Alouettes clinch playoff spot with win over Redblacks
The Montreal Alouettes clinched a playoff spot with a 32-15 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks at TD Place on Saturday night.
The Als led from start to finish, but the game included some wacky moments to say the least. We saw an on-side one-yard punt, a punter force a fumble with his foot, and the second longest interception return for a touchdown in franchise history.
Let’s break it all down for you:
The on-side punt:
As you may remember, running back Jeshrun Antwi attempted the same play back in July when the Alouettes were in Vancouver, but it didn’t work out. This time, he executed the play to perfection. If you’re watching the play and had no clue what was going on, you weren’t alone. Many people were confused by what happened. But this is the simplest way to understand the play:
A punter can always recover his own punt as long as he kicks the ball from behind the line of scrimmage and he recovers it when it’s across the line of scrimmage. It doesn’t matter how far the punt goes, either. If the player recovers the ball like Antwi did, the team gets a fresh set of downs.
So, in Montreal’s case, it was easier to execute that play than it was to convert the second-and-18 they were facing at the time.
“We know that on second-and-18 in the CFL, the defence uses cover-4 (four defenders deep), the guys are dropping back. There’s nothing much you can call from the playbook that can get you a first down,” Antwi said. “(Coach Jason Maas) called it, if you’re able to get the ball passed the line of scrimmage and recover it, that’s a first down.”
Quarterback Cody Fajardo explained that he and Jason Maas have had that play in the playbook for three years dating back to their time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Even though they practiced it, they never used it in a game before this year.
“Coach Maas and I have had that play in for about three years now,” Fajardo said after the win. “We’ve been trying to get it called. We called it at B.C. and Antwi missed the kick, so we said we’re going to give him another chance. It was great because the referees were kind of confused too, and I was trying to tell them he kicked it. It’s just great when you can put in a play, you can expect what you’re going to see, and you can execute to perfection. That’s a lot of pressure. You think it’s an easy play for Antwi, but that’s a tough one out there, in space, with people running at you.”
Zema’s forced fumble:
Global punter Joseph Zema has had an incredible season, but he found a way to use his feet to make a different kind of play on Saturday night.
With the Als leading 7-0 in the first half, David Cote attempted a 46-yard field which wasn’t successful in the end. Redblacks returner Brandon Dandridge took the ball out of the end zone. As Dandridge is running towards Zema, the Als punter is knocked on his back, but his legs flew up into the air. Well, his foot caught a piece of the ball, and it was popped out of Dandridge’s hands. Alouettes tight end Regis Cibasu picked up the ball.
“It probably is the first forced fumble of my career,” Zema said with a chuckle. “I didn’t even use my hands; I used my feet. It’s the only thing I know how to do apparently. It was just a complete fluke. It was luck. I got hit when I came back, that’s how I ended up on the ground. My legs were up in the air and I just happened to hit the ball straight out of his hands.”
For the second week in a row, safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy came away with an interception. With the Als leading 15-0 in the third quarter and the Redblacks on the Alouettes’ eight-yard line, Dequoy intercepted Dustin Crum’s pass and he brought it back 108 yards for a touchdown.
The former Montreal Carabins now has a career-high five interceptions this season. He was voted as the Budweiser Player of the Game by the fans for his effort.
The Als defence continues to make big plays when they’re backed up deep in their own territory. Dequoy’s interception in Calgary occurred in the Montreal end zone last week. Reggie Stubblefield’s first-half interception occurred in the Montreal end zone on Saturday, while Dequoy was two yards away from the Montreal goal line.
— Alouettes de Montréal (@MTLAlouettes) September 30, 2023
- Stubblefield was outstanding in this game, as he finished with two quarterback sacks, an interception and a team-high seven tackles on Saturday night. The Als defensive back was released by the team in training camp, but he was brought back early in the season. Since being inserted into the lineup, he’s shown that he can be an impact player in the CFL.
- Tyrice Beverette was all over the field. He finished the night with two quarterback sacks, six defensive tackles and three more on special teams.
- Shawn Lemon scored his first career touchdown when he returned a fumble 30 yards into the Redblacks end zone. He’s still one sack away from reaching the 100-mark for his career.
- Canadian safety Zach Lindley snuffed out a fake punt by Ottawa and prevented them from getting the first down. Unfortunately, he was injured on the play and didn’t return. He’s day-to-day for now.
- William Stanback had another great day at the office, as he rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. Stanback’s major came on a 25-yard on the first drive of the game.
- Returner James Letcher Jr. looked explosive in his first CFL game. The 24-year-old returned six punts for 105 yards, and he added 69 yards on two kickoff returns.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment, my teammates have been waiting for this moment, and my family back home has been waiting for this moment,” Letcher said.
“I was just trusting my teammates and trusting the scheme we had. Trusting my blockers and making sure they did everything they were supposed to do, and I took care of the rest. Props to them.”
- Finally, the most crucial stat: The Alouettes won the turnover battle 6-0. They recovered three fumbles, they made two interceptions and they forced one turnover on downs.
Coming up next: The Alouettes will host the Ottawa Redblacks on Thanksgiving Monday at Percival Molson Stadium at 1 pm. Get your tickets for that game by visiting GoAlsGo.com.