Argos whip Alouettes as Popp takes reins in Montreal
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Ricky Ray returned under center for the Argonauts and threw for a trio of majors in Toronto's 38-13 thrashing of the Montreal Alouettes Thursday at Molson Stadium.
Ray, who missed last week's victory over British Columbia with a knee injury, didn't miss a beat against the Als, completing 15-of-18 passes for 152 yards before being lifted late in the second quarter with Toronto holding a comfortable cushion.
Zach Collaros made his first CFL start last week in place of Ray and tossed three touchdown passes in a win over British Columbia. He relieved Ray on Thursday and finished 6-of-10 for 44 yards.
John Chiles caught four passes for 49 yards and a pair of scores, while Jason Barnes added a touchdown grab of his own for the Argonauts (4-2), who have won three straight games.
"We're getting better," Argos head coach Scott Milanovich said. "We've improved each of the last four weeks and we're getting closer to what we're building as a team. The locker room is getting tight."
Montreal (2-4) snapped a three-game skid with a five-point victory over the Eskimos in its last time out, but the win wasn't enough to keep Dan Hawkins on the sideline, as the first-year coach was fired after just five games.
General manager Jim Popp took over coaching duties for the hosts, but the change in leadership didn't seem to effect the play on the field, as the Alouettes turned the ball over seven times in the resounding setback.
"We turned the ball over too often," Popp admitted. "We got ourselves in a hole. We played much better in the second half, but not enough to come back and win."
Anthony Calvillo completed just 16-of-30 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Jerome Messam carried the ball 14 timed for 90 yards for Montreal.
The third edition of the Popp era got off to an inauspicious start, as Noel Devine fumbled the opening kickoff and Shane Horton pounced on the loose ball to give the Argos possession at the Montreal 30.
Ray turned the fumble into points two plays later, finding Chiles in the back right corner of the end zone for an 11-yard major and a 7-0 lead.
Devine coughed up another fumble later in the first, as he caught a bubble screen before being wrapped up by Alonzo Lawrence, who ripped the ball loose and scooped it up at the Montreal 30.
Ray again needed just two plays to produce points, hooking up with Chiles -- this time in the back left corner -- for a 19-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
Sean Whyte had a chance to get the Als on the board later in the first, but his 49-yard field goal try was partially blocked and sailed wide left. Chad Owens fielded the kick in his own end zone and got a nice block near the 10- yard line before outrunning the Als down the left sideline en route to a 118- yard major to extend Toronto's cushion to 21-0.
Ray added a 14-yard scoring strike to Barnes late in the second before Noel Prefontaine knocked down a 43-yard field goal to push the lead to 31-0.
Whyte got the Als on the board with a 48-yarder on the last play of the half to make it 31-3 at the break, but a Prefontaine single late in the third pushed the margin to 32-3.
Montreal finally found the end zone early in the fourth, when Calvillo fired a strike to Brandon London streaking down the middle of the field for a 48-yard major to make it 32-10.
Whyte buried a 15-yard field goal to trim the margin below 30, but Prefontaine connected on a 25-yarder before adding a 36-yarder with under a minute remaining to account for the final margin.
Calvillo has thrown at least one touchdown in 23 straight games ... For Popp, this marks the third time he has taken over as head coach for Montreal, the other two instances coming in 2001 when he replaced Rod Rust and five years later following Don Matthews. He has a regular-season record of 10-14 ... Montreal slotback Jamel Richardson tore the LCL and ACL in his left knee on Sunday and will miss the remainder of the season ... London finished with three catches for a game-high 64 yards.
08/08 23:50:18 ET