The Montreal Alouettes snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday in a game that meant nothing in the standings but did wonders for restoring the team's swagger.
Ben Cahoon posted his first career three-touchdown day to lead the Alouettes to a whopping 52-21 victory over the Ottawa Renegades at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
"This one was important for us to stop the bleeding and next week we have to carry it on,"' said Cahoon. "I think you saw Alouette football. Everyone was involved in the offence."
Cahoon's breakout ended a personal 10-game scoring drought. It also helped rejuvenate a Montreal club that had lost its air of invincibility following three straight defeats.
Kwame Cavil, Eric Lapointe, Kelly Malveaux and Jeremaine Copeland also added touchdowns to thrill the 53,302 in attendance.
The Alouettes' final regular-season home game of 2004 was shifted from the team's regular home field at Percival Molson Stadium to the Big O to allow more than double the amount of supporters to cheer on the team.
"It makes it almost impossible to lose with that kind of energy and noise," Cahoon said of the near-sellout crowd. "I'm just glad that everybody got a chance to enjoy it."
"I was screaming just to make my calls," said quarterback Anthony Calvillo.
The Alouettes achieved CFL history on Saturday when Thyron Anderson surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season. He joined Cahoon, Cavil and Copeland in the 1,000-yard club, marking the first time four receivers from the same team have achieved the feat.
"We don't get the media glorifying our unit much," said Cavil. "It's mostly B.C. and Edmonton and with all respect, they do have great units. But we kind of feel that we're pretty good, too."
Calvillo had another strong day at the office, going 26-for-37 in the air with 407 yards and three touchdowns to just one interception. He was relieved by seldom-used backup Ted White midway through the fourth quarter.
The game got off to a sloppy start with three turnovers in the opening five minutes. Ottawa coughed the ball up twice, while Montreal surrendered it once.
Montreal eventually opened the scoring at 7:24 of the first with a 15-yard field goal by Matt Kellett.
Cahoon then nabbed his first touchdown of the day with a 15-yard score in the final minute of the first to give the Alouettes a 10-0 advantage. The major capped an impressive nine-play, 98-yard drive by the Montreal offence.
The Renegades wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the second stanza. Quarterback Brad Banks and fullback Sean Bennett â a pair of rookies â connected on a 42-yard scoring play to make it 10-7 Montreal.
Banks evaded Montreal defensive pressure and scrambled out of trouble to find an open Bennett streaking to the end zone.
Cahoon added his second touchdown of the game, a 44-yard strike from Calvillo, later in the quarter to restore the 10-point Montreal lead.
The Alouettes padded their lead with a pair of touchdowns before the half came to a close. Cavil, working out of the backfield, scored on a 23-yard rushing play before Kelly Malveaux picked off Banks in the final two minutes for a 63-yard touchdown return.
The Renegades looked like they'd make a game of it in the third quarter when Yo Murphy hauled in a one-handed 85-yard touchdown reception in Ottawa's longest play from scrimmage this season.
Ottawa then recovered a short kick but killed any potential momentum by swiftly turning the ball over. The miscue led to the third Cahoon touchdown of the afternoon. The rout was on.
Montreal finishes its regular season with a Thursday road contest versus the Toronto Argonauts. The Alouettes have already locked up top spot in the division and will host the CFL East final at Olympic Stadium on Nov. 14.
Ottawa, already eliminated from the post-season, rounds out the season next Saturday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CBC, 2:30 p.m. ET).
Montreal coach Don Matthews became a Canadian citizen on Saturday when he was sworn in by immigration judge George Springate, a former Alouette, during a ceremony at centre field before the start of the game.
with files from Canadian Press