The Montreal Alouettes (1-0) headed to Calgary to take on the Stampeders (0-2) on Friday night. The Stamps were without franchise quarterback, Bo Levi Mitchell on the night, and although many thought that Michael O’Connor would start the game, the Stampeders decided to go with former UC-Davis QB Jake Maier who was making his first Canadian Football League start.
The opening kick-off resulted in a big return of Malik Henry who has had a couple of big returns already this season. The first drive for Maier and the offence started with some good runs from Ka’Deem Carey who had three back-to-back runs of at least nine yards. Maier threw his first pass of the game not too long after, but it was nearly intercepted as he looked to find Henry over the middle of the field. He would have another incompletion before they brought out Rene Paredes for a field goal attempt from 39-yards out. He was good on the kick, scoring the first points of the game and giving the Stampeders a 3-0 lead early in this game.
The Stampeders would force the Alouettes to go two and out, giving Maier and the offence another chance to score points and help the young quarterback gain some confidence. Instead, the exact opposite happened. Maier tried to throw a deep ball to the wide side of the field and came up short. The pass was intercepted by Wesley Sutton.
Montreal started the drive on their own 40-yard line after the interception. They pieced together a nice drive filled with small gains and got themselves into scoring range. On second and 10, Vernon Adams Jr. decided to take off and run, making a nice cut-back move in the process to stay inbounds. He was tracked down from behind by Jameer Thurman and fumbled the ball. He was lucky to see it recovered by Kaion Julien-Grant, his teammate. It could have been a very different end to the drive without Julien-Grant being in the right place at the right time.
Just a couple of plays later, Adams Jr. found Jake Wieneke in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. Wieneke brought the ball in in double-coverage and after the extra point, the Als had a 7-3 lead.
With Maier back in the saddle for the Stampeders, he went deep immediately to roughly the same spot he threw the interception on the previous drive. This time, he completed the pass to Markeith Ambles. Two plays later, Richie Sindani made a circus catch after it was deflected. Things were starting to look much better for Maier, but it would all come crashing down quickly for him once again.
On first down from the Montreal 14-yard line, he threw a screen pass to Carey that drifted far down the field and led Carey right into a big hit. To compound the issues, the ball was tipped up and intercepted once again by Adarius Pickett. Things were getting worse for Maier.
The second to last play of the quarter gave us some fireworks and a catch of the year candidate. Eugene Lewis climbed the ladder and made a spectacular catch, tapping a toe in bounds.
Second Quarter (MTL: 7 @ CGY: 3)
Changing ends of the field didn’t stop the Alouettes as they continued to drive down the field in the second quarter. A couple of passes to B.J. Cunningham, a run from William Stanback, and a sneak from Adams Jr. had the Als knocking on the door early in the second. The drive was capped off by Stanback who plowed his way into the endzone with the big boys out front blocking the way for him. David Cote hit the extra point, giving the Alouettes a 14-3 lead.
After a two and out from the Stampeders that included Maier having a ball slip out of his hands while throwing it, the Als kicked their drive off with a big run from Stanback for 20-yards. The very next play, Adams Jr. found Wieneke deep down the field for 22 more yards. But the good was about to stop on this drive. Adams Jr. made a throw that I would put up there with one of the worst he will have all season. A poor read right into double coverage resulted in an interception by Royce Metchie. The Stamps took over the ball, although deep into their own territory.
This may have been a break in the momentum that the Stampeders desperately needed. A couple of completions in a row and a couple of confident-looking passes had the Stampeders rolling down the field. Play after play, the Stampeders looked like the Stamps of old. All of these big plays culminated in a touchdown for the Stamps, and a rushing touchdown for Carey. On the Maier front, he looked really good. He was poised and made some great passes. They would go for two, but after Ante Milanovic-Litre dropped the ball on the goal line, it would be no good. Montreal leads by five.
