MONTREAL – That’s what the Alouettes organization needed, an inspired performance leading to overwhelming dominance of the opponent. To kick off their home season, the Montreal club won 37-13 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
After losing their first two games on the schedule by a small total of four points, the Alouettes (1-2) still couldn’t afford to start the year 0-3. The pressure would have been enormous on head coach Khari Jones and the players.
But under the influence of Trevor Harris, who was masterful in his first start in 2022, the Birds have reached the height they sought. The veteran quarterback has shown that he deserves to replace Vernon Adams Jr. as the starter.
Harris completed 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown pass to Kaion Julien-Grant early in the second quarter. To be honest, he would have even deserved a few more endings. In short, it was probably his best game since he joined the Alouettes last season to make up for Adams Jr.’s injury.
“It is a victory that is worth two points in the standings, but it gives a lot of confidence. With that said, we know the Riders will come back with a better effort at home, they had had a short week of preparation. So we will turn the page on this win like we did our two losses because the goal is still to get better week to week,” Harris wisely said.
“He brings a lot of confidence to the team, he’s been playing in the CFL for 10 years and still manages to accomplish a lot of things athletically. He manages to catch what is happening on the ground. He is a quality quarterback, we saw him in this game, he made very good decisions and he was not the victim of a turnover. He is going to continue to improve and the guys have responded well to his game,” Jones boasted.
We’d even go so far as to say that Adams Jr., who contracted COVID-19, may have worried about his fate while watching the game. But in recent years, the reality of the CFL is no longer the same when almost every team must use at least two quarterbacks during the season. However, his salary could be a concern in a backup role.
Since last season, the Alouettes had escaped too many close games by finding a way to make mistakes on certain plays. In this match, it would be difficult to target a player who struggled.
“It’s not because we just won a game that the other teams are going to say we’re back. We’re going to push the envelope even further next week,” Harris added.
Unfortunately, the weather conditions were not optimal to attract spectators on the day of the game. On the other hand, the quality of the spectacle on the field, in front of a crowd of 16,027 fans, should encourage fans to come to the next match.
Speaking of spectacle, Chandler Worthy was electrifying on kick returns. From the first play of the game, he set the tone for the night by rushing 88 yards for a touchdown. Not since 2013 has an Alouettes player scored a touchdown on a kickoff return in the regular season! He added several good returns for a total of 205 yards and it’s Mario Alford, still injured, who must be asking questions.
The defensive unit also shone as they stomped up the Riders’ front line with an impressive eight quarterback sacks. It should be noted that the Roughriders had had two days less to prepare than the Alouettes and fatigue seemed to weigh on their shoulders.
That said, a special mention goes to Brian Harelimana, who completed the first two sacks of his CFL career. He wanted to show that the absence of linebacker Chris Ackie would not be noticed.
“It is the performance that we expected and that we owed to our team. It is the presence that we must have every week, we have the team to do it”, assured Harelimana.
Marc-Antoine Dequoy added to this compelling performance with an interception that led to a touchdown. It was his first interception and his first touchdown in the CFL. Receiver Duke Williams gave him a nice treat by deflecting the ball up as he went down.
“We played at our level and I have to give credit to the crowd. The energy to play here with the fans is exceptional. They were there despite the temperature, I want to thank them. It was an important win, it really feels good and boosts morale,” agreed Dequoy.
Dequoy and Najee Murray, who had a strong game, narrowly missed an opportunity to intercept Cody Fajardo early in the game.
To complete the picture in style, kicker David Côté bounced back nicely after missing a decisive field goal in Toronto last week. He made all five field goal attempts, including one from 48 yards.
“I’m just thinking about the things we could have done better. That said, the defense was wonderful, it was very nice to see them play like that. The special teams were excellent, including Côté and Worthy. In attack, we achieved what we had to do. It was a great effort against a very good team,” Jones summed up.
The only downside was center Sean Jamieson hurt his right knee late in the game as the offensive line was about to end a great night.
It should be noted that running back William Stanback, injured in the first game, was present at the meeting. That was not possible for president Mario Cecchini and owner Gary Stern, who both contracted COVID-19.
Starting next Saturday, the two teams will cross swords again. This time at the Roughriders’ house.
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