Canadian Football League

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Re-match of Canadian Football League giants goes to Alouettes

With Anthony Calvillo under centre, the Montreal Alouettes are one of the CFL's top passing teams. With Robert Edwards in the backfield, they're not bad running the football either.
Edwards rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown - his second straight 100-yard game - as Montreal defeated the Toronto Argonauts 18-10 on Friday night before a Rogers Centre gathering of 31,621.
''The offensive line is doing a great job of opening holes,'' Edwards said modestly. ''I'm just trying to take advantage by making the (first) guy miss, break tackles and get yards.''
Edwards earned his first CFL start last week with Eric Lapointe recovering from a hamstring injury. And the former first-round pick of the New England Patriots responded by rushing for 147 yards on 13 carries in the Alouettes'42-13 victory over Saskatchewan.

Edwards got off to a stellar start Friday night, running for 59 yards in the first quarter alone as the Alouettes finished the opening period with 25 offensive plays, compared to just five for Toronto.

''The coaches say the run is there,'' said Calvillo, who finished 22-of-32 passing for 223 yards. ''As long as we can keep walking away with victories we're going to keep feeding the guy the ball.''
Montreal (4-3) moved into a second-place tie with Toronto (4-3) in the East Division standings behind front-running Ottawa (5-3). The Alouettes also tied the season series 1-1, with the two teams meeting again Oct. 22 at Olympic Stadium. The Argos won the opener, 36-24 at Molson Stadium on July 28.
But Toronto quarterback Damon Allen nearly tarnished Edwards' performance.
Allen didn't start as he's nursing a bone bruise but replaced an ineffective Michael Bishop to open the third. He promptly led the Argos to a field goal before hitting Arland Bruce III on a 27-yard TD at 10:01 to cut Montreal's lead to 15-10.
Bishop had few answers for the Alouettes' swarming defence, completing 6-of-11 passes for 41 yards and an interception.
Allen had the fans on their feet in the dying seconds, moving the Argos to Montreal's 32-yard line with 14 seconds remaining but couldn't come up with the tying touchdown. Allen finished 21-of-30 passing for 246 yards with a TD and an interception.
The contest was the fourth straight that the Argos have drawn 25,000-plus spectators, the first time that's happened since '91.
''I was disappointed we felt we had to go to Damon,'' said Toronto coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons. ''I felt (Bishop) could've done it in the second half but Damon has the set of skills that gives us the best chance of winning.
''This is a veteran team that knows how to adjust when Damon comes in.''
Allen certainly had the Alouettes sweating.
''Obviously he is a great quarterback and has beat us before,'' said Montreal defensive tackle Ed Philion. ''I think the fact he came in hurt in the second half gave them a spark and once we got our footing down we played a little better.
''It's good to send a message because we've lost two times in a row (including last year's East final) to this team and three times seems to be a trend. It was important for us to come into their place and return the favour.''
Montreal forced four Argos turnovers - two interceptions, a fumble and on downs - and registered three sacks, clear signs the Alouettes rugged defence is finding its stride after being plagued by early inconsistency.
''I don't think we really knew our identity,'' Philion said of the early struggles. ''Finally, now we're all on the same page in what we want to do as a defence.
''It makes it a lot easier for us but it's still early in the season. We've got to take it for what it's worth, it's game No. 7.''
Montreal finished minus kicker-punter Damon Duval, who was ejected with Toronto's Mike Crumb in the fourth for an altercation while covering an Argos kickoff return. Slotback Dave Stalla handled punting duties - averaging 40 yards on two boots - and also had eight catches for 103 yards.
''I'm not surprised because Dave has been doing that every week for us, filling in at different spots,'' said Calvillo. ''He's a pretty good athlete.''
Montreal coach Don Matthews merely shrugged his shoulders when asked about Edwards and Stalla stepping up Friday.
''That's exactly what they're supposed to do,'' he said.
Duval had a convert, three field goals and two singles.
Toronto's Noel Prefontaine booted a convert and two field goals.
Notes - Linebacker Antonious Bonner returned to Toronto's lineup after missing five games with back spasms . . . With all-star slotback Ben Cahoon out with a fractured wrist and elbow, Stalla took his place in the Alouettes' starting lineup . . . Montreal lost offensive lineman Paul Lambert to a thigh contusion and knee injury. Matthews figures Lambert will be out at least one game, meaning Dave Mudge, acquired last month from Winnipeg, will move into the starting lineup now.


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