ALS HOLD OFF ARGOS AS THEY READY FOR REGULAR SEASON
A first half touchdown by Duron Carter and a second half major by BJ Cunningham gave the Alouettes all they needed as they topped the Toronto Argonauts 22-15 Friday night in Montreal as their pre-season schedule came to a close.
The two teams entered their final litmus tests with contradicting philosophies under centre. The Alouettes going with projected opening day starter Kevin Glenn and the Argos sitting Ricky Ray and putting the ball in the hands of Logan Kilgore.
The Argos playing with their season opener just six days away kept the majority of the starters at home, electing to evaluate depth after a pre-season win over Hamilton last week at BMO Field.
Kilgore was officially named Ray’s backup after Ottawa signed Trevor Harris in the off-season and the team parted ways with Adrian McPherson earlier in the week. The Middle Tennessee State grad connected with rookie WR Marketih Ambles on a corner route for a 40-yard gain on his first possession and set up the game’s first score off a Lirim Hajrullahu 42-yard boot.
The Als missed two field goals, from 58 and 48-yards out and only netted a single out of the field position and the Argos led 3-1 as the second quarter began.
While the Argos switched to Cody Fajardo in the second quarter, the Als stuck with Glenn and despite a shaky start, got into a groove midway through the second frame.
Glenn stepped into a pass and delivered it right into the waiting arms of receiver Carter who was in behind coverage. Carter, who has returned to the Als after a spectacular 2014 season, and raced 78 yards untouched for the games first major and an 8-3 Montreal lead with 6:35 before halftime.
Both Carter and Glenn would be shut down for the evening after the touchdown and Rakeem Cato entered to close out the second half. Glenn finished 7 of 14 for 109 yards and the major.
Cato wasted no time getting comfortable, cutting on a would-be tackler on a QB draw and racing 31 yards to put the Alouettes inside the Toronto 10 yard line. Three plays later, former Clemson Tigers pivot Tajh Boyd plunged in from one yard out to increase the lead to 15-3 heading into halftime.
The majority of the third quarter went by without incident with Mitchell Gale taking over the controls of the Argos offence and the Alouettes turning to Vernon Adams with four minutes left in the frame. Adams came to the Alouettes with no shortage of hype after being acquired for a first round pick. The Alouettes are hoping that he can mimic his success at Oregon where he passed for 2,643 yards and 26 touchdowns in his final season as a Duck.
His start was rocky to say the least – on his second play from scrimmage, a botched snap couldn’t be corralled and an Adams’ fumble quickly turned into six the other way when Argos rookie DB Josh Mitchell scooped up the loose ball and raced 57-yard down the sideline for a touchdown to close the gap to 15-9.
Adams would settle in with a little help from a Billy Parker interception that set the Alouettes up just outside the Argos’ redzone. Adams capitalize by scrambling right and tossing a 16-yard touchstone pass to sophomore receiver Cunningham to put the Montreal lead at 22-9 as the fourth quarter began.
Adams’ short stint was done there as Boyd took over the Als offence.
Boyd’s first drive stalled and his second ended prematurely when newcomer Aaron Berry picked off a pass and returned it to the Montreal 38 yard line. Gale completed a pass before handing off to RB Edwin Baker who punched in a 3-yard score to cut the Montreal advantage to 7 with just under eight minutes remaining.
The Argonauts will open the 2016 CFL schedule as they officially move into their new home at BMO Field, hosting the rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Meanwhile, the Alouettes will open the season in Winnipeg.