Alouettes complete thrilling comeback to defeat Stamps

The Montreal Alouettes got off to a lackluster start against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night at Percival Molson Stadium, but they found a way to overcome a multi-score deficit to win, 30-26.

The Als were trailing by as many as 14 points (23-9) in the first half. Despite being down by two in the final moments of the game, they were able to secure a victory thanks to a Walter Fletcher touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

This team is now 5-0 on the season, and they have rattled off 10 regular season victories in a row dating back to last season. They’re 13-0 if you include the three playoff wins from 2023.

So, how did the Als gain control of this game? Let’s break it down.

A patient offence:

From what we’ve seen this season, we know that this Alouettes offence can create explosive plays regularly. That wasn’t the case through three quarters against Calgary though. The Stamps defence did a good job of taking away the deep ball, but head coach Jason Maas and quarterback Cody Fajardo did a great job of making the plays that were available to them.

It’s not every day that your running back will finish with nine receptions for 104 yards, but that’s exactly what Walter Fletcher did tonight. The offence took what was there instead of forcing plays. Yes, they turned the ball over twice in the first half, but they were perfect in the fourth quarter.

The Als managed to score 15 points in the final frame when you include touchdowns by Cole Spieker and Fletcher.

“We have (deep) shots called during the game, but Cody (Fajardo) gets to make the last decision,” head coach Jason Maas said after the game. “Tonight, there were things that he saw differently than we thought we would see. If you get the ball to the running back and make good decisions getting it down to him, that’s one of the things the (opposing defence) will be okay giving up because they have great athletes that can tackle in space. But (Fletcher) just happens to be a great athlete with the ball in his hands, so he can make people miss. When they start taking that stuff away, that’s when we’ll start throwing the ball down the field.”

A defence that didn’t quit:

The Stampeders offence made things difficult on the Als defence, especially early. The Stamps threw a lot of quick screens, which forced the Alouettes defenders to move sideline-to-sideline a lot.

The Calgary offence wasn’t sexy by any stretch, but they nearly left Molson Stadium with a victory. But give Noel Thorpe’s defence credit because 23 points in the first two quarters, they allowed just a field goal in the second half, and they shut the Stamps out in the fourth quarter.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we won. That’s all that matters,” middle linebacker Darnell Sankey said after the game.

“We knew we were the better team, and we just had to come out and play like it. We felt like we came out really sloppy and slow in the first half. This really shouldn’t even have been a game. We shot ourselves in the foot. I’m not going to discredit (Calgary). They’re a good offence, but we missed some key assignments.

“If everybody does their job, it’s easy to stop (that kind of offence). If one guy misses a gap or someone else isn’t where they’re supposed to be, they exploit it.”

Stamps quarterback Jake Maier finished the night with just 106 passing yards. His longest completion was just 14 yards.

Defensive back Dionte Ruffin had the game-clinching interception on Calgary’s final drive of the game. He now has interceptions in back-to-back outings.

Jose Maltos seizes opportunity:

Global kicker Jose Maltos wasn’t originally supposed to play in this game, but a pre-game injury to David Cote forced the Alouettes to make a last-minute change. All the 32-year-old did was go three-for-three on his field goal attempts. He also hit his only extra point attempt, and he had a solid 70.8-yard average on kickoffs.

“During the warmup, I was helping Dave (Cote) and Joe (Zema) shag balls, and something happened with Dave after one of his kickoffs,” Maltos explained after the game. “They told me to go get ready (laughs).

“I’m always waiting for that opportunity. I work a lot to get this opportunity. We’re professionals and we need to be ready and stay locked in to help the team.”

This was a huge performance from Maltos. Kickers are people too, so I really wanted to mention that!

Injury update:

On top of losing Cote in the warmup, the Alouettes lost a few other players throughout the game. Safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy and linebacker Frederic Chagnon both came out and did not return.

Head coach Jason Maas didn’t have an update on any of the injuries. Everyone is day-to-day for now.

What’s next?

The Alouettes will have no time to rest, as they’ll host the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday night. The Argos have dropped back-to-back games to Montreal and Saskatchewan over the last two weeks.