Sports: Alouettes' turn to try and hand Blue Bombers their first loss of the season

It was wild and crazy, but the Alouettes somehow found a way to beat the winless Redblacks

  It was wild and crazy, but the Alouettes somehow found a way to beat the winless Redblacks OTTAWA — It was a game that had a bit of everything, including plenty of scoring and big plays, along with some dubious officiating. And the outcome was in doubt until the final seconds. The Alouettes, notorious for squandering leads this season , had a 14-point advantage over the winless Ottawa Redblacks with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But it appeared even that lead might not be safe after the home side scored a touchdown slightly more than two minutes later. Montreal then failed to generate a first down and, with 1:59 remaining, saw the Redblacks drive from their 11 to the Montreal 24 before the drive stalled on third down.

It's now up to Trevor Harris and the Montreal Alouettes to try and accomplish something no other CFL team has so far this season.

  Alouettes' turn to try and hand Blue Bombers their first loss of the season © Provided by The Canadian Press

Montreal (2-5) hosts Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg (8-0) on Thursday to open a home-and-home series. The Bombers remain the CFL's only unbeaten squad.

Winnipeg is coming off a 35-28 road win over Calgary on Saturday night. The victory was not only the Bombers' second over the Stampeders this season but their first at McMahon Stadium since November 2017.

Winnipeg starter Zach Collaros threw for 270 yards and four TDs touchdowns. The CFL's outstanding player last season is the league's passing leader (1,994 yards) and stands second in touchdown passes (15) with just five interceptions.

Alouettes returner Worthy uses 'worst game of my life' to fuel fire

  Alouettes returner Worthy uses 'worst game of my life' to fuel fire The tedious affair lasted more than three hours. And it must have felt longer for Chandler Worthy after the Alouettes’ return specialist fumbled three times last week in Ottawa. But after playing what he called “the worst game of my life,” Worthy only wished he’d had one more opportunity to make a difference. “That game wasn’t long enough,” Worthy said Tuesday. “I wanted an opportunity to turn the tide and keep it going. I knew (turnovers) couldn’t happen forever. Sometimes unfortunate things keep compiling throughout a game. I had to wipe the slate clean and I’m excited to do that this week. “That was a moment that could wake me up,” he added.

But as impressive was the emergence of Winnipeg's ground game, which accounted for 160 yards on 22 carries (7.3-yard average). Brady Oliveira ran 15 times for a game-high 110 yards in the contest.

Calgary's rushing game was solid against Winnipeg's stout defence, accounting for 139 yards on 24 carries (5.8-yard average). Ka'Deem Carey had 92 yards on 14 carries (6.6-yard average) and scored two touchdowns.

Now, if Als running back William Stanback was healthy, Calgary's rushing success against Winnipeg would certainly provide food for thought. But Stanback remains on the injured list and without him Montreal's ground attack stands sixth in the CFL (90 yards per game).

Montreal had 90 yards rushing in last week's 24-17 road loss to Hamilton. Harris had the Alouettes poised to at the very least force overtime when he marched the offence to the Tiger-Cats 21-yard line in the dying seconds.

Als' Murray, Bombers' Collaros have mutual admiration from their days at Steubenville High

  Als' Murray, Bombers' Collaros have mutual admiration from their days at Steubenville High When quarterback Zach Collaros was leading Steubenville High to consecutive Division III state titles in 2005-06, he never once went thirsty. Coincidentally, one of the Big Red’s water boys was Najee Murray , now an Alouettes defensive back. “He’s a great player who has honoured Steubenville well,” Murray said following Tuesday’s practice. “I always looked up to Collaros and I always idolized him. He was a guy who came from our city. He was the only one at that time who got an opportunity to play professional. He paved the way for a lot of us. I have the utmost respect for him.

But following Harris's 17-yard rush, the CFL's neutral medical spotter removed Harris from the game. Backup Dominique Davis came in for the last play and was intercepted by Kameron Kelly, thus preserving Hamilton's victory.

Harris was limited in practice Sunday with a back injury but was a full participant Monday and Tuesday.

Despite last week's loss, Montreal is tied for second in the East with Hamilton (2-5). The Alouettes are 1-2 under interim coach/GM Danny Maciocia, but that's of no concern to owner Gary Stern, who took to social media this week to say his team will indeed defeat the Bombers.

It has certainly been a grind thus far for Winnipeg, which has yet to have a bye week. And the Bombers are on the road for a third straight week.

But Winnipeg has shown tremendous resilience and a knack for finding ways to win, even when not at its best. The same can't be said about Montreal, though.

The Alouettes had a great game against the Blue Bombers — for 15 minutes

  The Alouettes had a great game against the Blue Bombers — for 15 minutes The eternal optimist will suggest the Alouettes were able to play against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers — the best team in the CFL — at home for 41 minutes on Thursday night. But the realist will look at the final score — 35-20 for the undefeated (9-0), two-time defending Grey Cup champions — and admit the Als simply aren’t good enough. The Bombers know how to win, while the Als continue searching for answers. Montreal has struggled in the third quarter this season, but outscored Winnipeg 11-7 during that 15-minute sequence. That meant the teams were tied 14-14 heading into the pivotal final frame, when the Als imploded, finding yet another way to lose while being outscored, 21-6.

Pick: Winnipeg

Calgary Stampeders versus Ottawa Redblacks (Friday night)

At Ottawa, the Redblacks (1-6) are coming off their first win of the season, a 23-13 decision in Toronto. Caleb Evans finished 24-of-29 passing for 286 yards and two TDs while Jaelon Acklin had seven catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. However, the squad is 0-4 versus the West Division. Last week's loss dropped Calgary (4-2) to third in its division and Carey (hamstring) didn't practise Monday or Tuesday. Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 219 yards against Winnipeg but has surrendered just three interceptions this season.

Pick: Calgary

Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus Toronto Argonauts (Saturday night)

At Toronto, the bitter rivals not only open a home-and-home series but a stretch that will see them play four times over a five-week span. And given Hamilton (2-5) is just two points behind the front-running Argos (3-3) in the East, it will be an important stretch for both. The Ticats rotated starter Dane Evans and backup Matt Shiltz against Montreal, something the home team must be aware of as it looks to shake off last week's disappointing loss to Ottawa.

Pick: Toronto.

Edmonton Elks versus B.C. Lions (Saturday night)

At Vancouver, veteran receiver Bryan Burnham (ribs) was a full participant Tuesday at practice for the Lions (5-1). That's bad news for opposing defences given the Lions rolled up 433 offensive yards in last week's 32-17 win over Saskatchewan. Quarterback Nathan Rourke threw for 336 yards and two TDs while rushing for another. Edmonton (2-5) will be rested coming in off the bye and eager to avenge its season-opening 59-15 loss at B.C. Place Stadium. The Elks have shown signs of improvement lately but …

Pick: B.C.

Last week: 2-2.

CP's overall record: 25-6.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Could Als' improbable win at Winnipeg turn their disappointing season around? .
WINNIPEG — We won’t know until the final chapter is written on this Alouettes’ season what a victory like this might mean in the grand scheme. But this much can’t be debated: For the second consecutive week, the Als played tough against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, arguably the CFL’s best team. But unlike last week, when Montreal imploded in the fourth quarter and couldn’t finish the deal, this time it persevered. It required some good fortune, along with a brutal performance by Bombers kicker Marc Liegghio, but the Als defeated Winnipeg 20-17 in overtime Thursday night at IG Field.

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