The Montreal Alouettes will participate in the final game of the Canadian Football League (CFL). They defeated the Toronto Argonauts 38-17 on Saturday in the East final to advance to the Gray Cup final for the first time in 13 years.
Montreal will participate in the 19th Gray Cup final in its history on November 19 in Hamilton. The Alouettes will face the winners of the Western final, which pits the British Columbia Lions against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers later Saturday.
During their last Finals appearance, in 2010, the Alouettes won their 7th Gray Cup, second straight, defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders 21-18.
The Alouettes defense, true to itself, set the tone for the game. From the first offensive sequence for the Argos, Marc-Antoine Dequoy silenced the crowd at BMO Field with an interception returned 101 yards for a touchdown.
Early in the second quarter, Toronto tried to get a score with a running back sneaking in a third-down situation, but Montreal’s defensive brigade rose again to keep their opponents in check.
With less than a minute left in the half, Alouettes guard Cody Fajardo opened the door for his opponents, throwing the ball directly into the hands of Argos defensive end Tarvarus McFadden.
But the Alouettes’ bread and butter this year is defense. The latter was further illustrated on the next play, when defensive end Shawn Lemon forced running back Chad Kelly into a fumble before seeing teammate Darnell Sankey recover the ball.
The Alouettes offense struggled to create chances in the first half, settling for a David Côté field goal. Still, much of the credit goes to the Argonauts’ defensive line, which put a lot of pressure on Fajardo, with five sacks before returning to the locker room.
Montreal’s defensive unit continued its excellent performance early in the 3rd quarter with a key interception, courtesy of Reggie Stubblefield. On the next offensive sequence, a penalty on the Argonauts gave the Alouettes a first down, and Cody Fajardo made sure to reward his defensive back’s efforts by joining Tyler Snead on the key play.
Then, after a missed field goal on offense, the indomitable Sparrows defense went for its fourth interception of the game, returning it 22 yards for a touchdown by Kabion Ento. At the end of the 3rd quarter it was 24-3 in favor of the Alouettes.
The Argonauts started their 4th quarter comeback with a touchdown, but Montreal’s special teams responded quickly with James Letcher Jr.’s defensive punt return returning 105 yards for a major.
The Argonauts offense, which finished the season ranked No. 2 in the CFL, scored another touchdown after that, but it was too little, too late. Jeshrun Antwi’s goal with less than two minutes on the clock closed the books.
More details will follow.