Montreal Alouettes snap four-game losing streak with win over Stampeders

CALGARY — The Montreal Alouettes stopped a four-game losing streak with a 28-11 win over the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday at McMahon Stadium.

It was a close defensive battle in the first half before the Als pulled away in the second with a couple of turnovers by defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy that kept the Stampeders from scoring points for most of the final two quarters.

Montreal’s pivot Cody Fajardo was efficient through most of the afternoon and finished 22 of 29 for 252 yards, a major and a pick. The offensive line came into the game allowing a league-high 50 sacks but was able to keep Calgary’s defence away from Fajardo for all four quarters and running back William Stanback caught a late major that put the game away.

Former Dino Tyson Philpot had  four catches for 87 yards in his return to Calgary and backup quarterback Caleb Evans scored twice on the ground to help move the Alouettes to 7-7.

Defensive lineman Shawn Lemon also stood out for Montreal’s defence with a pick and two sacks to lead a dominant performance by the Als defensive line.

Stampeders’ quarterback Jake Maier was under pressure all game and finished 29 of 37 for 271 yards, a major and two interceptions. Receiver Reggie Begelton had 109 yards – going over 1,000 on the season – and a score in the losing effort for a Calgary team that dropped to 4-10.

The Stampeders started the game by moving the ball into Montreal territory but a promising first drive was stopped when Lemon jumped a pass by Maier to get his second interception of the season and send the Alouettes offence onto the field.

Fajardo then immediately connected with Philpot on a crossing route and the receiver was able to find a corner for a big gain across midfield. The drive stalled after that though with two incompletions by Montreal’s pivot forcing the team to punt the ball back.

Teams kept trading punts in the first quarter until a spearing penalty by linebacker Micah Awe gave the Als good field position. Fajardo and the offence took advantage by featuring Stanback on five straight plays to move the ball inside the 30 before the quarterback connected with receiver Austin Mack within the red zone. A tackle short of the sticks by Brad Muhammad on second down forced the Als to go for it and Evans entered the game for the short-yardage touchdown and a 7-0 lead in favour of the visitors early in the second quarter.

Maier and the Stamps offence continued to struggle in the first half as Wesley Sutton stopped another drive with a sack on a defensive back blitz off the edge. It was only late in the second quarter that the unit came to life with the quarterback guiding a quick passing game to move the ball into Montreal’s 30. Maier then found Begelton for 17 yards before connecting with William Langlais for 12 more and make it first-and-goal. From there all it took was one last short pass to No. 84 who broke the plane of goal and knotted things up at seven with under three minutes left in the second quarter.

Punter Joseph Zema put the Als ahead once more with a 67-yard boot and the Stampeders answered with their own rouge by Cody Grace on a 60-yard punt that made it 8-8 late in the first half.

There was still enough time for Fajardo and the offence to find a way to score points. The signal-caller threw a 22-yard strike to receiver Tyler Snead into double coverage all the way to Calgary’s 38-yard line. Two plays later kicker David Cote made his 35th field goal of the season to retake an 11-8 lead for the visitors.

Calgary almost tied the game again with kicker Rene Paredes but the veteran’s kick sailed to the right and returner Chandler Worthy took it out of the end zone as the Als kept their lead heading into halftime.

The second half began with a reverse script of the first. This time it was Montreal driving down the field and Calgary coming down with the interception when Nick Statz came flying in to catch a pass from Fajardo to give the Stamps offence great field position. The unit almost made the most of it by driving all the way to the three-yard line before Maier threw his second interception of the game. This time it was Dequoy with the turnover for the visitors that ended up being a turning point in the game.

The Als used the momentum from the takeaway to be aggressive on offence as Fajardo went deep to receiver Philpot for 51 yards and Evans sealed the deal with his second rushing major to extend the lead for Montreal.

Calgary answered with points. Maier threw to a wide-open Tre Odoms-Dukes for 41 yards but a sack by Lemon forced the home team to kick a short field goal to cut the lead to 18-11 early in the fourth quarter.

Montreal’s next possession also added points to the board when Cote converted a 35-yard attempt to push the lead back to 10 points with 8:44 left in the game.

The Stampeders were marching down the field once more when Dequoy forced his second turnover of the game by punching the ball out from Begelton’s hands and stopping yet another drive by the home team. The Als again got points off the takeaways by driving 60 yards and capping it off with a touchdown pass from Fajardo to Stanback to make it a three-score game late in the fourth quarter.

Lemon added his second sack of the game to turn the Stampeders over on downs with under two minutes left and cap off a dominant performance by the visitors.

The Alouettes will be back in action on Saturday, September 30, when they travel to Ottawa to face the REDBLACKS. Later that same day the Stampeders head to Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats to close out Week 17.

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