Maier would lead another scoring drive for the Stampeders before halftime, this time of the field goal variety. The Als nearly had another scoring chance when Milanovic-Litre fumbled the ball deep in his own side of the field, but the Stamps recovered the ball and kneeled out the half.
Third Quarter (MTL: 14 @ CGY: 12)
Both offences started the second half quite slowly and nothing was really happening for them. The offences could do nothing right until there were under five minutes left on the clock. It’s not like the Stamps did much offensively, but they got into scoring range after a roughing the passer penalty.
It was a good drive for the Stamps, and one they really needed at this point of the game. With things getting rolling for them offensively with Maier at quarterback, he found Kamar Jorden in the endzone for the first touchdown pass of his career. After the extra point, the Stampeders took the lead 19-14.
The Alouettes would again have a drive stall out deep in their own end, and after they punted from a very similar spot before the Calgary touchdown, this time they decided to give up the safety and give the Stampeders a seven-point lead.
It was a rather boring quarter of football unless you are a fan of defence, but the Stampeders used it to take the lead. The fourth would be for all the marbles.
Fourth Quarter (MTL: 14 @ CGY: 21)
As the Alouettes continued to struggle on offence, the Stampeders started getting things going. A trick play flea-flicker got them 83-yards to Josh Huff, getting them all the way down to the goal line.
Getting the ball into the endzone, however, proved to be a challenge for the Stampeders’ offence. Penalties and bobbled snaps backed them up. They would find their way into the endzone after a while, however. Carey again, but this time it was him diving over the pile of offensive and defensive linemen and scoring the major for the Stamps. The extra point was good, and the Stamps lead by 14 now.
The Als continued to spin their tires and search for any kind of traction they could find, but it was like driving on black ice for them. They continued to shoot themselves in the foot with costly penalties and were lucky to be able to attempt a field goal to cut the Stampeders lead. A poor snap meant that Joeseph Zema couldn’t get the hold down properly, and Cote could do nothing other than just kick the ball as far as he could. The Als scored a single.
The very next play, the Stampeders made a costly mistake of their own. The snap hit a receiver in motion and hit the turf before being recovered by Montreal. Just like that, the Als had life again.
This game was far from over, however. The Montreal offence seemed to find some life after they were gifted another chance. On the first play after the three-minute warning, Adams Jr. found Quan Bray in the endzone for a touchdown. The extra point was good, but it was a bit of an adventure after it hit the upright and banked in. The Als needed a stop on the next drive.
A stop is exactly what the Alouettes would get after the Stamps tried to run the ball on back-to-back downs. Montreal moved the ball well on the drive, and the Stampeders took a poorly-timed roughing the passer penalty on this drive, getting the Als closer to paydirt with less than a minute to play.
With 26 seconds to go, the Alouettes were backed into a corner on third and five needing a first down to stay alive. They would get that first down on a nice scamper from Adams Jr.. On the next play, Adams Jr. ran around in the backfield avoiding sacks and found Bray in the endzone. He came up just short on the play, and it would come down to one last play with one second left from Calgary’s 14-yard line.
Adams Jr. dropped back, looked for his receiver in the endzone and found Lewis with his feet in the endzone, but the ball never crossed the plane. The Als came up a yard short, and the Stampeders took home the win.
The final score: Montreal Alouettes: 22 @ Calgary Stampeders: 28
Passing Yards: Jake Maier (CGY): 304
Rushing Yards: William Stanback (MTL): 82
Receiving Yards: Josh Huff (CGY): 128
Touchdowns: Ka’Deem Carey (CGY): 2
Tackles: Darnell Sankey (CGY): 7
Special Teams Tackles: Alexandre Gange (MTL): 3
Sacks: Adarius Pickett (MTL): 1
Interceptions: Adarius Pickett (MTL), Wesley Sutton (MTL), Royce Metchie (CGY): 1
13th Man Sports Player of the Game
POTG: Jake Maier
16/29 passing, 304 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, first career win