The story was Canadian QB Brandon Bridge but the win went to the Ottawa REDBLACKS who opened the 2015 CFL season with a 20-16 road victory over the Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium Thursday night.
Backup tailback Jeremiah Johnson punched in a 6-yard score after Jovon Johnson intercepted Bridge early in the fourth quarter to put the REDBLACKS in the lead, one which they would not relinquish.
First it was Jonathan Crompton who got hurt. Then Dan LeFevour went down on his first snap. Enter Bridge.
The game was a tale of two halves for Henry Burris, who threw three interceptions in the opening half but settled down in the second to guide his team to the win.
Bridge’s first pass completion was to S.J. Green for a 19 yard gain. The drive finished in a 37-yard field goal from Boris Bede to break the tie and put Montreal up 16-13, a lead they carried over into the final quarter.
Burris finished 23 of 36 for 263 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
On the REDBLACKS' first drive of the second half, punter Anthony Alix ran for 11 yards and the first down to continue the drive for Ottawa. In a milestone moment for Burris, he completed his 4000th career pass on a 19-yard catch by Greg Ellingson.
On a 3rd-and-1, Ottawa opted to go for what looked like a field goal but faked the play and Thomas DeMarco snuck through for the first down. Burris then connected with Ernest Jackson for the touchdown.
Down two points after the score, the REDBLACKS opted to go for two, marking the first two-point convert attempt in 2015 from three-yard-line. Burris got around the corner and reached for the end zone, eventually getting the call his way after an official review. That tied the game at 13-13.
Running back Tyrell Sutton, now the starter for the Alouettes after the release of Brandon Whitaker, scored the first touchdown of the 2015 season to give the Als an opening 6-0 lead.
Delbert Alvarado’s first career field goal attempt was blocked by John Bowman, leaving the REDBLACKS empty-handed.
The REDBLACKS got good field position after pinning Montreal deep and getting the ball back again near midfield, but the offence stalled with no points on the board. Both offences moved the ball but neither could take full advantage as the first quarter ended with Montreal ahead 6-0.
Burris would continue to move the REDBLACKS down the field to start the second quarter but had a pass tipped by his lineman that was then intercepted by Alan-Michael Cash. Crompton didn’t fare much better on the next drive as he was picked off by Moton Hopkins.
Bridge enters with Crompton, LeFevour sidelined
Jonathan Crompton and Dan Lefevour both left Thursday's opener with injuries. Their immediate status is unknown but Brandon Bridge entered in the third quarter. In doing so, Bridge became first Canadian quarterback to see action in a game since Danny Brannagan did for the Toronto Argonauts in 2010...Read More | Watch More
Alvarado’s second field goal attempt, this one from 40 yards out, was successful and cut the Als lead in half, 6-3.
After being trapped deep in its own territory, Montreal opted to give up the safety instead of testing out the return skills of Chris Williams to cut Montreal’s lead to 6-5.
Burris looked to continue the building momentum after strong work from his defence but quickly turned the ball over on another interception, this time to Jonathan Hefney. Nik Lewis would then catch his first ball as an Alouette midway through the second quarter.
Crompton connected with Jean-Cristophe Beaulieu on a four yard pass for a touchdown. Bede converted the point after attempt as the Als extended their 13-5 lead.
Late in the second quarter, Williams would move the REDBLACKS up 40 yards after a huge catch put Ottawa into Alouettes territory. However, the next play Burris threw his third interception of the first half as Billy Parker would quickly end Ottawa’s offensive threat.
Montreal could not turn its extra possession into any damage and finished the first half with a 13-5 lead.
When play resumed in the third quarter we learned that Crompton would not return. The same for LeFevour shortly thereafter.
Momentum swung the REDBLACKS way after that with Johnson punching in the winner.
The REDBLACKS return home on a high as they prepare to host the BC Lions at TD Place while the Als regroup to host the defending Grey Cup Champion Clagary Stampeders with a quarterback situation that is far from solved,