Caleb Evans leads Montreal Alouettes past Saskatchewan in first start of the season

MONTREAL — Quarterback Caleb Evans started in place of Cody Fajardo and led the Montreal Alouettes to a 41-12 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday at Molson Stadium.

Evans scored two rushing majors to go alongside a passing score to receiver Austin Mack in his first start of the season. Fajardo dressed as Montreal’s third quarterback with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder he suffered last week in the game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Running back Walter Fletcher also started in place of injured William Stanback and finished with 129 total yards, including a 68-yard connection with his pivot through the air. Backfield partner Jeshrun Antwi added a running major in the winning effort for the 5-3 Alouettes.

Linebacker Tyrice Beverette returned a fumble for a score in the fourth to cap off a dominating performance for Jason Maas’ team.

Quarterback Mason Fine went down with an injury and had to be replaced by backup Jake Dolegala halfway through the second quarter. The backup finished with a rushing major but also threw an interception as the Roughriders dropped to 4-5.

Kicker Brett Lauther made both of his field goal attempts for the Riders.

Evans showcased his dual-threat ability right off the bat by putting together a scoring drive to open the game. Montreal’s pivot connected with receiver Tyler Snead for 15 yards before amassing two carries that went for 30 yards, the final one a two-yard touchdown run that put the home team ahead 7-0.

Later in the quarter the Roughriders got the ball in good field position after their defence forced the Als to punt from deep into their own territory and turned it into points. After a couple of runs by Morrow for 17 yards, the Riders faced second-and-six from Montreal’s 24 but were unable to convert. Lauther came in to cut the lead to 7-3 with 3:18 left in the first quarter.

Evans and the Alouettes struck again early in the second quarter. Fletcher caught a 68-yard screen pass and his pivot finished the job with a quarterback sneak to push the lead to 14-3.

Fine went down with an injury after sliding on a scramble halfway through the second quarter and was replaced by Dolegala. The backup threw an interception to defensive back Kabion Ento on his second pass that gave Evans the Als the ball at Saskatchewan’s 26-yard line. Montreal’s pivot immediately threw a pick of his own to defensive back Amari Henderson to keep the score unchanged.

Montreal had one more scoring possession before halftime. Kicker David Côté split the uprights with 1:43 to go in the second quarter to extend the margin to 17-3 going into halftime.

Evans started the second half the same way he did the first: with a touchdown march. Chandler Worthy returned the ball close to midfield before Montreal’s quarterback threw a perfectly placed pass to Mack who juked a defender for a 56-yard major that made it 24-3.

Defensive end Shawn Lemon got to Dolegala for a sack in the third quarter, his third in three games with the Alouettes.

Montreal added to the lead in the third quarter as Antwi rushed through the middle of Saskatchewan’s defence for 19 yards and the major as the Alouettes kept control of the game with a 31-3 lead with under two minutes left in the third quarter.

Lauther added three points for Saskatchewan early in the fourth with a 44-yard field goal.

Beverette’s fumble-return touchdown made it 38-6 as the Alouettes continued their dominant performance at home.

Dolegala scored the Roughriders’ only major of the game with 5:47 to go in the fourth on a quarterback sneak that cut the lead to 38-12 after an unsuccessful two-point conversion.

Côté added his second field goal of the night to complete the win for the home team.

The Als moved within one win of the Toronto Argonauts (6-1) for first place in the East Division while Saskatchewan remains in third place behind the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-2) and BC Lions (6-2).

Montreal’s next matchup comes next Saturday, Aug. 19, against the REDBLACKS in Ottawa. Meanwhile the Riders return home to face the BC Lions on Sunday, Aug. 20 to close out Week 11.

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