A few weeks ago, Montreal made the interesting decision to fire their head coach/offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator in the same week. Current General Manager Danny Maciocia took over the team and brought in his right-hand man to run the defense. Now two weeks later they win their first game, can they start stringing together some victories and right the ship?
By An Inch, or By a Mile
“It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning.” Those infamous words spoken by the fictional character Dominic Toretto in the popular Fast and Furious Series, could not be more fitting for the Alouette’s victory Thursday night. During a game that saw them win by just 7 points when the two teams combined for 73 points scored.
A few weeks ago I mentioned the Alouettes could look to use a two-quarterback system given the lack of mobility provided by new starter Trevor Harris. I seem to have been correct, the Alouettes chose to bring in Dominique Davis the number 2 quarterback for three different red zone attempts. He would end the game with 6 carries for 6 yards and 3 touchdowns on the day.
Trevor Harris did his part despite not totaling 3 touchdowns himself. On the night he completed over 80% of his attempts and managed to collect 341 yards and 2 touchdowns. If there is one big contributing factor to Harris’s success, it has to be the run game. Jeshrun Antwi had a solid performance with 7 carries for 79 yards. As mentioned before Davis added 6 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Chandler Worthy, Trevor Harris, and Walter Fletcher combined for 5 carries and 15 more yards. The simple threat of a run game was enough for the Alouettes to keep the defense honest, something they have struggled to do since Stanback was injured in week 1.
Record As It Stands
Currently, the Alouettes have just two victories, leaving them at a 2-4 record. The East Division is experiencing an odd situation where Toronto has currently still only played 4 games and sits 2-2. So while the Alouettes are technically in second place at a 2-4 record, the only thing separating the two teams is the two losses. Given a fair playing field, perhaps Toronto loses two more and the teams find themselves with the same record.
Part of why the changes were made to the coaching staff midseason is the extremely high expectations the Als came into this season with. On Paper they had built one of the strongest teams in the CFL, however as is often the case the chemistry, and coaching left something to be desired. This led to a very rocky start to the season and forced the organization to take drastic action on a head coach who had won just 8 games in his last 18 attempts with the Alouettes.
Momentum On Their Side?
The question heading into their seventh game of the season is quite obvious. Was this a fluke, or have the Alouettes finally found the rhythm they have been struggling to find since week one? The truth is, that no one truly knows at this point. Predicting outcomes of the Alouette games this season has been a losing gamble each week as they simply seem to come up short week after week.
Currently, I am leaning toward it being a fluke. Early in the fourth quarter, the score was 26-25 in favor of the Redblacks until Dominique Davis punched it in from the 1-yard line for the score. This gave the Alouettes the lead and they would not relinquish it. After the touchdown, Trevor Harris re-entered the game and immediately converted the 2-point attempt. Making the score 33-26.
Turnover Leads to Turning Point
On the next drive, Caleb Evans and company looked determined. William Powell gets the drive going with a four-yard run, and immediately after Evans finds Johnson for a 23-yard gain. The Redblacks aren’t dead yet…another three-yard run by Powell on first down sets up a second and long. Evans drops back and delivers a 13-yard strike, finding another first down.
On the very next play, again Evans who is finding a hot streak fires a dart, to Behar. The only problem is that Micah Awe is right there to hit Behar and force a fumble that Awe recovers and returns 68 yards to the 3-yard line. Giving the Alouette offense the ball already in the red zone.
Immediately Davis comes back into the game ready to run in another touchdown. He however doesn’t gain any yards on his first carry, and Harris reenters the game once again. On the next play, Harris throws a beauty of a pass to Eugene Lewis opening up the lead to 14, after David Cote adds the extra point.
Final Gasp From Ottawa’s Offense
Down by 14 Ottawa regains possession and begins an impressive drive downfield. After starting the drive with an incomplete pass, a pass interference call nets them 26 yards and gets them the momentum they need. Evans completes his next two passes for 27 yards. It took just 37 seconds for the Redblacks to move the 53 yards.
A pass on second and ten goes to Jaelon Acklin who picks up seven yards and puts his offense on the three-yard line. The Ottawa offense calls on William Powell who picks up two yards putting his offense in a 2nd and 1 situation. On the next play, Montreal again gives up a key penalty which resulted in a first down for the Redblacks.
Given the new set of downs on the one-yard line, it was nearly inevitable that the offense would do the rest, and they did on the strength of a Caleb Evans quarterback sneak. After Lewis Ward added the extra point there was just a seven-point deficit. The Redblacks would need their defense to make a stop.
Stop Troops Give the Offense Another Shot
The defense in Ottawa has left a lot to be desired so far this season, but at this moment with the game on the line, they step up. Already facing a disadvantage when the Alouettes started at the 36-yard line, the odds weren’t stacked in Ottawa’s favor.
First down, Trevor Harris drops back to pass, looking for Eugene Lewis but the pass falls to the ground. Second down, Harris again dials up a pass, this time to rookie Tyson Philpot, who catches it and takes it 8 yards leaving his offense with a 3rd and 2 situation. Montreal opts to punt the ball, the Redblacks offense will get one more attempt.
Final Chance to Tie The Game
Joesph Zema uncorks a 53-yard punt, and the special teams unit makes the tackle with a net two-yard loss on the return for Ottawa. Evans comes out firing immediately finding Adams who picks up nine yards. On second down, William Powell takes the carry four yards, giving his team another first down.
The next two Caleb Evans passes fell incomplete but on the second play, Montreal AGAIN was called for defensive pass interference and even tried to challenge the ruling on the field which failed. The Redblacks gained another 31 yards on the play. Meaning Montreal’s defense had amounted to 58 yards in penalties on the last two drives alone.
Four of his next five attempts were completed, adding 41 yards to his stat line. That’s when the drive seemingly hit a brick wall, and couldn’t progress any further. Nate Behar is called for offsides, and on the following play, Evans throws a pass to Adams, who drops it. On the next play, Evans is sacked for a four-yard loss, leaving his team in a 3rd and 19 situation. He ends up giving Behar the nod and throws him the pass.
Behar hauls it in, but can only pick up 7 of the 19 yards he needed to get the first down. Montreal takes possession and from there it’s a mere formality that the Alouettes pick up the victory. What a sloppy way to collect his first victory as head coach for Danny Maciocia. Discipline is something his extremely talented roster is currently lacking. If he can’t get this turned around…they might be lacking Danny Maciocia heading into the 2023 season.
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