MONTREAL – The Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes renewed their historic playoff rivalry on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Stadium with a spot in the 100th Grey Cup hanging in the balance.
The Argonauts would open the game with possession of the football but did not control it for long as Chad Kackert fumbled on the team’s second offensive play of the game. Alouettes defensive tackle, Olli Ogbu would recover and give the Als’ great field position early on in the first quarter.
Sean Whyte would capitalize on the Argonauts turnover as he connected on a 25-yard field goal to give the Alouettes an early 3-0 lead.
On the ensuing Argonauts’ offensive possession, Jarious Jackson would get stuffed on third down, resulting in a turnover and placing the Alouettes at midfield. Chris Jennings would convert the turnover into points as he marched 18 yards into the end zone, extending Montreal’s lead to 10-0.
The Argonauts’ would finally get on the board with a 22-yard Swayze Waters field goal late in the first quarter, cutting the deficit to 10-3.
Noel Prefontaine’s first punt attempt of the second quarter would bounce into Montreal’s end zone, resulting in a single-point, cutting the Als’ lead to 10-4.
Later on in the quarter, Ricky Ray would lead the Argonauts down to the Montreal one-yard line, where their impressive drive would stall as they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone on three consecutive running plays. The turnover on downs was the Argonauts’ third turnover of the half.
Deep in their own territory Montreal elected to surrender a safety in order to avoid giving up good field position to Toronto’s potent offence.
On the ensuing Argonauts’ offensive possession, Noel Prefontaine would record his second rouge of the first half, cutting the Alouettes lead to 10-7 with just under two minutes remaining in the second quarter.
However, that was still plenty of time for Anthony Calvillo as he orchestrated an efficient three-play, 75-yard drive capped off by Adrian McPherson’s one-yard touchdown plunge, extending the Alouettes lead to 17-7.
Swayze Waters would connect on a 12-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half to make it 17-10 heading into halftime.
On the Argonauts opening drive of the second half, Ricky Ray would orchestrate a six-play, 101-yard touchdown drive capped off Dontrelle Inman’s two-yard touchdown reception. The big play on the drive came courtesy of Chad Owens who rumbled down to the Alouettes two-yard line following an incredible 70+-yard reception.
Turnovers definitely tell the story in any football game and that holds true with regards to Sunday’s Eastern Division Final.
The Montreal Alouettes were able to record just ten points off of Toronto’s four turnovers in the football game.
The Argonauts would finally get their first turnover of the game in the third quarter as Marcus Ball intercepted Anthony Calvillo, putting an abrupt end to Montreal’s offensive drive.
Chad Kackert would capitalize on the Alouettes turnover as he rumbled 49 yards into the end zone, putting the Argonauts’ in the lead for the first time in the game, 24-17.
With momentum heavily shifting to the Argonauts, the Alouettes converted a fake punt attempt as Chip Cox scrambled up the field to record a much-needed first down. Sean Whyte’s 11-yard field goal would cut the Als’ deficit to 24-20.
A scary moment for Alouettes fans as Marc-Olivier Brouillette suffered a serious neck injury on a kickoff return early on in the fourth quarter. Brouillette was immediately taken to hospital for further treatment.
Chad Kackert continued his dominating second half as he ran 51 yards deep into Alouettes territory setting up a 35-yard Swayze Waters field goal, extending the Argos’ lead to 27-20.
On the ensuing Montreal offensive possession, Pacino Horne would strip receiver Eric Deslauriers of the football, stalling the Alouettes long drive.
However, Andre Durie would give Montreal renewed life as he fumbled with under 2:30 remaining in the game. Billy Parker would secure possession for the Alouettes and give Anthony Calvillo an opportunity to tie the game.
Calvillo was attempting to thread the football into a tight window as was intercepted by Marcus Ball for the second time in the half.
Calvillo would receive another chance as he got the ball back with 1:17 remaining. In the final seconds of the game, Calvillo found Brian Bratton wide open in the end zone but Bratton was unable to come up with it, securing the Eastern Final victory for the Argonauts.
The Argonauts will be making their first appearance in the Grey Cup since the 2004 CFL season. The Boatmen will have the unique opportunity of playing in front of their home fans as the Rogers Centre is set to host the 100th Grey Cup on next Sunday.
Ricky Ray was nothing short of spectacular on Sunday afternoon as he completed 28-of-30 passes for 399 yards, and one touchdown.
Chad Owens led the way in the receiving game for the Argos’ as he recorded eleven catches for 207 yards.
Chad Kackert rushed for a game high 139 yards on thirteen carries including a 49-yard touchdown in the Argonauts’ key third quarter.
Argos’ linebacker, Robert McCune led all defensive players with eight tackles and one sack. Following Montreal’s ten-point first quarter, the Argonauts’ defence was able to virtually shut down Anthony Calvillo and the Alouettes talented offence.
Marcus Ball’s two interceptions on Sunday put him at the top of the CFL with three interceptions during the 2012 playoffs.
– Daniele Franceschi –