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CFL Preview - Toronto (2-2) at Montreal (2-2)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, July 27, 8:30 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Undefeated in two home games thus far in 2012, the Montreal Alouettes try to keep the ball rolling as they entertain the Toronto Argonauts in an East Division showdown at Stade Percival-Molson Stadium on Friday night.

Montreal head coach Marc Trestman was rewarded with a contract extension following his 50th win a couple of weeks back, but he was unable to celebrate his new riches as the Als bowed to Hamilton in Week 4 by a score of 39-24 on the road.

The Montreal offense started off slowly against the Tiger-Cats in the last outing, but it picked up some momentum in the third quarter before completely shutting down en route to the double-digit setback.

Quarterback Anthony Calvillo converted 24-of-39 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns, but he was sacked twice and nearly had his one interception returned for a touchdown by the Hamilton defense. Calvillo spread the ball to seven receivers, with S.J. Green stretching his six catches into 110 yards thanks in large part to his 54-yard effort down the middle of the field at one point.

The so-called running attack was ineffective for the Als as they generated just 67 yards on 12 attempts.

The pass defense for the visitors had trouble slowing down Hamilton's Henry Burris, as the signal-caller missed on a mere three throws and generated both 360 yards and four touchdowns.

As for the Argonauts, a team which has come up empty in two road dates so far in 2012, they managed to slip by a winless Winnipeg squad last Wednesday with a narrow 25-22 triumph at home in order to tie both Montreal and Hamilton for first place in the East Division at 2-2.

It wasn't pretty by any means, but quarterback Ricky Ray stepped up big when he needed to the most, combining with Jason Barnes on a 37-yard TD strike with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to give the hosts the victory. Ray hit on 23-of-34 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns, fighting through a couple of sacks and an interception along the way.

Chad Owens, the league leader in combined yards each of the last two years, had an up and down game as he reeled in a 37-yard TD strike from Ray late in the second quarter, but also fumbled once following a catch and muffed a punt which turned the ball back over to the Blue Bombers as well. Owens finished the meeting with four catches for 63 yards, and he tacked on another 132 yards on kickoff returns.

Now a more viable option on offense, Owens is second on the team and seventh in the league in receiving with 21 receptions for 295 yards. Ahead of him in that department is Andre Durie who has 28 grabs for 357 yards (third in the CFL), and yet Durie is the only receiver in the top-10 without a major to this point in the campaign.

Second in the league in combined yards with 1,010 after four games, Owens is obviously a player that opponents like Montreal have to plan for, but the sprite receiver/returner from Hawaii can also be his own worst enemy, attempting to make his next move on the field without fully securing possession of the ball. Should that trend continue, Owens could play himself right out of the Toronto attack.

Ray continues to round himself into his new role as the starter for the Argonauts after spending so many years with Edmonton. Ray is second in the league in passing yards (1,262) and has completed close to 70 percent of his attempts, although he still has just two more passing scores (six) than he does interceptions (four).

The only quarterback ahead of Ray in passing yards is Calvillo (1,316) after four games and while the Montreal signal-caller is second in the league in passing TDs (10) and efficiency rating (106.8), his completion percentage (.639) is a bit sub par compared to previous years for the all-time leader in passing yards for professional football.

As far as this season's schedule is concerned, these teams are set to meet again in Montreal on September 23 and then a few weeks later the Argonauts are slated to host the Als in the third and final regular-season matchup.

In terms of the all-time, regular-season series between the squads, Montreal owns a 106-82-3 edge stretching back to 1946. The Als delivered a 29-19 win at home in the most recent matchup last October and have posted three straight triumphs and 11 in the last 13 contests with Toronto.

With both defenses giving up considerable points thus far, this could be one of those wild, offensive outings that has both Calvillo and Ray reaching a little bit deeper in order to out-duel the other. The game could come down to one of the final possessions, in which case Calvillo and the Als hold the edge.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 38, Edmonton 34

07/25 10:41:02 ET