Dominant Defence: Alouettes punch ticket to GC 110 with win over Toronto Argonauts

TORONTO — Led by the strength of their defence, the Montreal Alouettes have punched their ticket to the 110th Grey Cup.

The Alouettes defence forced eight turnovers at BMO Field, including four interceptions, two of which went for touchdowns, three turnovers on downs, and a fumble recovery in the 38-17 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo only needed to throw one touchdown pass in the win with his defence scoring twice on pick-sixes, James Letcher Jr. scoring on a kickoff return, and Jeshrun Antwi running in for a major. Fajardo connected on 18 of 25 passes for 175 yards, the major, and an interception in the win.

Toronto Argonauts back up quarterback Cameron Dukes scored a short yardage touchdown in the loss, while receiver DaVaris Daniels caught a pass from Chad Kelly for a major. Kelly connected on 21 of 36 passes for 246 yards, a touchdown, and four interceptions.

The win is Montreal’s seventh in a row, including last week’s Eastern Semi-Final victory against Hamilton, as they get set to head to Hamilton searching for their eighth in the 110th Grey Cup at Tim Hortons Field.

The Argos hit the field first, with AJ Ouellette taking the opening handoff for 19 yards. Following a loss of one yard from another Ouellette run, Dejon Brissett and Kelly connected for 16 yards before a 29-yard gain to Damonte Coxie brought Toronto down to the Montreal seven-yard line. Just as the drive was looking promising for the home team to get on the scoreboard, the Alouettes defence came up with a big play.

Marc-Antoine Dequoy picked the Argos pivot off and ran it back 101 yards for the pick-six. With the convert, Montreal took a 7-0 lead with 11 and a half minutes left in the first quarter.

Kelly and co. were held to a two-and-out on the ensuing drive, so Cody Fajardo hit the field for the first time of the afternoon. Fajardo and co. started moving down the field with a pair of first downs, but after Robbie Smith took down William Stanback in the backfield for a loss of three and then Shawn Oakman sacked Fajardo, the Als had to punt the ball away.

The Montreal defence continued to flex their muscles, forcing a second-straight Toronto two-and-out after Darnell Sankey knocked down a Kelly pass bringing up third down and a punt for the home team.

Toronto’s defence responded with another sack on the Als ensuing drive, as Oakman got to Fajardo for the second time of the game and forced the Als to punt away as well.

On the Argos’ next drive, the team started with three-straight plays to Ouellette; two rushes of 10 and six yards, respectively, and then a pass for an 18-yard gain. Following a three-yard run from Andrew Harris, Toronto set up on the Als nine-yard line as the first quarter expired.

As the second quarter began, Toronto went for it on third and one with Kelly staying in on the short yardage package. Again, Montreal’s defence made a big play, this time it was Tyrice Beverette that stopped the Argos pivot and forcing the turnover on downs.

Toronto’s defence made sure Fajardo and co. couldn’t cash in on the turnover, forcing the visitors to punt away after their third sack of the contest, this one from Brandon Barlow.

The Argos first points of the game with about nine minutes left in the second quarter as Boris Bede booted a 45-yard field goal. With the score, Toronto cut Montreal’s lead to 7-3.

Stanback’s biggest play of the game came on second down on the next drive, a gain of 25. Montreal stayed with Stanback on the next two plays, handing off for a gain of two and then passing to the running back for a gain of five, but were unable to get the first down. That brought David Cote to the field for a 46-yard field goal attempt. He was successful, adding to Montreal’s lead (10-3) with six minutes left in the half.

Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie threw his challenge flag on the Argos next drive, challenging that there was pass interference on DaVaris Daniels, who was covered by Wesley Sutton. It was successful and Dinwiddie won his first challenge of the season (he was 0-7 on challenges prior to this one) moving the sticks 18-yards on the penalty to the Montreal 49.

After two Ouellette runs, the Argos went for it once again on third and short. Kelly wasn’t able to get the fresh set with Montreal’s defence stuffing them once again and the Argos turned the ball over on downs.

With just under a minute left int he half, Toronto’s defence got their first interception with Tarvarus McFadden picking off a pass intended for Tyler Snead.

On the very next play after the turnover, Shawn Lemon knocked the ball out of Kelly’s hands and Sankey recovered it, brining the Als right back onto the field. Toronto’s defence added another two sacks on Fajardo on the final drive, the second of the game from Barlow and Oakman’s third, to close out the half.

After a Montreal punt to start the second half, Kelly threw his second interception of the contest, this one was picked off by Reggie Stubblefield.

The Als looked to cashed in on the turnover with a field goal as Cote connected on his 22-yard attempt, but after Oakman was penalized for unnecessary roughness during the kick, Fajardo and co. got a fresh set of downs and another chance to try to find the end zone.

Folarin Orimolade notched the sixth sack for Toronto’s defence on first down, but the next play Fajardo found Snead for the eight-yard touchdown. With the convert, Montreal extended their lead to 17-3 with nine and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

On Toronto’s ensuing drive, Kelly threw a third interception, this time to Sankey.

Orimolade got his second sack of the game, the seventh for the Argos defence, as Toronto held Montreal to just a field goal attempt on the turnover. Cote missed his 49-yard attempt as Toronto came away from the turnover unscathed.

Kelly and the offence hit the field on the next possession and Kelly threw another pick-six, as Kabion Ento picked off the pivot and ran it into the end zone for the score. With the completed convert, Montreal took a 24-3 lead with five and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

Just a few minutes into the fourth quarter, Kelly and the Argos offence were driving down the field to the Montreal 15-yard line. On third and inches, the offence stayed on the field with Cameron Dukes entering the game on the QB sneak and getting the first down.

On another third down on the drive, Toronto went for it from the Montreal five, as Ouellette rushed for one yard to get the fresh set. Ouellette ran once again, this time for four yards, to bring the Argos down to the one-yard line. Dukes came in on the short yardage package, ran around the edge and into the end zone for the major. With the completed convert, Toronto cut Montreal’s lead 24-10 with 10 minutes left in the game.

Any momentum going to the home team swung right back to the visitors as the ensuing kickoff was returned for a Montreal touchdown. James Letcher Jr. ran the ball 105 yards for the major score and with the convert, Montreal increased their lead 31-10.

Kelly found DaVaris Daniels on their next possession for the 54-yard touchdown and with the convert, Toronto cut Montreal’s lead to 31-17 with eight minutes left in the game.

An eighth turnover occurred late in the contest, as the Argos offence went for it on third down with two and a half minutes left but Kelly couldn’t connect with Daniels, giving the ball back to Fajardo on the Argos 13-yard line.

Jeshrun Antwi ran for a yard on first down before running for another 12 into the end zone for a major score. After the completed convert, Montreal increased their lead to 38-17 with 1:45 on the clock.

That would be the final score as the Alouettes got the victory and now turn their attention to next weekend’s 110th Grey Cup.

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