Alouettes clinch playoff spot with road win over Ottawa REDBLACKS

OTTAWA — The Montreal Alouettes will be playing on November 4 after securing their spot in the Eastern Semi-Finals with a 32-15 win over the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Saturday.

Montreal dominated the action in the first three quarters, leading 22-0 entering the fourth before defensive lineman Shawn Lemon‘s fumble return for a touchdown all but sealed the deal for the Alouettes.

Defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy also scored for the Als with a 109-yard pick six in the third quarter that ended Ottawa’s most promising drive up to that point in the game.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo connected for a major with wide receiver Tyson Philpot and running back William Stanback added a touchdown of his own as the Alouettes moved to 8-7 to punch their ticket to the post-season.

Ottawa’s pivot Dustin Crum was under pressure all game against Montreal’s blitz-heavy system and was intercepted twice while also suffering the fumble that Lemon scooped for a major as the REDBLACKS dropped to 4-11.

Backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome and running back Devonte Williams added a major each on the ground in the losing effort for Ottawa.

The home team went two-and-out to open the game and gave the visitors a chance to strike first. Fajardo led Montreal’s offence 80 yards down the field by involving his playmakers like wide receivers Regis Cibasu and Philpot. The highlight of the drive was a 24-yard touchdown run by Stanback who found a seam over the left side and took it to the house for an early 7-0 lead in favour of the Alouettes.

The REDBLACKS took the field on their next possession determined to run the ball. Crum took off after a play-action fake to gain 24 yards on the first play of the drive before Williams added 16 more to make it first-and-goal from the 10. All was going well until defensive tackle Mustafa Johnson beat a double-team block to get to Crum and force an errand pass that was picked off in the end zone by Als’ defensive back Reggie Stubblefield to finish off the march.

James Letcher Jr. brought a punt back 30 yards to Ottawa’s 46-yard line and the Als moved the ball into David Cote’s range for a field goal attempt. The veteran kicker missed it to the right and Brandin Dandridge returned the ball all the way to midfield but punter Joseph Zema was able to force a fumble with his feet that was recovered by Cibasu to give possession back to the Alouettes. Fajardo and the offence did not capitalize on the takeaway though as both defences continued to get the best of the offences in the first half.

It was Montreal that found a way to get back to scoring when Fajardo got things going with a long pass to receiver Cole Spieker across midfield. It was enough to get back into Cote’s range but the kicker missed it again to the left while adding a single for the visitors to make it 8-0 with 4:06 left in the second quarter.

Ottawa attempted a fake on a punt play to get its offence going but the Als were ready for it and stopped Ante Milanovic-Litre short of the sticks for a turnover on downs with under three minutes to go. It ended up being a costly mistake as Montreal leveraged the field position into points. Fajardo converted a crucial second-and-10 with his feet before throwing a pass to Philpot just beyond the outstretched hands of the defender for a 19-yard touchdown and a 15-0 lead late in the first half.

The visitors were able to contain the REDBLACKS offence with a defensive scheme that had defensive backs coming off the edge to make Crum uncomfortable for the first two quarters of the game, highlighted by three first-half sacks for Montreal.

The third quarter began with both teams trading punts until Ottawa found a way to move into Alouettes territory. Crum completed five of six passes on the drive all the way to Montreal’s eight-yard line until Dequoy got in front of a pass on third down and returned it 109 yards to the other end zone to extend the lead for the visitors to 22-0 after the extra point.

Ottawa finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter with a one-yard run by Pigrome. The major capped off a 57-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 29-yard pass interference penalty on Dionte Ruffin in coverage against receiver Shaq Evans in the end zone as Montreal led 22-7 with 14:29 to go in the game.

Letcher Jr. had another big return for the visitors in the fourth bringing the ball back 50 yards and into Ottawa territory. The field position was parlayed by the Alouettes into Cote’s third field goal attempt of the game and this time the veteran kicker split the uprights for a 25-7 lead.

The defence showed up for Montreal once more later in the quarter when a fumble by Crum was returned by Lemon to the end zone for the Alouettes second defensive touchdown of the game.

Crum responded with two long completions of 25 and 26 yards to move the ball into Montreal’s side of the field and two unnecessary roughness penalties by the Alouettes had the REDBLACKS with first-and-goal. Williams was the one called upon as Ottawa scored their second touchdown of the game.

Cote missed his third attempt of the game with under two minutes left as the score remained 32-15 in favour of the visitors.

Next up for both teams is a rematch on Thanksgiving Weekend presented by Purolator set for Monday, October 9, at Molson Stadium in Montreal.

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