Alouettes off to Grey Cup after devouring Lions
Montreal defence produces 6 turnovers, 4 sacks
Sometimes games do come as advertised.
The Montreal Alouettes are off to the Grey Cup for the seventh time this century after doing the expected — kicking the stuffing out of the B.C. Lions, 56-18, in the crossover East final on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Stadium.
Now they have to try winning the CFL championship, something they've done just once in their previous six tries.
All week, the talk had been whether a reborn Lions quarterback Casey Printers, in late in the season because three other pivots had bad shoulders, would cause trouble for the Als' defence.
People wondered if Montreal pivot Anthony Calvillo and his offence would be hurt by a two-week layoff and not having played an important game in months.
They also wondered if beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the semifinal meant the 8-10 Lions were a serious threat to a Montreal club that went 9-0 at home, 15-3 overall.
"They're very good when we make mistakes like that," Printers said Sunday. "When we give them 21 points off turnovers and give them short field after short field, it makes them look better than they actually are.
"We just didn't play up to the standards of the B.C. Lions ball club, and because of that, we gave them every advantage to make plays."
Jamel Richardson caught two balls for touchdowns and ran in a blocked punt for another to lead the Alouettes. Brian Bratton added a pair of pass-and-run majors for Montreal, playing in front of 53,792 fans.
Calvillo threw for more than 300 yards and five touchdowns, the latter tying five other quarterbacks for the league playoff record.
Printers, who didn't even have a job before September, completed 20 of 40 passes for 234 yards, but was under fire all game. His throws were often rushed or he was pressured to force attempts into tight coverage.
"They made sure every corner of the field was covered for our wide receivers," Printers said. "It made it tough trying to throw the football down the field."
The Alouettes sacked Printers three times and caused five turnovers, four of them producing touchdowns.
Lions briefly back in
Leading 31-11 at halftime, the Als gave the Lions a little hope thanks to a 105-yard punt return for a touchdown by Ryan Grice-Mullin early in the third quarter that narrowed the lead to 13 points.
But that seemed only to invigorate Montreal in front of a near sellout at the indoor stadium they use just for playoffs and Grey Cup hosting.
On the ensuing drive, Calvillo calmly took his club down to the 20, using passes and scampering 23 yards himself before hitting Bratton for the receiver's second major.
After B.C. was pinned in its own zone, punter Paul McCallum was blocked and the ball was carried into the end zone by Richardson for a 45-18 margin before the third quarter was over.
A turnover by backup quarterback Travis Lulay in the game's final minute led to a John Bowman dash for the final Als' touchdown of the day.
"Two turnovers back to back and two blown coverages back to back, then all of a sudden that's a lot of points," said Lions head coach Wally Buono. "With the game here, the atmosphere of the crowd, the intensity of it all, that's hard to overcome.
"You almost have to be perfect, which against a team like this, you're not going to be perfect."
Turnovers kill B.C.
In the opening 30 minutes, Montreal took advantage of two key B.C. turnovers to help build a 31-11 halftime.
With the score tied 3-3 and B.C. on offence in its own end, Shea Emry stripped Lions running back Martell Mallett of the ball at the 22-yard line and the Als immediately scored. Mallett lost two fumbles on the day to match his season total.
Then Printers rolled out right under pressure and threw the ball upfield —directly into the hands of defender Billy Parker. Montreal scored on that.
After an exchange of punts, Kerry Watkins took advantage of a missed tackle by cornerback LaVar Glover for a 90-yard reception, setting up an easy toss to Richardson to make it 24-3.
Montreal returner Larry Walker fumbled the ball, setting up the Lions on the Als' 14, and Paris Jackson pulled in a nice pass deep in the end zone to close the gap to 14 points.
But the Lions' defence then let Calvillo hit Bratton up the middle for 45 yards and a major to make it 31-10.
A Lions single point closed out the first-half scoring.
The Lions' defence lost a key piece on Montreal's very first offensive play when starting weakside cornerback Dante Marsh left with a knee injury, forcing back-up nickel back Jerome Dennis into action.
With files from The Canadian Press