Alouettes’ season sinking fast after lopsided loss to Lions
VANCOUVER — A quarterback change failed to be the antidote the Alouettes needed to help their flagging offence. And now their defence has started to take on water.
Montreal’s miseries on the West Coast continued Friday night, the Als outscored 38-27 by the British Columbia Lions before 18,107 spectators at BC Place.
Although the Als won here last season — with Rakeem Cato at quarterback — that marked their first victory at the domed facility since 2000. Cato, of course, was replacing the benched Kevin Glenn against the Lions.
The Als were held to one offensive touchdown for the second consecutive game and lost their third straight. Montreal remains last in the East Division, with a 3-8 record and will soon be out of playoff contention.
B.C., meanwhile, improved to 8-3. The Lions now have won one more game than they did in 2015. They were paced by Jeremiah Johnson’s two touchdowns. Johnson rushed for more than 150 yards.
After the Als were held without a first down on their opening possession, Chris Rainey, who played for Montreal, returned the punt 35 yards to the visitor’s 43.
Johnson gained 23 yards on a run up the middle. Two plays later, after quarterback Jonathon Jennings was hit for a five-yard loss, he passed 25 yards to Emmanuel Arceneaux for a touchdown at 3:36. Johnson ran the ball into the end zone for a two-point convert and, just like that, the Lions led 8-0.
Following a 33-yard kickoff return by Stefan Logan, Cato engineered an impressive drive. Indeed, Cato completed all seven of his pass attempts on the drive, including a 21-yarder to Duron Carter that the Als had to challenge. But the drive eventually stalled deep in red zone and Montreal settled for Anthony Fera’s 12-yard field goal at 8:47.
Jennings then engineered a six-play, 72-yard drive, the Lions scoring on their second possession. The drive included a 24-yard pass to Shawn Gore, who played collegiately at Bishop’s, along with a 19-yard run by Jennings. Following a 10-yard pass to Bryan Burnham, Johnson ran 12 yards up the middle for a touchdown at 12:12 and a 15-3 B.C. lead.
Johnson was playing for the first time in three games, having sat out a two-game Ontario swing while the team utilized Anthony Allen out of the backfield.
A Montreal Alouettes fan hides his face with a plastic bag while watching the team play the B.C. Lions during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016.
A Montreal Alouettes fan hides his face with a plastic bag while watching the team play the B.C. Lions during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS
As the opening quarter came to and end, the Lions made it three-for-three on possessions ending in touchdowns. This time, the home team went 67 yards in six plays.
On the opening play of the second period, Rainey scampered for a 33-yard gain, linebacker Winston Venable missing the tackle. Two plays later, a pass to Burnham was good for 22 yards. From there, Johnson scored on a one-yard run at 1:47.
Richie Leone missed the convert, but the Lions still were comfortably ahead 21-3.
Passes of 16 yards to Geraldo Boldewijn and 41 yards to Burnham moved the ball to the Als’ nine-yard line later in the quarter. But the defence finally buckled down, forcing Leone and the Lions to settle for a 17-yard field goal at 11:09 and a 24-3 advantage.
The Als then decided to make a change to their offensive line, replacing left-tackle Jacob Ruby with Phillip Blake. Kristian Matte slid over to left guard, while Luc Brodeur-Jourdain entered the game and played his customary position at centre.
And, for what it’s worth, the Als coincidentally scored on the drive — Fera kicking a 42-yard field goal at 13:54. That sent the teams to their respective dressing room with the Lions leading, 24-6.
The second half began in familiar fashion — Johnson gaining 26 yards on the opening play to the Montreal 47. But two plays later, Boldewijn fumbled a pass when hit by rookie cornerback Jonathon Mincy. The ball was recovered by linebacker Chip Cox, who returned it 58 yards for a touchdown after only 56 seconds.
It was the first touchdown of the season by Montreal’s defence — the sixth of Cox’s career.
That should have provided Montreal with some momentum, but the Lions answered back immediately, going on a 12-play, 76-yard drive. The drive included passes covering 12 yards to Arceneaux, 11 to Boldewijn, another 15 yarder to Arceneaux and a 21 yarder to Burnham.
Following an 18-yard pass to Rainey, combined with a horse-collar tackle against Venable, Lulay scored on a one-yard run at 7:31.
That gave the Lions at 31-13 lead — and Montreal’s offence had yet to run a play in the second half.
The Als then subsequently went two-and-out. Ruby was back at left-tackle.
Montreal finally generated some offence as the third quarter came to an end. Cato passed 19 yards to Nik Lewis and 16 yards to tailback Tyrell Sutton. Receiver Duron Carter, on the halfback option, then completed a 37-yard pass to B.J. Cunningham to the Lions’ 27-yard line.
But the drive stalled and the period ended with Fera’s 33-yard field goal on the final play, making the score 31-16.
Fera kicked a 29-yard field goal almost six minutes into the fourth quarter, but it mattered little. That’s because Johnson scored on a 26-yard sweep at 9:17, giving the Lions a comfortable 38-19 cushion.
Just when it appeared the Als would go yet another game without scoring an offensive touchdown — a recurring theme this season — Cato passed 26 yards to Lewis at 10:49. He then passed to Kenny Stafford for a two-point convert, narrowing the deficit to 11 points.
Montreal’s next game is Friday night, at Hamilton.