Redblacks down Alouettes, take over first in the East

The Montreal Alouettes had a new head coach on the sidelines but the result on the field didn’t change.

General manager Kavis Reed made his Alouettes coaching debut Sunday as Montreal lost 29-11 to the Ottawa Redblacks for their fifth straight defeat.

Reed took over as head coach on Wednesday after firing Jacques Chapdelaine and defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe.

“We made mistakes,” said Reed, who coached the Edmonton Eskimos from 2011 to 2013. “It started with the way I set the team up in terms of the personnel going into the week. I’m culpable for that. When the score reflects this way, it’s not going to reflect on the players, it’s going to reflect on the coaches.

“Today we were a bad fundamental team.”

Reed’s shuffling of Montreal’s coaching staff – Anthony Calvillo became the team’s offensive co-ordinator and Greg Quick was named defensive co-ordinator – did nothing to boost the struggling team.

Darian Durant started the game at quarterback but was replaced in the second quarter by backup Drew Willy after failing to complete a pass in his first six tries.

Willy went 12-of-17 for 83 passing yards in relief.

After the game Reed confirmed Durant was still his starting QB. Montreal’s next game is against the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.

Montreal (3-9), which held the ball for just 19 minutes, finished with 151 total yards and eight first downs. Ottawa had 421 yards on offence and 28 first downs in 41 minutes of possession.

“I was flat,” admitted Durant. “I just didn’t get it done. There’s no excuse. It was a flat out bad performance. As the leader of this team I can’t perform like that.”

It took the Alouettes more than 23 minutes to get a first down.

“I’m trying to get rid of the ball too quickly instead of standing upright and delivering the ball,” added Durant. “When you rush things and rush your footwork, that’s what happens.”

The victory propelled the Redblacks (5-7-1), winners of four of their last five games, into first place in the CFL’s East Division.

Quarterback Drew Tate made his first start of the season in relief of Trevor Harris, who separated his right shoulder last week.

Tate went 21-of-29 for 185 passing yards, including one touchdown and an interception, before leaving the game with an injury of his own in the third quarter.

“Initially we thought he had the wind knocked out of him,” said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell of Tate. “But we really don’t know the extent. He doesn’t feel right. We’re going to get a further evaluation.”

Tate’s replacement, Ryan Lindley, made his CFL debut and completed 7-of-14 passes for 76 yards.

It was more of the same for the third-place Alouettes, which have lost their last five games by a combined score of 174-70.

With fans still filing into their seats at Montreal’s Percival Molson Stadium, Ottawa marched down the field on its opening drive. Tate completed eight passes to five different receivers, capped off by a 16-yard toss to Patrick Lavoie. A two-point conversion to Jake Harty gave the Redblacks an 8-0 lead.

The teams exchanged field goals as Ottawa went up 11-3 midway through the second quarter.

Diontae Spencer put the game out of reach with a 113-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown at 12:08 of the second quarter. Another two-point conversion put the visitors ahead 19-3.

“It was big right before the half,” said Spencer. “Everyone was saying that was the spark we needed. That kind of gave everyone the feeling that we could finish the game. When you score on special teams, it energizes the whole team.”

Added Campbell: “That’s probably the biggest swing play in CFL football. The other team is missing it out on three (points) and you take it the other way. That was an 11-point swing and a huge momentum changer. Huge play.”

Montreal showed signs of life when Tyrell Sutton’s 43-yard rush led to a QB sneak by Willy for the touchdown with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Willy then found Tiquan Underwood for the two-point convert to make it 25-11.

Kicker Brett Maher added his third field goal of the game at 6:43 of the fourth quarter to go up 28-11.

Notes: Attendance at Percival Molson Stadium was 22,596. Montreal added Kit Lathrop (defensive line coach) and Ken Miller (offensive consultant) to its coaching staff on Sunday.

– CP

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