MONTREAL -- Both Troy Smith and Tyrell Sutton made good in their first career CFL starts, leading the Alouettes to a 36-5 victory over the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday afternoon at Percival Molson Stadium.
Smith completed 17 of his 35 passes for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Sutton was solid as well, carrying the ball 13 times for 84 yards and a touchdown, hauling in 4 passes for an additional 37 yards as well.
Additionally, Smith became the sixth quarterback to win in their first career start this season.
With the win, the Als kept their hopes of hosting a home playoff game alive. The two teams will meet again next week in Guelph, in what should be a heated East Division affair.
With Anthony Calvillo shut down for the remainder of the season, and Josh Neiswander unable to bring Montreal’s offence to the level Jim Popp expected, the Als made the decision to go with Smith behind centre on Sunday afternoon.
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» Video: Green Hauls in 2nd TD
» Video: Smith's Laser to Bruce
» Preview: Als host Ticats
Heading into his first career CFL start, Smith had thrown just 12 passes for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. Early on, his inexperience seemed to get the better of him, as he played to two consecutive two-and-outs, throwing no completions in the process.
On his third possession, however, Smith appeared to finally find his footing.
First, the former Heisman Trophy winner found Bo Bowling on a hitch pass for a 12-yard gain, which was immediately followed up by a 64-yard touchdown strike to SJ Green.
Then, after Bowling returned a Josh Bartel punt 34 yards to give the Als excellent field position to start their ensuing possession, Smith promptly found Green on the third play of the drive for another touchdown, extending Montreal’s lead to 14.
The score was Green’s 12th of the season, putting him in the league lead in the category.
An illegal contact on the receiver penalty on Evan McCollough pushed the Als up 10 extra yards on the first play of the possession.
Following a 26-yard field goal by Luca Congi to get the Ticats on the board, Montreal’s offence shifted gears from the air and turned towards the ground attack.
Looking to make an impression and solidify his spot as Montreal's number one back, Sutton reeled off three consecutive runs of over 10 yards, the last of which he took 19 yards to the house to give the Als a 21-3 lead.
The score was Sutton’s third in as many games.
But Smith, Sutton and the rest of the Alouettes offence weren’t done yet.
One possession after Sean Whyte kicked a 32-yard field goal, the Als marched 72 yards on seven plays, the last of which saw Smith hook up with Arland Bruce for a 26-yard touchdown to increase Montreal’s lead to 28.
On the drive, Smith completed all four of his passes, including a 32-yard toss to Duron Carter, that saw the elusive pivot avoid a Hamilton rush and move up in the pocket to make the throw.
The Als took a 31-3 lead into the break.
Once the second half got underway, the Als continued to flex their muscle – only this time it was on the defensive side of the ball.
Following Whyte’s second field goal of the afternoon, Burris saw his pass picked off by Geoff Tisdale, who returned it 14 yards into Hamilton territory.
Fortunately for the Ticats, the Als weren't able to capitalize off the turnover, keeping their deficit at 31.
Tisdale's interception was his league-leading sixth of the season.
The third and fourth quarters saw little action, with a pair of safeties conceded by both clubs serving as the only other points aside from Whyte's earlier field goal.
While the focus in the coming week will likely be centred on Smith, Sutton and the Als offence, the defence was its usualy rock-solid self.
Leading charge for the unit was veteran rush end John Bowman, who collected two sacks and four tackles. Linebacker Chip Cox also made his presence felt, registering six tackles and a pair of sacks of his own. The unit was also able to limit the dangerous CJ Gable to zero yards on 3 carries.