Floundering foes meet, as Montreal hosts Hamilton
Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of struggling clubs both have a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats pay a visit to the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday afternoon at Percival Molson Stadium.
Both programs have just two wins on the season, and while that is certainly a disappointing statement for each, the fact is even with a mere four points entering Week 11 action, Hamilton and Montreal are just two points out of first place in the East Division standings where Toronto leads the way with an awkward 3-7 record.
After suffering through a six-game slide, the Als finally showed signs of life last week as they doubled-up on expansion Ottawa at home in a 20-10 final. Taking over the quarterback duties for Montreal was Jonathan Crompton who converted 15-of-25 passes for 245 yards and an interception. The squad tossed in a bit of a wrinkle on offense when Tanner Marsh stepped in and threw a one- yard TD to S.J. Green, the backup signal caller's only attempt of the contest.
Green finished with five receptions for 48 yards, while teammate Duron Carter also had five catches, but he stretched those opportunities out to a game-high 127 yards. On the ground it was Brandon Whitaker with an even 100 yards on 17 carries, while James Rodgers used his only rushing attempt to race 17 yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter to give the Als a little breathing room.
Meanwhile Hamilton, which was dealing with a three-game losing streak entering play last week, somehow managed to hold on against visiting Toronto in a 13-12 final. The Tiger-Cats scored all of their points in the first half and then, while struggling on offense in the second half, also clamped down on the Argos over the final 30 minutes. The only scoring for either side after intermission came when Hamilton kicker Justin Medlock conceded in the end zone to give the Argos two points in the third quarter.
Hamilton, which was guilty of 17 penalties for a loss of 111 yards, still managed to control the action by maintaining possession for almost 38 minutes.
In the first game played at Tim Hortons Field, quarterback Zach Collaros made his return to action for the first time since suffering a concussion on July 4 versus Edmonton, leading his new team to a narrow victory against his former mates. Collaros converted 27-of-38 passes for 317 yards, including a nine-yard score to Bakari Grant in the first quarter.
Grant finished with three catches for 43 yards, one of six players to be on the receiving end of a Collaros pass.
Defensively, Hamilton held the Argonauts to a mere nine first downs and 177 yards of offense, although the 'Cats did allow Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray to play just well enough to become the newest member of the CFL's 50,000-yard passing fraternity. Still, defensive end Antonio Coleman let Ray know that his milestone game would also include a few hard hits, as he posted two of the four sacks against the signal caller.
As well as the Hamilton defense went after Ray and the Argos, it should be noted that entering play this week the Ticats are tied with expansion Ottawa for last in the league when it comes to sacks, posting only 18. Unfortunately, when it comes to Hamilton quarterbacks being taken down behind the line of scrimmage, the team is near the bottom in that department as well with 30.
Because of injuries sustained by both Collaros and Dan LeFevour, the Hamilton passing attack has had difficulty finding a rhythm, which might explain why the squad has an efficiency rating of 81.1. While the team has managed to convert 62.8 percent of their pass attempts, having only seven touchdowns against nine interceptions doesn't help matters.
Luckily for the Hamilton defense, one of the only teams that has an efficiency rating lower that the 'Cats is Montreal at a woeful 61.0. The Als have converted a meager 51.0 percent of their passes for a paltry five aerial scores, against 10 interceptions. If it were not for the Ottawa RedBlacks, who are averaging 15.1 ppg, Montreal would be anchoring last place in that category with a mere 16.1 ppg at the moment.
Stretching back to 1950 and taking into consideration only regular-season bouts, the series between these two clubs currently favors Montreal by a count of 89-81-7, even though Hamilton won the most recent meeting last October by a score of 27-24 in Guelph.
The Ticats have won three of the last four and four of six from Montreal, but the last eight meetings have been evenly split.
The teams are scheduled to close out the regular season against each other on Nov. 8 in Hamilton, which at this point could very likely be the last game of 2014 for both squads given their current records.
09/03 11:34:21 ET