJ Green, the Alouettes learned earlier in the week that they would be without Brandon London for the rest of the season – compounding problems for an offence that was without running backs Brandon Whitaker (out for the year) and Victor Anderson who also went down against Toronto last week.  As a result, 220-pound tailback Chris Jennings started in the Als backfield.

Quarterback Darian Durant and the Riders put together their strongest drive since their opening touchdown and set up a 37-yard Sandro DeAngelis field goal but the unforgiving wind pushed the ball wide right, the Als returned it out of the endzone and the Riders came away with no points.

The Riders defence would step up and force the Als to punt and Weston Dressler rewarded his defenders for their efforts.  The Riders touchdown leader fielded the punt in his own territory, split a pair of potential tacklers and turned up field 66 yards for a touchdown and a 14-13 lead.

Following the touchdown, the Als would lose a key part of their defence, Shea Emry, who was ejected from the game for punching Riders offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte prior to lining up for the convert.

Down by a point, the Als would reclaim the lead with 7:41 left in the third quarter when two Riders penalties, including a pass interference call, set up the Als inside the Saskatchewan five yard line.  Two plays later, short yardage quarterback Adrian McPherson would run in a 1-yard touchdown on a misdirection play to give Montreal a 20-14 advantage.

Saskatchewan, who elected to take the wind in the fourth quarter, was fighting the prairie breeze all third quarter and another short punt from DeAngelis had the Als scrimmaging from the opposing 45 yard line. Calvillo found Jennings in the flat for a huge gain and then took off himself for a 14 yard touchdown to open up their biggest lead of the game at 27-14.

Calvillo, who had been lukewarm in recent  outings, continued to heat up as the fourth quarter arrived – eating up clock and picking apart the Riders defence.

Man on the run

For a quarterback who has accomplished almost everything there is to accomplish in the CFL, Saturday marked the first time in Calvillo’s illustrious career that he ran for two touchdowns in one game.

Even more impressive was the pocket-passers mobility as he broke free for his second rushing touchdown of the game, a 22-yarder to opened up a lead early in the final frame with a 34-14 advantage.

For a quarterback who has accomplished almost everything there is to accomplish in the CFL, Saturday marked the first time in Calvillo’s illustrious career that he ran for two touchdowns in one game.

The Riders would try and get back in the game on the ensuing drive when Durant led 10-play a drive finished off with a 9-yard pass to Dressler for his second major of the game.

And Saskatchewan refused to quit as Durant led a 9-play drive this time, resulting in a 1-yard Kory Sheets touchdown plunge to pull within 6 with just under three minutes left.

They would force another Whyte punt and take over with 2:04 on the clock and a chance to take the lead but after executing a few first downs, it was all for not as the Alouettes defence held strong and forced a turnover on downs with 1:41 remaining.

One more chance was handed to the Riders with 1:17 left, they took over after fielding a punt and moved the ball up to the Montreal 21 yard line but the Als forced a sack on a three-man rush and sealed the 34-28 win.