MONTREAL – The Montreal Alouettes have beaten the Calgary Stampeders by the score of 17 to 8 in the Alouettes last home game of the 2016 season.
The Calgary Stampeders had their eyes on history, but the Montreal Alouettes had other plans on Sunday afternoon.
Rakeem Cato and Vernon Adams Jr. combined for a great performance under centre for the Als, while Nik Lewis achieved a pair of CFL milestones, as Montreal took down the league-leading Calgary Stampeders 17-8 at McGill’s Stadium.
Adams Jr. was forced to leave the game early due to a left leg injury, paving the way for a solid relief performance by Cato. The backup was good on five of his nine passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, while taking off for 73 yards on the ground in less than a half of play.
The Stamps, meanwhile, handed the ball to Drew Tate in Week 19. The veteran threw the ball 37 times, completing 22 passes for 218 yards and a pair of interceptions.
Offensively speaking, it was a quiet first quarter. The only points of the opening 15 minutes came by-way of a 39-yard field goal by Rene Paredes, and a conceded safety by Alouettes kicker Boris Bede.
It looked as though the Stamps would register the game’s first offensive points prior to the Bede safety, but Tate saw his pass intercepted in the endzone by Alouettes DB Khalid Wooten.
The Stamps would take their 5-0 lead into the second quarter.
With 12:50 remaining in the second frame, Alouettes receiver Nik Lewis hauled in his 967th career reception, passing Stampeders legend Allen Pitts for fifth all-time in the CFL.
The milestone must have given Lewis a jolt of adrenaline, as the hulk-like veteran proceeded to reel in pass after pass, injecting some much-needed life into an otherwise stagnant Alouettes offence.
With 7:12 left in the half, Adams Jr. guided the home side on a 12-play, 95-yard drive which was capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by tailback Brandon Rutley.
The score pushed the Alouettes ahead 7-5. On the drive, Adams Jr. completed four of his five passes, three of to Lewis. The rookie pivot was also effective with his legs, rushing four times for 29 yards.
The Als took a 7-5 lead into the break.
The first half was a challenging one for Tate. The backup completed 10 of his 19 passes for 99 yards and two interceptions, a stark contrast to what Stamps fans expect for their usually high-powered offence.
In the third quarter, disaster struck for the Alouettes as Adams Jr. was forced out of the game with an apparent knee injury. It was then that Cato came into the game in relief of the QB.
Adams Jr. left the game 11 of 14 for 106 yards and no touchdowns.
Despite the setback under centre, the Als seemingly didn’t miss a beat with Cato throwing the ball.
On his first drive of the game, the second-year QB hooked up with Tiquan Underwood for a 37-yard touchdown pass, giving the Als a 14-5 lead.
Cato continued to make his mark on Sunday’s matinee affair, as he took off for a massive 71-yard run with the third quarter coming to a close, the longest by the Alouettes this season.
Fortunately for the Stamps, the big gain didn’t translate into any points, as the Als turned the ball over on downs after a failed third-down goal-line attempt.
Bede would tack on a 36-yard field goal to give the Alouettes a 17-5 lead in the fourth quarter.
But the Stamps would answer right back with a field goal of their own, as Paredes split the uprights from 23 yards out, cutting Montreal’s lead back to nine.
Then, with just over five minutes remaining, the Stampeders appeared to be finally generating some momentum offensively. Tate lead his offence on 11-play, 73-yard drive deep into Montreal territory.
However, Tate wasn’t able to get past the Alouette nine-yard line, turning the ball over on downs.
Shortly after, Lewis registered his eighth reception of the game, passing Darren Flutie for fourth on the all-time receptions list.
Next week, the Alouettes will close out their 2016 campaign on Saturday in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats.