Defence, late Rodgers TD pace Als over REDBLACKS

Peter McCabe/CFL

CFL.ca Staff
#LDWeekend

MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes played shutdown defence all night, while Jonathan Crompton provided the spark necessary to lead them to a 20-10 victory over the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Friday night in Montreal.

S.J. Green had a first-quarter receiving touchdown and James Rodgers scored in his CFL debut, as the Alouettes broke a six-game losing streak and moved into second place in the CFL East Division.

Crompton earned a win in his first career CFL start, going 15-25 for 245 yards with one interception, while second-year receiver Duron Carter had a game-high 127 yards on five catches to pace an efficient Montreal offence. Brandon Whitaker meanwhile was the workhorse on the offence, finishing with 99 yards on 17 carries.

The REDBLACKS, while getting a late surge on offence, again struggled to find consistency on that side of the ball, as they were held to just three points through the first three quarters until finally finding the end zone late in the fourth.

A week after failing to score a single offensive point against the Stampeders, the REDBLACKS looked to get on track early with a couple of early first downs, including one downfield to Matt Carter along with an ensuing personal foul penalty. The drive stalled following a sack, but Brett Maher struck on the short field goal attempt to give Ottawa a 3-0 lead in the game’s opening minutes.

The teams exchanged punts, before late in the first quarter the Alouettes mounted their response, starting with a pass interference penalty and then a facemask on second down. Some misdirection allowed Whitaker to escape through a gaping hole for a 22-yard gain, setting the offence up at the five.

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The Alouettes have struggled to score in the red zone this season and on this occasion didn’t start out well, but after being given a fresh set of downs thanks to an Ottawa penalty, short-yardage quarterback Tanner Marsh connected in the end zone with Green to finally give the Alouettes the major.

The one-yard pass was just the eighth of the season for the offence and the third of the year for Green, putting the Als ahead 7-3 on their second possession of the evening.

Defences continued to set the tone well into the second quarter, but the Alouettes appeared to have the edge. They moved into scoring range on a second down completion by Crompton followed by another nice pickup off play-action, before Tyrell Sutton continued the drive with some shifty running outside of the tackles.

But a promising drive ended suddenly, when Crompton went for the home run down the sideline to Whitaker only to be picked off by rookie linebacker Travis Brown.

The Als threatened again inside the three-minute warning, when on second down Carter climbed the ladder to haul in a high pass from Crompton. A 15-yard roughing the passer penalty was tacked on after, before Whitaker on first down burst through a seam to move the Als all the way down to the five.

The red zone deficiencies continued for Montreal however. On second-and-goal from the two with Marsh under centre, Whitaker took the handoff and tried to go over the pile – only to lose control of the ball on his way up.

Jerrell Gavins recovered in the end zone for the REDBLACKS, who again were able to avoid points and keep a close deficit after giving up some ground on defence. That finished off a second quarter with only a single point scored on a Sean Whyte punt single, as the Alouettes took an 8-3 lead to the half.

Crompton, Carter establish chemistry

Duron Carter has been dominant since returning from injury, and that continued on Friday night as he was Jonathan Crompton’s number one target all night.

» Carter by the Numbers

The Montreal defence carried its dominance into the third quarter, starting with a pair of two-and-outs before adding a field goal on offence from Whyte to extend the lead to 12-3. Things turned worse for a struggling REDBLACKS offence, when Burris was sacked by Gabriel Knapton, leading to a fumble. Jermaine McElveen recovered for the Als, but another punt single was all they’d add before the end of the third.

Burris finally had the REDBLACKS moving midway through the fourth, starting with a 23-yard completion to Khalil Paden to give the offence some momentum. A 13-yard completion to Dobson Collins followed by a quick catch by Marcus Henry kept the ball rolling — then the REDBLACKS struck suddenly, as Wallace Miles found a small seam after a quick hitch pass and took it all the way to the end zone, pulling Ottawa to within a field goal.

Things didn’t take long to go sour however, as the Als responded within the very next minute. Carter started it off with a deep catch behind coverage, while a facemask penalty moved Montreal back into the red zone soon after. After struggling to convert on their opportunities earlier, the Als promptly found paydirt this time when the rookie Rodgers got around the edge on a running play and finished with the touchdown.

The REDBLACKS threatened again, but were stuffed by the powerful Alouettes’ front-seven twice from just a yard shy of the first down, turning the ball over and clinching an Alouettes victory.

The win marked Montreal’s second of the season and snapped a six-game losing streak, moving them into second place in the East Division and just a game back of the first-place Argos. They look to continue their momentum with a pivotal divisional matchup next weekend with the Ticats.

Ottawa on the other hand remains in the mix, but will have to get back on track next weekend in a return trip home to face the Lions.