Alouettes manhandle Tiger-Cats

Bolstered by a strong defence, the Montreal Alouettes pounded the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday night at Percival Molson Stadium.

Bolstered by a strong defence, the Montreal Alouettes pounded the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday night at Percival Molson Stadium.

Quarterback Anthony Calvillo threw a touchdown pass to Elijah Thurmon and Marcus Brady rushed for another score, bothin the second quarter, of the 27-9 win, which kept theAlouettes (5-3) just a half game behind the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the CFL East Division lead.

Calvillo completed 30 of 44 passes for 354 yards.

The Alouettes have often squandered strong first half performances this season, allowing teams to creep back into the game. While Montreal didn't score much in the second half, their defence stifled the opposition on Saturday night.

"The difference today was our defence," Calvillo told CBC Sports. "Offensively, we still didn't do enough to put this team away in that third quarter. We're going to continue to work on that."

Damon Duval kicked three field goalsto aid the Alouettes, winners offour in a row for coach Jim Popp.

"I think for us, when you play 18 games, you're going to struggle at one point or another," Calvillo said, referring to the team's problems early in the season. "We're playing with a lot of confidence right now."

Hamilton (1-7) lost its second in a row after recording their only win of the season. The team trails Toronto by two points for third placein the East.

"I thought we took a step backward tonight," saidHamilton coach Charlie Taaffe. "We had four penalties inside the 20.

"There are some things you can control and self-defeating errors give us no chance."

The Ticats took 18 penalties in the game.

Miserable night

Ticat pivot Jason Maas had a miserable night that featured miscommunication with his receivers and his centre. Maas could only lead his team to three Nick Setta field goals, and was replaced in the fourth quarter by backup Timmy Chang.

Montreal sacked Hamilton quarterbacks five times.

"He [Maas]had a lot of pressure on him when Montreal went with a three-man rush," Taaffe said. "We have five blockers, so do the math. That really disappoints me."

About the only negative for the Als was in the punt return game, where Brian Bratton twice coughed the ball over to the Tiger-Cats.

With the score tied 3-3 early in the second, a Hamilton snap sailed over the head of Maas and into the team's end zone. Running back Jesse Lumsden kicked the ball out to concede the two-point safety.

The Alouettes also got possession of the ball and drove down for a 37-yard Duval field goal.

Hamilton got an 18-yard field goal to get those points back. Setta set up the score when his booming 63-yard punt caused Brattontofumble. It wasrecovered by Phillip Gauthier.

Second quarter dooms Ticats

The Alouettes effectively put the game out of reach with two touchdowns before the half.

Calvillo found Ben Cahoon for a pair of passes, and running back Jarret Payton contributed 20 yards on a pair of runs to set up the first score.

As they often do,the Alouettes brought reserve Brady in for the quarterback sneak, which produced a one-yard touchdown.

Montreal then struck a crucial blow, scoring with just four seconds left in the half. The 95-yard driveand was capped by a 15-yard Calvillo touchdown pass to Thurmon.

Hamilton showed signs of life early in the third but Maas suffered histhird sack, courtesy of Alain Kashama.

Bratton's second return fumble —recovered by Dwight Anderson — gave the Ticats hope, but it was short-lived.

Fumble recovered

Maas scrambled toward Montreal's goal line, but began to bobble the ball just as he was hit by defensive back Diamond Ferri. The Alouettes recovered the fumble.

Calvillo then found five different receivers as he drove his offensive unit intofield goal position, with Damon Duval making good on the 34-yarder.

Maas shook off another sack on the next drive, completing passes to Jason French and Chris Bauman to set up Setta's third field goal of the game, from 48 yards out. The score was 25-9.

The Hamilton quarterback badly overthrew his intended target early in the fourth.Mark Estelle picked the pass off andsped downfield.

The return would go for 78 yards, with teammate Eric Wilson pouncing on Estelle's fumble.The Alouettes were only able to add a single when Duval missed a 44-yard attempt.

Maas was done for the night, finishing 10-of-18 passing for 141 yards.

Chang andBrady both got somework in at quarterback as the game wound down.

Lumsden was limited to 35 yards on seven carries for Hamilton. The back also fumbled, though it was recovered by the Ticats.

Payton carried nine times for 74 yards. The son of late NFL legend Walter Payton has 375 rushing yards in four games since taking over as the team's main back.

He left the game in the third with sore ribs but Montreal coach Jim Popp said afterward the injury was not serious.

Popp's wife, Kim, gave birth to the couple's fifth child on Saturday morning.

"I nodded off in a chair at one point, that's all," Popp said. "The coaches had the game well prepared."

Jason Armstread made his debut for Hamilton after being acquired from Saskatchewan in a trade for Corey Holmes last week.

Armstead returned five punts and one kickoff on the night, with his longest return going for 24 yards.

With files from the Canadian Press