June 15, 2024

Walter Fletcher sparks Alouettes in win over Elks


EDMONTON — Montreal Alouettes running back Walter Fletcher scored two touchdowns and his team’s defence came up with two pivotal interceptions as the Als came away with a 23-20 win at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday.

Fletcher finished the contest with a game-leading 143 all-purpose yards, catching his first touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter and then sealing the road victory with a 39-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Montreal’s Cody Fajardo threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns, adding 27 yards on the ground. Kaion Julien-Grant led his team’s receiving group with six catches for 89 yards.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson went 28-42 with an even 300 yards through the air, giving away two interceptions along the way. Kurleigh Gittens Jr. was his favourite receiver of the day. He caught seven of his nine targets for 93 yards.

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Montreal got the scoring started early on with an eight-play, 80-yard drive which was highlighted by a long bomb from Fajardo to Julien-Grant for 53 yards. Another 9-yard reception by the receiver brought the Als inside Edmonton’s 10-yard line. Fajardo then looked the way of Cole Spieker who used one hand to bring in the touchdown. David Cote would hit the extra point to put Montreal up 7-0.

After a strong 23-yard kick return from Javon Leake, the Elks would eventually march down the field to score their first touchdown of the day. Gittens Jr. hauled in a 26-yard reception along the way and Bethel-Thompson found Hergy Mayala to bring the Elks inside Montreal’s five-yard-line. Dakota Prukop trucked into the end zone to tie up the game at 7-7.

On the ensuing drive, Fajardo would find one of his receivers down the middle again, this time connecting with Spieker for a 27-yard play. A five-play drive was rounded out by Cote nailing a 53-yard kick to make it 10-7 for the away team at the start of the second quarter.

Later on in the quarter, Bethel-Thompson looked Gitten Jr.’s way for a big 29-yard reception. After getting sacked by Bryce Crosby for a three-yard loss, the Elks quarterback connected with Malik Flowers for seven yards to at least bring his offence into field goal range. Boris Bede made his 48-yard kick to tie things up at 10-10.

On the game’s next drive, and with time winding down in the half, the Als came up with a crucial touchdown. Caleb Evans secured a first down on third-and-one to keep the drive alive and then Fletcher made a dynamite 46-yard run into the end zone to give the Als the lead once more. Cote’s kick attempt was good, making it 17-10.


To close out the half, Leake again helped out his side with a huge 56-yard return. A seven-yard pass from Bethel-Thompson to Kevin Brown enabled Bede to make another 48-yard kick as the half ended 17-13 in favour of the Alouettes.

In the third quarter, after connecting with Mayala for a first-down play, Bethel-Thompson tried to find Geno Lewis deep. Edmonton’s pivot was instead picked off by Nafees Lyon for the game’s first turnover. With the ball on offence, Fajardo tried to fire off a deep throw of his own but Charleston Rambo couldn’t hold onto the ball as he went down inside Edmonton’s 10. The Elks came up with their third sack of the game through Robert Nkemdiche to ensure the Als wouldn’t score off of their turnover and that the third quarter would be a scoreless one.

In the fourth, Bethel-Thompson targeted Dillon Mitchell but the receiver couldn’t get the ball under his control when it looked like he might be end zone bound. The Elks would go for it on third down, but Mustafa Johnson stuffed Prukop for a three-yard loss, handing the Als the ball at midfield with 11 minutes to go in the game. After moving the ball up 19 yards, the Als went for a field goal but Cote missed his first kick of the night, with Purifoy returning the ball to his team’s eight-yard line.

On their next drive, Bethel-Thompson and Mitchell started to get into rhythm on a long drive. Just when it looked like the Elks were on their way to scoring the first points of the second half, Bethel-Thompson threw his second interception of the evening. Coming under pressure significant pressure, his long toss intended for Mitchell was stolen away by Kabion Ento.

The Als would convert off the turnover through the running of Fletcher once again. Montreal’s running back scored his second touchdown of the night, this time getting loose for 39 yards and going untouched into the Edmonton end zone. Cote missed the extra point and the Als held a 23-13 lead with 2:18 left on the clock.

The Elks would respond with their first score of the half after a 13-play drive which went 76 yards. Prukop ran the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard-line and Bede would convert on the extra point to make it a three-point ballgame with 33 seconds remaining.

Needing to get the ball back, Bede’s attempted onside kick came close to being recovered by the home team, but the Als would hang onto the ball, and the 23-20 score to secure their second consecutive victory to start the year.

The Alouettes will look to make it three wins in a row when they welcome the Ottawa REDBLACKS into Montreal for their home-opener in Week 3. The Elks go on the road to face-off against the Toronto Argonauts at BMO Field.

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