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Montreal suffers 35-19 drubbing in its first game at Vancouver since 2019 at what has become a graveyard site for the Alouettes.
You knew something strange was going to occur. After all, the game was played in Vancouver, where the Alouettes rarely, if ever, win.
This season, it took only two plays for the bizarre to transpire, and for the Als to quickly realize fate was going to strike them a cruel blow. Again.
British Columbia quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who was intercepted six times last Monday, at Toronto, dropped back to pass for the second consecutive play after his first throw was incomplete.
This one was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Montreal safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy — only to have the potential score wiped out due to a questionable illegal contact penalty against him.
Would that play, and an early 7-0 lead for the visitors, changed anything? Would it have possibly unravelled Adams and got him thinking it was going to be another one of those nights?
We’ll never know.
What we do know is the Lions, given a reprieve, scored on their opening possession. But so, too, did the Als and the teams were tied, 7-7, following the first quarter.
That, however, was as close as Montreal would come, thoroughly dominated and outclassed during this 35-19 drubbing Sunday night at B.C. Place before a modest 15,565 spectators.
It was Montreal’s first game at Vancouver since 2019, and the team undoubtedly hopes it’ll be another four years before it’s forced to make the cross-country trip to what has become a graveyard site.
The Als haven’t won in B.C. since 2015 and only twice since the turn of the century. The Lions, playing their second game in less than a week, improved to 4-1.
While it’s still likely premature to suggest the Als are in trouble at 2-2, they lost their second consecutive game, have only defeated Ottawa and Hamilton — a pair of teams that collectively have won two games — and now are faced with a short week before hosting Toronto Friday night.
Not only are the Argonauts the defending Grey Cup champions, they’ll be well rested following a bye week in the schedule. They’re also the CFL’s only undefeated club (3-0).
There are numerous issues that continue to plague Montreal, with few, if any, solutions, in sight.
The offence continues to struggle under head coach Jason Maas, a former CFL quarterback who calls the plays. The Lions held Montreal to one offensive touchdown — a one-yard run by QB Cody Fajardo nearly nine minutes into the game, which capped a seven-play, 70-yard drive.
Otherwise, the Als could only produce four David Côté field goals, including a season-long 51 yarder at the end of the first half that should have provided the team with some momentum, but didn’t.
One of those field goals was a 13-yard chip-shot in the third quarter, Montreal unable to find the end zone from the Lions’ five-yard line. Late in the contest, with the outcome no longer in doubt, the Als couldn’t convert from inside the B.C. 10.
The Als have five offensive touchdowns through four games. That total likely wouldn’t produce results in Pop Warner football, let alone the CFL.
Fajardo continues to perform admirably. He completed 24 of 39 passes for 280 yards against the Lions and didn’t throw any interceptions despite his inability to get the team into the end zone.
However, in what is now becoming a recurring theme, he was frequently running for his life and was sacked seven times by B.C., which increased its total to 21 sacks. Fajardo has now been sacked 22 times this season, making the likelihood of an injury seem inevitable.
Fajardo distributed the ball effectively. Austin Mack, as usual, was the leading receiver, with eight catches for 72 yards. Newcomer Tyler Snead caught four balls for 61 yards, while Kaion Julien-Grant had five receptions for 49 yards. Quartney Davis, another player making his Montreal debut, had two catches for 50 yards.
But tailback William Stanback continues to struggle and seldom is asked to contribute. He gained only 17 yards on six carries, although he did catch a 23-yard pass. But it was Fajardo, again, who led all Montreal rushers, gaining 57 yards on eight carries.
While the Als’ special teams units have been solid to date, they continually self-destructed on this night.
Returner Chandler Worthy fumbled a punt late in the second quarter, although the Lions could produce only a field goal. Earlier in that period, a Côté field goal was blocked by Woody Baron, recovered by Jalen Edwards-Cooper, who returned it 65 yards for a touchdown.
Of the Als’ 10 penalties for 105 yards, many came against the special teams — three alone to Canadian receiver Hergy Mayala, who may well have played himself off the team.
Adams, the former Als’ starting quarterback who lost his job early last season to Trevor Harris before being traded for a first-round draft choice, was exquisite picking apart Montreal’s defence. He completed 20 of 25 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown.
Tailback Shaun Shivers, only 5-foot-7 and 187 pounds, gained 63 yards on 14 carries, scoring once. He also caught two passes for 73 yards and would have added another late touchdown — making the final score even more one-sided — except he fumbled at the Montreal 2.
We’re told Als owner Pierre Karl Péladeau watched the first half from the sideline, only to disappear following the intermission. He couldn’t have been pleased with what he witnessed.
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