THE CANADIAN PRESS
Regina, July 9, 2011 – Veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo is too experienced to get anxious about setting the CFL’s all-time touchdown passing record.
The 39-year-old Alouettes’ quarterback tied Damon Allen’s record of 394 touchdown passes when he threw for five majors in Montreal’s 39-25 win over Saskatchewan Saturday afternoon.
“It really hasn’t set in yet, to be honest with you,” said Calvillo, who completed 29-of-43 passes for 419 yards and one interception to improve Montreal to 2-0 on the season. “I’m going to sit back and enjoy this win and know that I’m going to be closer to that amazing record, but I’m not going to let it cloud my train of thought.
“I want to try and stay focused on the next game. I’m pretty good at doing that, but to be there right now, it has been a blessing up to this point. Being here in Montreal and being healthy and playing with this group of guys.”
Calvillo knew coming into the season, and Saturday’s game, that he was nearing the record, but he tried to keep it out of his mind.
The 18-year CFL veteran quickly got to work tying the record against Saskatchewan.
Calvillo connected with Brian Bratton over the middle for a 26-yard strike on the team’s second possession.
Saskatchewan tied up the game on their next possession when Wes Cates found pay dirt on a 16-yard run up the middle. That major was set up by a 75-yard kickoff return by Tristan Jackson.
Calvillo then got back to work when he found Brandon Whitaker for a four-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
Neal Hughes scored on a one-yard plunge and both teams exchanged field goals to head to the locker room tied at 17-17 at halftime.
Calvillo came out of the halftime break on fire. The 39-year-old completed 14-of-15 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns that broke the game open.
After nearly being picked off on his first drive of the quarter, Calvillo led Montreal on a 62-yard drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass to S.J. Green. He followed that up with an 85-yard drive that ended with a two-yard pass to Bratton.
Tim Maypray capped off Calvillo’s completion streak by taking a ball 55-yards to the house early in the fourth quarter.
Both Sean Whyte and Eddie Johnson kicked single points. Chris Getzlaf caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Darian Durant, who completed 22-of-40 passes for 273 yards, to round out the scoring.
Although Calvillo was at his best in the third quarter to seal the game, he was more impressed with his team’s ability to score in the fourth quarter, when Montreal was going against a wind that gusted up to 44 kilometers per hour.
“With the wind playing out here you always have to do some positive things,” he said. “I was more impressed with what we did against the wind. We scored a touchdown against the wind in that fourth quarter and that was huge for us.
“The guys out front did an amazing job and we have some talented receivers. There were times when they were wide open and made my job easy. I just kept going through my reads and letting everybody else take care of their jobs.”
Although he has a chance to break Allen’s record July 15 when Montreal hosts Toronto, Calvillo is maintaining that it will not be on his mind.
That attitude is why Alouette receiver Jamel Richardson, who led all receivers with nine catches for 114 yards on Saturday, calls Calvillo the best quarterback he has ever played with.
Richardson, who failed to find the end zone against Saskatchewan, would like to be part of history next week and catch Calvillo’s next touchdown pass, but he’ll just be happy to see any other Alouette make the grab.
“It would be great if I could catch that ball and be part of history,” he said. “It don’t matter who catches that. These are all my brothers in the receiving corps and hopefully it will be me.”
As for the Riders, they have yet to hold a lead during the 2011 regular season and will continue to search for their first win in Hamilton July 16.
Head coach Greg Marshall admits this is not the start he envisioned for his team, but that the Riders will rebound.
“This isn’t the same team right now that has gone to the Grey Cup the last two years,” he said. “We’re going to keep working hard.
“We’re the ones who put ourselves in this hole and we’re the ones who have to get out of it.”
NOTES: Mosaic Stadium was sold out for the Riders’ 13th consecutive regular season home game … The Riders honoured former players Chris Szarka and Jeremy O’Day at halftime.