Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge helped the Als put two touchdowns on the board in as many quarters as he and the Montreal Alouettes topped the Ottawa REDBLACKS 26-9 in pre-season action.
Bridge’s numbers did not jump off the page by any means but his poise and management of the game was impressive for the recently-drafted pivot in his first taste of pro football.
Bridge went 4 of 8 for 52 yards and one touchdown pass to RB Brandon Rutley in the win.
Saturday’s contest was played inside the confines of Laval University put was listed as a home game for Ottawa.
After a lopsided loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in their pre-season debut, the REDBLACKS played their what is likely their opening day starting lineup for the entire first half.
The Henry Burris-led offence used the first two drives to showcase their newest off-season acquisitions at the receiver spot. Maurice Price, Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams all caught passes but the REDBLACKS couldn’t capitalize off any of their receptions despite moving the ball well in between the 40s.
Neither of the three playmakers played in last week’s contest in Hamilton.
The Als too countered with their starters in their first pre-season game with Jonathan Crompton looking to sharpen up before he leads Montreal in what is expected to be his first full season as a starter in the CFL.
After the Als scored a punt single, rookie kicker Boris Bene split the uprights on a 28-yard field goal to give the Montreal a 4-0 second quarter lead. The score was set up by a pair of rushes by RB Tyrell Sutton, one of which went for 12 yards.
Bene was somewhat of a hometown hero, playing his University ball at Laval and even garnered an ovation when he first stepped on the field to attempt the kick.
With 5:12 remaining in the half, Montreal head coach Tom Higgins began tapering off his starter’s playing time, beginning with Crompton who was pulled in favour of South Alabama quarterback Brandon Bridge who was drafted by the Als last month.
Crompton finished 2 of 6 for 17 yards while Sutton had 33 combined yards in limited action.
After the REDBLACKS got on the board with a field goal, the Als leaned on their defence to help set up the game’s first touchdown. With 1:21 left in the second quarter a Burris pass bounced off the hands of his intended target RB Jeremiah Johnson and into the waiting arms of former Winnipeg Blue Bomber and Calgary Stampeder Jonathan Hefney.
With the help of a huge block, Henfey returned the interception inside the Ottawa 10 yard line. The next play saw Bridge spot Rutley in the flat and that along with a successful 2-point conversion helped put the Als on top 12-3 heading into halftime.
Hefney is coming off a year essentially out of the CFL after being cut by the Stampeders in training camp in 2014 and catching on with the Als just prior to the opening of camp this year.
Canadian QB Brandon Bridge commanded the Montreal offence well in his first set of pro snaps, helping put two majors on the board.
Bridge continued as the second half got underway but Burris did not, finishing 21 of 21 for 126 yards and one interception in a two quarters of work.
While Burris watched backup Danny O’Brien take over the offence, Bridge took command of the Als attack. He calmly marched the Als into Ottawa territory and completed a 6-play drive by handing off to Florida product Chris Rainey who ran through the middle of the REDBLACKS defence for a 10-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 19-3 heading into the fourth quarter.
As the fourth quarter started, both teams inserted new pivots – Thomas DeMarco for Ottawa and Rakeem Cato for the Als.
Cato took a few drives to settle in but when he did, he delivered a strike to put the Als on the board again. Cato hit rookie reciever Johnathan Bryant in stride down the far sideline for a __-yard touchdown to extend the Montreal lead to 26-3.
Cato was a perfect 5-for-5 for 72 yards and a touchdown on his first two posessions.
The REDBLACKS added a late touchdown with 1:40 remaining when DeMarco connected with sophomore SB Khalil Paden but the ensuing two-point conversion and onside kick were no good.
The REDBLACKS become the first CFL team to wrap up their pre-season schedule and begin early prep on their season opener against the very same Alouettes. Montreal, on the other hand, has a short turnaround as they host the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday night at Percival Molson Stadium.