Landry: Ento’s takeaways key for Als in 110th Grey Cup
They don’t give out a Defensive Player of the Game award at the Grey Cup anymore but if they did, Montreal Alouettes’ defensive back Kabion Ento would most likely have picked it up in the wake of the 110th Grey Cup game.
The Alouettes’ rookie corner had a very large game in the Alouettes’ 28-24 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Tim Hortons field in Hamilton, and although he and the Montreal defence were overshadowed on this night by their buddies on offence, the unit showed up big time once again, led by Ento.
The 27-year-old native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas denied the Blue Bombers at least ten points on two massive defensive plays, one of them a forced fumble in the second quarter and the other a masterpiece of an interception in the third.
Pretty good night for a player who started the season on the practice roster and faced some struggles as he tried to crack the Montreal line-up.
In the aftermath of the game and the trophy ceremony, Ento was low-key and quite humble as he talked about his two big plays, and although his interception – a breathtaking, leaping nab in the Montreal end zone where he stole a sure touchdown from Winnipeg’s Kenny Lawler – was the artistic apex of his night, he said he much preferred the forced fumble.
Ento knocked the ball away from Winnipeg running back Brady Oliveira during a second-quarter Blue Bomber drive, denying the Western champions at least a field goal when it was recovered by teammate Ciante Evans.
“I enjoyed the strip-fumble, ‘cause it was the first strip-fumble I ever had,” said the soft-spoken Ento.
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When it came to his stunning interception in the third quarter – it looked like Lawler, one of the CFL’s kings of the 50-50 ball was sure to pull in a touchdown catch that would’ve given Winnipeg a 24-14 lead – Ento merely said “just readin’ my keys. I knew what I was supposed to do.”
Ento’s big night came on the heels of last week’s Eastern Final win over Toronto, a game in which he’d returned an interception for a touchdown in the Alouettes’ 38-17 upset of the heavily-favoured Argonauts.
“To play a game like this and play the playoffs the way he’s played, I mean he’s stepped up big time,” said Montreal head coach Jason Maas, crediting Ento with hanging tough when things weren’t really going his way early in the season.
“Kabion has worked so hard this year,” Maas continued. “He had to improve. There was times at the beginning of the year where we said ‘hey, can we make that play?’ The season wasn’t easy for him. There was some ups and some downs. But he kept fighting, kept competing, kept working, got better. Any time we put him on the field, he got better.”
If the Montreal coaches noticed and appreciated Ento’s work ethic this season, that appreciation surely flowed two ways.
“I mean, I had my struggles this year, and not to say I won’t struggle again, but those guys told me to believe in myself and be confident,” said Ento. They saw what I could do every week in practice.”
Like most of his Alouette teammates, Ento was feeling rather vindicated after the Grey Cup game. Being counted out at the beginning of the season, then rising to the top of the podium sure tastes good.
“Of course, when you get ranked ninth, it adds fuel to any team,” he said. “We had to find a way to come together real fast. And we had some tough losses. Obviously, we just beat two teams we hadn’t beat all year.”
It came together in the end and I’m so proud of these guys.”
Ento, who threw in a couple of knockdowns to spice up his big Grey Cup game, was not about to give away any secrets about how he managed to pilfer a sure touchdown from the great Lawler.
“I can’t tell you that,” he said wryly. “I got another season to come back to. I gotta play him a lot of times.”
“I gotta keep it in my back pocket.”