November 28, 2010

In Progress: Riders, Als battle for Grey Cup Staff

EDMONTON — The Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders are tied 11-11 after three quarters at the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton.

Montreal jumped out to and early 7-0 lead only six minutes in on an Avon Cobourne touchdown.

The score was set up when the Roughriders elected to punt the football from their own goal line instead of taking a safety and giving up two points.

Punter Eddie Johnson hit the ball solid, but a 15-yard, no-yards penalty set Montreal up on the Roughriders 38.

Montreal head coach Marc Trestman often talks about his offence being pass-first, but the Alouettes got their first score largely on the ground.

After an eight-yard scramble by Calvillo, Cobourne ran the ball down the 15. Calvillo hit former Roughrider Jamel Richardson with a pass which he took down to the three.

Cobourne then ran it in from there through a huge hole opened up by guard Scott Flory, who sealed the inside, and tackle Jeff Perrett, who delivered the kickout block.

There was an ugly moment midway through the first quarter when Roughrider defensive back Leron Mitchell attempted to tackle Cobourne and got his ankle caught on the turf. His ankle was obviously deformed after the play and he had to be carted off. It was later announced that he had broken his leg.

Montreal missed an opportunity to make it a two score game a short while later, missing a 31-yarder just wide right. The Als had to settle for a single.

Then the Saskatchewan offence caught life.

Durant led the Roughriders on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown dive by Wes Cates.

The drive was helped by a pass interference penalty on Montreal linebacker Chip Cox in the endzone that put the ball on the one as time expired in the first.

The Roughriders seized that moment and cooled the Alouettes offence off in the second quarter.

A sack and a batted ball, both by Roughrider linebacker Jerrell Freeman, forced the Als to punt on their first series of the frame.

After Roughrider kicker Warren Kean nailed a 27 yard field goal to put the Western champs up 10-8, the defence went back to work, sacking Calvillo and hurrying him again on the next series, forcing another punt.

The Roughrider offence however failed to capitalize, with the only point after the Kean field goal coming from a Johnson punt that went into the endzone.

The Montreal Alouettes scored the first points of the second half as they tied the game on a 22-yard field goal from Duval at 5:34 of the third quarter. The Roughriders looked to have stopped the Alouettes earlier in the drive as they had forced a thir-and-two at the Alouettes 41-yard line. The Alouettes executed a fake punt direct-snap to Eric Deslauriers however and picked up 10-yards to keep the drive alive.

The stands were a loud sea of green, as they often are when the Roughriders play games at Commonwealth Stadium. Many Saskatchewan fans made the trip west to neighbouring Alberta and were in full form by game time.

Sunday’s game-time temperature of -4 C was considered down right pleasant by many considering the game was being held outdoors in Edmonton in late November. The sky was overcast, but the winds were light.

Sunday’s game was a rematch of the 2009 Grey Cup. The Alouettes won that game 28-27 after a Roughrider 13-man penalty on a last-second, missed field goal gave Als kicker Damon Duvaul a second chance on which he capitalized.

The Als, which finished the season 12-6, and the Riders, which finished 10-8, split their two head-to-head matchups in 2010 with each team winning at home. The total score of both games favoured the Alouettes by only one point.

The two teams have played each other twice in the post-season, with Montreal winning both games.

The Grey Cup game was last held in Edmonton in 2002, when the Alloutettes defeated the Edmonton Eskimos 25-16. Calvillo was named MVP in that game.

Saskatchewan has won three Grey Cups in franchise history, the last coming against Winnipeg in 2007. The Alouettes have won six.

More to follow…

– with files from the Canadian Press