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(Friday, August 6th)
Final Score: Montreal 30, Saskatchewan 26
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Anthony Calvillo threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns before exiting the game with an apparent hand injury, but despite his departure the Montreal Alouettes were still able to hold on for a thrilling 30-26 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at McGill Stadium.
Calvillo, who was the Offense Player of the Month for July, went down in the fourth quarter and was eventually taken into the locker room. However, the fans in Montreal were definitely happy to see the two-time defending MVP back on the sideline minutes later, though he did not re-enter the game.
Jamel Richardson finished with seven receptions for 65 yards and one score for Montreal (5-1), which has won 12 straight home contest. Kerry Watkins also had a solid showing in the win, hauling four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown.
As for the Roughriders (4-2), they were led by Darian Durant, who threw for 445 yards and two touchdowns on 35-of-62 passing. However, the signal-caller also tossed two interceptions in the loss. Weston Dressler was the main target for Durant throughout the contest and finished with 169 yards and one score on 13 catches.
The first play of the game was a 71-yard pass from Calvillo to S. J. Green, and that was followed by a 22-yard touchdown strike from Calvillo to Watkins, giving the Alouettes a quick 7-0 edge.
Montreal's defense got involved early as well, as Chip Cox intercepted a Durant pass on Saskatchewan's second play from scrimmage. The turnover led to an 11-yard field goal by Damon Duval six minutes into the quarter.
The Roughriders cut their deficit to 10-7 thanks to the improvisation of Durant, who eluded several tackles in the backfield before scrambling out of the pocket and finding Dressler for a 20-yard touchdown.
The Alouettes caught some luck early in the second quarter when Calvillo fumbled over the football to Saskatchewan, but an illegal contact call on the Roughriders negated the turnover, giving Montreal another chance. The Als instantly took advantage of their good fortune, as Calvillo found Richardson for an eight-yard scoring strike on the very next play, extending Montreal's lead to 17-7.
After a long drive, the Roughriders tried to cut their deficit to seven points with a 43-yard field goal try, but a wide kick by Luca Congi put the ball in the hands of Tim Maypray, who proceeded to return the missed field goal 118 yards to pay dirt, giving the Als a comfortable, 24-7 edge late in the first half.
Despite struggling through most of the first half, the Roughriders were able to add a 35-yard field goal by Congi in the final seconds of the first half to go into the break down just 24-10.
Saskatchewan inched closer early in the third quarter when Congi connected on a 15-yard field goal, capping off an 11-play, 71-yard drive.
The Als responded later in the quarter with a field goal of their own, as Duval nailed a 47-yard kick.
The kickers continued to dominate the third frame as Congi once against put his mark on the scoreboard, this time with a 35-yard field goal, cutting Saskatchewan's deficit to 27-16.
The Roughriders continued their comeback march in the fourth quarter when Durant found Wes Cates for a six-yard touchdown pass less than four minutes in. The score, which brought Saskatchewan within four points of tying the contest, capped off a nine-play, 77-yard drive.
Less than two minutes later the Als added a point with a 53-yard single by Duval to push their lead to five points.
The Roughriders continued to charge, but once again their drive stalled and Congi was called on for another field goal. This time the Simon Fraser alumni connected on a 46-yard kick, trimming Saskatchewan's deficit to 28-26 at the 8:39 mark.
After a quick possession by the Als, the Roughriders were charging down field looking for their first lead of the game, but an errant pass by Durant bounced off the hands of teammate Andy Fantuz and grabbed by Cox for his second interception of the contest.
"We had to stop them in the second half," said Cox. "They play hard and we play hard. We both play very disciplined and have good players, so it was a dog fight. I expected that."
Montreal's offense became stagnant after the turnover, and on top of the poor play, Chris Leak, the former quarterback of the Florida Gators, had to take over for the injured Calvillo late in the fourth quarter.
Leak missed his target on his first pass of the game, giving the Als their fifth two-and-out in six possessions.
Fortunately for the fans at McGill Stadium, Duval booted a punt down field and placed the Roughriders deep in their own zone. That kick proved to be the biggest of the game, because two plays later, J.P. Bekasiak sacked Durant in the end zone for a safety, giving Montreal a 30-26 lead.
After another two-and-out for Montreal, the Roughriders had one last chance to grab a win, but a Hail Mary pass by Durant was batted down in the end zone, securing the four-point win for Montreal.
"No excuses," said Durant. "I was weak out there. No excuses, but I was out there on the field and I was missing throws tonight. [I] just didn't do enough for us to win the game."
It was the second missed field goal return for a score this season by Maypray, and ironically the other return also came against the Roughriders back on opening day...Durant was able to play despite battling a bout of salmonella poisoning...The last time Montreal lost at home was on October 26th, 2008.
08/07 00:30:22 ET
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