Alouettes score in all three phases to beat Edmonton Elks

EDMONTON — Every play can be a scoring play when you’re facing the Montreal Alouettes.

The Als scored on offence, defense and special teams to take down the Edmonton Elks 35-21 at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. Montreal had already secured second place in the East Division on Friday after the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lost to the BC Lions, but added two more points on their way to a 10-7 record with one more game left.

Jason Maas’ team was trailing 21-3 in the second quarter before scoring three majors and a field goal to take a 26-21 lead into halftime. The first touchdown came when quarterback Cody Fajardo connected with Tyson Philpot and was followed with a fumble returned for a score by Mustafa Johnson and a missed field goal that returner James Letcher Jr. brought back for a major to complete a three-phase effort for Montreal.

Fajardo finished 23 of 29 for 258 yards, a touchdown and an interception while running back Walter Fletcher added 95 yards from scrimmage.

Kicker Jose Maltos made all five of his field goals in the winning effort for the Alouettes.

Edmonton had a prolific first half on offence but struggled to move the ball in the second half as pivot Tre Ford completed 21 of 30 passes for 216 yards and two scores, both to wide receiver Kyran Moore. Backup signal-caller Taylor Cornelius scored on the ground as the Elks dropped to 4-13.

Two completions to receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux got the Elks moving on their first drive of the game. Ford added a first down scramble before finding Kevin Brown for 15 more yards all the way to Montreal’s 13-yard line. Moore then took a short pass from Ford and juked his way into the end zone for an early 7-0 in favour of the home team.

The Als responded on their next possession with a field goal. Fajardo completed three straight passes, but the last one ended up short of the sticks and kicker Jose Maltos made it 7-3.

Edmonton’s second drive was just as successful as the first one. Ford connected with wide receiver Gavin Cobb for 31 yards then found Dillon Mitchell down the right sideline for nine more yards. Cornelius entered the game for the second and inches and did more than just converted, scampering to the right and into the end zone for a 14-3 lead after the extra point by Dean Faithfull.

An offside penalty called against Montreal a few possessions later on a field goal attempt by Faithfull made it third-and-one and the Elks decided to go for it and keep the drive alive. Cornelius converted and the Elks parlayed the momentum into another touchdown, a screen pass from Ford to Moore who took advantage of the blocks in front of him to score. The major made it 21-3 with 7:03 to go in the half.

Montreal answered with Fajardo converting a third-and-two in Edmonton territory with a pass to receiver Cole Spieker to set up first-and-goal from the eight-yard line. The veteran pivot then connected with Philpot for his third score in three games to cut the lead to 21-10 with the extra point.

The very next play on offence for the Elks featured Montreal again finding a way to score on defence. Defensive lineman Lwal Uguak forced the fumble on Ford and Johnson returned it to the end zone for the touchdown to suddenly make it a one-score game late in the first half.

A fumble on the ensuing kickoff return – challenged unsuccessfully by Chris Jones – gave the Alouettes a chance to take the lead. Fajardo moved the chains with Austin Mack but two straight incompletions by the pivot brought in the field goal unit. Maltos split the uprights to continue a 17-0 run for the visitors that made the score 21-20 with under two minutes to go.

Faithfull had a chance to get the Elks some insurance points but instead the ball ended up going in the other direction. The kicker missed the field goal attempt and Letcher returned it all the way to the other end zone to take the first lead of the game for the visitors. Maltos missed the point after as Montreal led 26-21 going into halftime.

The Elks outgained the Alouettes 264-143 in the first half but lost the turnover battle 2-0.

Montreal got the ball first in the third quarter and extended their scoring run to 26 straight points. Fajardo guided a quick passing attack with Philpot and running back Jeshrun Antwi to move across midfield. A stop on second down by Jones’ defence forced a field goal attempt and Maltos pushed the lead to 29-21.

Edmonton’s offence was stuffed on third-and-one on their own 39-yard line to set up another field goal by Maltos from 32 yards out with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.

Defensive back Marloshawn Franklin Jr. intercepted a pass by Fajardo in the fourth quarter to stop another scoring possession.

The visitors added more points with a 16-yard field goal by Maltos for a final 35-21 score.

The Elks play their final game of the season on Saturday, October 21, against the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg. The Als get a week off before finishing the regular season on Saturday, October 28, against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Montreal.

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