Much of the pre-game chatter had focused on the B.C. Lions’ stingy defence. But on this night, it was the Alouettes’ defensive corps that garnered the attention.
Cornerback Billy Parker knocked down a Travis Lulay pass attempt on third down with just ticks remaining in the fourth quarter to secure a 30-25 win for the Alouettes over the Lions on Friday night at Molson Stadium.
It was Montreal’s fourth straight win and moved the team into a tie with B.C. for first place in the CFL at 6-3.
“It’s been like that the last couple of weeks. Each phase took their chance to help our football team win. Today it was our defence,” Anthony Calvillo said. “They stopped them a lot on a short field and only let them get field goals, and it really helped out our football team. And then, to stop them there at the end was just ginormous. That was just the icing on the cake for how they played this evening.”
With several new faces on defence and a new defensive coordinator, the Alouettes struggled in the first month of the season, allowing at least 30 points in each of their first four games. They started to show signs of improvement in a loss to the Argonauts on July 27, holding Toronto to 23 points.
Since then, the Alouettes have kept their opponents below 30 points.
“Our ultimate goal was growth. We wanted to have growth from beginning to end and continue to be on the incline, be an ascending team and peak at the proper time,” safety Kyries Hebert said. “Right now, we’re looking good but we still have work to do. We’re going to continue to get better.”
But with Lulay and the likes of Geroy Simon, Arland Bruce III and Andrew Harris always posing a threat, taming the Lions’ attack was a clear test heading into the game.
“The receiving corps and quarterback they have over there – they’ve got a potent offence. The last three weeks we’ve been turning that corner on defence. This was a great challenge for our defence to see what we got,” said defensive back Dwight Anderson.
Another record for Calvillo
While the defence did its part, so too did the Alouettes offence. Despite a banged-up receiving corps, Calvillo proved once again that age is nothing but a number in completing 19 of 31 passes for 321 yards.
It marked the eighth straight game that Calvillo surpassed 300 yards, breaking the record set by Doug Flutie with B.C. in 1991.
“He’s a legend,” Anderson said of his quarterback. “We put all our money in the hat on AC and ride his back. We know he has the ability to go out there and put up points for the offence so the defence just has to stick with it and try to close it out.”
The injury bug has taken a bite out of the Alouettes’ receiving corps over the last several weeks, taking down different weapons each week. Playing without Jamel Richardson (hamstring) and Brandon London (knee), it was Brandon Whitaker who stepped up to the plate against the Lions, recording three touchdowns, two of which came as a receiver.
“I’m just proud of our football team. We’ve never made any excuses for the guys who come up and step up and play. We just keep going,” head coach Marc Trestman said. “Guys don’t try to do more than they have to do, they just let each guy do their job. It was just a good team win.”
But as good as well as the offence and defence delivered, special teams continue to plague the Alouettes. Early in the third quarter, Lions returner Tim Brown piled up a combined 117 yards (61 and 56) on back-to-back returns. The 27-year-old finished the night with 270 yards to his credit – 106 on six punt returns and 164 on five kicks.
Heading into the weekend, Montreal was one of just two teams – along with Toronto – to have yet to score on a return. The Argonauts, however, can count on Chad Owens. The Alouettes are still looking for someone to take the job and run with it, and have been since saying goodbye to Larry Taylor.
Trestman conceded the team does have more work to do on all three sides of the ball. The coach, as even-keeled as they come, has emphasized the fact that as well as the team is going at the moment, there is still plenty of football left to play.
And it appears everyone is prepared to do just that.
“We’re only halfway in our season right now. It’s fun to win right now, we’re going to sit back and enjoy this but we’re going to continue to make our corrections,” Calvillo said. “But guys are believing in this room that we can win, no matter the situation. When you’ve got young guys believing that, with the veteran crew that we have in here, it makes for an exciting football team. We’re definitely headed in the right direction.”