There are three things in life that you can count on:
-The Montreal Alouettes losing at BC Pla…(squeal of car brakes)
NOT SO FAST!
Last night, some demons were finally exorcised for the Birds of Prey as they pulled off a feat that hasn’t happened since the start of this millennium; they defeated the BC Lions while playing at Vancouver’s BC Place.
Not only did the Alouettes win 23-13, they also posted their first road victory of 2015. The win also halted a three game losing streak and provided a bit of relief after what has been a tumultuous week for the fans of this team, dealing with personnel changes to the lineup and wondering if the offensive coaches actually had a solid game plan.
That first series last night didn’t exactly set the tone for Montreal, as Rakeem Cato was read like a romance novel by the Lions’ Ryan Phillips and picked off for a touchdown. Even I groaned as it looked like this was going to be a repeat performance of years gone by.
But then a switch flipped in the head of Alouettes offensive coordinator Turk Schonert, as though a lightbulb went off and he finally realized that he had some powerful weapons at his disposal. And that he was free to use them in a manner that suited his game plan!
For weeks now this Alouettes team has forsaken the running game, letting their rookie QB twist in the wind and either getting mauled by defenders or forced into making plays that simply went nowhere. But last night it became the Running Back Show, starring Tyrell Sutton, Stefan Logan and Brandon Rutley.
These outstanding tailbacks ran like their lives depended on it last night, amassing an incredible 215 yards on the ground. The non-stop ground and pound offense got the ball moving and provided relief for Cato, who didn’t have to kill himself in trying to make the impossible play happen. The most impressive of all these carries was when the Alouettes started very deep in their own end and Sutton broke free for an incredible 54 yard run to end the first quarter .
All of these rushes lead to better scoring opportunities like Cato’s dart to Nik Lewis for the first Alouettes TD and the resurgence of a force that hasn’t been seen in these parts yet this season. Last night, the people of Vancouver got to witness the return of “Marsh Madness”.
After spending the first third of the season on the 6 game injury list, Tanner Marsh made his presence felt last night against the Lions. Last year, he was primarily used as a third down QB behind Jonathan Crompton. Now healthy for 2015, he has resumed that role behind Rakeem the Dream. But not only did the former Wonder Boy from Arkansas Tech plunge for first downs last night against BC, he also kept the offense moving throughout the whole game and got mobile to score the go-ahead touchdown himself in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Montreal played some outstanding football by neutralizing the Lions’ biggest threat in Andrew Harris. The Alouettes’ D kept this talented Canadian to a mere 41 all-purpose yards last night. They also forced Travis Lulay into many two and outs and even when Lulay found the end zone with Manny Arcenaux, this Alouettes defense never lost focus.
On the other hand, Lulay had some lucky moments and kept the Lions in the game, but he was victim to some miscommunication and got picked off in the fourth quarter by Dominique Ellis, who has cemented himself as a bonafide starter in Montreal’s secondary. Ellis needed a big game after some costly penalties versus Edmonton & Ottawa and a clutch play was exactly what this dangerous threat needed to cleanse the palate. With Jerald Brown on the 6 game injury list, that DB spot is firmly occupied by Dominique and I don’t see him giving it back so easily.
Kyler Elsworth was also throwing his weight around last night, delivering a solid shot to Andrew Harris early that kept him off-kilter for the rest of the game. Replacing a player like Bear Woods isn’t easy but Elsworth has been a virtual bully out there, making plays happen on defence and being a general nuisance in the middle for opponents. Both he and Jonathan Hefney really made the Lions earn every single one of their positive yards.
The one glaring area for Montreal was penalties, especially on kick returns. Anyone who thought that Quebec-born referee Andre Proulx was going to favour the Alouettes was proven wrong as he had no problem throwing the linen Montreal’s way last night. Especially when Mitchell White cost Montreal some choice yardage with his pass interference penalty in the third quarter, which eventually led to BC’s lone offensive touchdown.
Stefan Logan was running with a purpose last night, eager to prove to his former team that they were wrong to release him this past off-season. But every time the speedy returner got some major yards, it was called back due to a penalty. Logan has already had a touchdown called back once this season due to penalties; this will have to be addressed by ST Coach Kavis Reed this week as the team prepares for another road game versus Hamilton.
After the game last night, it’d be understandable if the Lions players were frustrated. Last night was another tough loss after being decimated by Hamilton the week previous at Tim Hortons Field. But the post-game comments of one Manny Arcenaux really provided the Alouettes with some bulletin-board material last night:
Arcenaux after #Lions loss: "Montreal isn't good. They're not talented whatsoever. I don't respect nobody on their side of the ball." #CFL
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) August 21, 2015
While he’s certainly entitled to his opinion, I hope he realizes that he’ll be facing this very team again in two weeks, the next time at Percival Molson Stadium. At 3-5, it shouldn’t take much for the Alouettes to be motivated as a team to go out and win. But Arcenaux’s comments will certainly be remembered, much like last night’s win.
Even more surprising was the number of Lions fans who were displeased with Manny’s flippant words. No doubt they are frustrated as well with this new coaching regime in BC, as they try to establish themselves and growing pains are bound to happen. But for a Lions veteran to spout off like that is really unbecoming and reflects poorly on their team, whose fanbase will not tolerate such nonsense.
I’m sure Manny has been hearing about it throughout the night and into this morning, as his Twitter account (@TheMannyShow84) has now been deactivated. I doubt he’ll retract his words but when September 3rd rolls around and he finds himself in La Belle Province, he better be prepared to back up what he said with some winning game play.
Now that the Alouettes have put one streak to bed, they now set sights on possibly ending another impressive streak; the winning streak of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field. Montreal has twice fallen victim to painful losses in this madhouse and will look to silence the steam whistle in the Hammer.
The Alouettes will be back to Stade Hebert for practice next week, be sure to come check them out. For more info, click here.
Enjoy your weekend and enjoy last night’s win, Alouettes Nation….it’s been a LONG time coming.
GO ALS GO!!!