October 8, 2012

Bombers hold off late rally by Als for crucial victory

CFL.ca Staff

MONTREAL — Joey Elliott threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers, while Winnipeg’s defence held a powerful Montreal offence in check, as the Bombers upset the Alouettes 27-22 at Percival-Molson Stadium in Montreal.

Elliott finished the afternoon with 17 completions for 335 yards securing only his second win in six starts, while receiver Chris Matthews registered his best outing in eight weeks, scoring his first touchdown since Week 7.

Today’s matchup marked the third of four encounters between the two teams, with the Als winning the first two tilts by a combined score of 77-56.

Entering Week 15, both the Als and Bombers were hoping to get back in the win column, as both clubs suffered tough losses a week earlier.

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They  were also each dealing with injury concerns, with the Als entering the action without the likes of receiver SJ Green, while the Bombers were without quarterback Buck Pierce, forcing the team to go with Joey Elliott under centre.

In five games as a starter, Elliott has had trouble registering positive results, winning just one game while throwing just two touchdown passes as well.

Early on however, Elliott seemed poised and in control of the Bombers offence, completing three of his first five passes for 52 yards, paving the way for a 24-yard field goal connection by kicker Justin Palardy to give the Bombers an early 3-0 lead.

But Winnipeg’s early lead wouldn’t last long, as the Anthony Calvillo-led Montreal offence would equal the score in a hurry, courtesy of a 27-yard field goal by Sean Whyte.

With the first quarter winding down, the Als and Bombers would exchange turnovers, with the Als giving up possession on two consecutive drives.

Following their second turnover, which arrived after Als returner Trent Guy fumbled the ball after running into his own blocker, the Bombers offence took the field hoping to break through the Als defensive front.

Elliott would ultimately need just one play to do so, as he found receiver Terrence Edwards alone behind coverage for a 50-yard touchdown pass, giving the Bombers a 10-3 lead.

Yet, the Als offence wouldn’t go down so easy.

After Guy redeemed himself with a 56-yard return following the major, the Als started their next possession from Winnipeg’s 38 yard line hoping to equal the score with the second quarter still in its early stages.

Calvillo would orchestrate a nine-play, 46-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard plunge by backup QB Adrian McPherson, evening the score at 10 points apiece in the process.

But Elliott would strike back with a quick strike, again needing just one play to find the endzone.

This time, however, he connected with another one of his big-play pass-catchers, finding Chris Matthews 42 yards downfield for his second touchdown strike of the game.

With the touchdown pass, Elliott equaled his total for the entire season. At the end of the half, Elliott had completed eight passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns, silencing the usually boisterous crowd in Montreal.

Bombers ‘D’ Holds Strong

The Bombers defence had a solid day in Montreal, picking off Anthony Calvillo twice, while forcing three fumbles in the process.

With less than two minutes to go in the opening 30 minutes, the Als seemed poised to the find the endzone and tie the game, but a heads-up by Bombers DB Johnny Sears, who hauled in a tipped ball by Brandon London in the corner of the endzone, ended the threat.

The Bombers entered the half with a 17-13 lead, after Whyte connected on a 39-yard field goal with just three seconds remaining on the clock.

The second half got underway with both teams cautiously running their offences, with both teams playing to quick two-and-outs to start the third quarter.

The Alouettes would eventually cut Winnipeg’s lead to a single point, thanks to a 25-yard field goal by Whyte, his third connection of the afternoon.

But the Bombers would continue their trend of answering back in a hurry, as Palady would split the uprights from 21 yards out to restore the Bombers’ four-point lead.

Following another two-and-out by the Als, one in which Calvillo continued to be out of sync with his receivers, the Bombers were seemingly set to extend their lead to a touchdown’s worth, but ran into trouble after  Mike Renaud had trouble handling the snap on a field goal attempt.

Palardy would recover the errant snap, but was immediately tackled by Als defensive back Jerald Brown for a 10-yard loss.

Most importantly, however, the Bombers walked away with no points, giving Montreal a much easier hill to climb in the fourth quarter.

But, just like they had been doing for the entire outing, the Bombers defence held strong against Calvillo, forcing yet another quick possession that resulted in Whyte’s fourth punt of the games.

At the conclusion of the third quarter, the Bombers defence allowed Calvillo to complete just one pass, a nine-yard strike to Bo Bowling.

But the comeback hill would suddently get a whole lot steeper for the Alouettes, as Elliott would increase Winnipeg’s lead to 11, as he found rookie receiver Rory Kohlert from 15 yards out for the University of Saskatchewan product’s first-career touchdown.

However, with less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the slumbering Alouettes offence would finally wake up.

Calvillo put together an impressive seven-play, 69-yard drive that resulted in a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon London. The Als would attempt a two-point conversion, but Calvillo’s pass would be knocked down at the line, leaving the score at 27-22 in favour of the Bombers.

The Als would regain possession with 1:30 left in the game, as Elliott and the Bombers offence were unable to move the chains on a crucial second down at Montreal’s 50 yard line.

However, after the Als seemed like they would stage a late-game comeback, the Bombers snuffed out any chance of that happening, as Brandon Stewart intercepted a deep pass attempt to London to secure Winnipeg’s fourth win of the season.

Despite Calvillo’s seemingly sub-par afternoon, the veteran pivot did manage to surpass the 300-yard passing mark. Calvillo has only failed to reach the said mark just once at home this season.

Calvillo’s counterpart, Elliott, had his best outing since he threw for 400 yards in Week 17 vs. the Tiger-Cats. His touchdown pass to Edwards was his first since that game.

Next Week for Montreal: The Alouettes travel to Toronto for a crucial East Division battle with the Argonauts. BUY TICKETS.

Next Week for Winnipeg: The Bombers return home to face the Calgary Stampeders at Canad Inns Stadium. BUY TICKETS.