Alouettes eliminated from playoffs after losing to Esks

The losing streak is over for the Edmonton Eskimos, but the misery goes on for the Montreal Alouettes.

Recently acquired running back C.J. Gable scored a pair of touchdowns as the Eskimos (8-6) eliminated Montreal (3-12) from playoff contention with a rain-soaked 42-24 victory on Monday afternoon. The result stopped Edmonton’s slump at six games while extending the Alouettes’ losing run to eight.

“It gives us a moment to breathe and celebrate hard work paying off,” said Eskimos coach Jason Maas, whose team moved into a tie with Saskatchewan for third place in the West Division. “This was a character win, being down 15-0 on the road, in bad conditions, and taking the lead at the half and sustaining it.

“We needed to feel this moment. We needed to feel what it was like to win again and have a good feeling going home. From there, we’ve still got to play good football. We have to play better. We’re far from perfect. But we’ll enjoy the moment and get ready for Saturday (against Toronto).”

It poured rain throughout the match, which caused fumbles, interceptions, dropped passes and missed tackles for both teams before mostly empty grandstands at Percival Molson Stadium, where attendance was announced as 18,849.

The Alouettes, who hadn’t scored a first-quarter touchdown in six games, had two while taking a 15-0 lead in the opening 9:33 of play before Gable’s touchdown on a four-yard sweep at 13:42 put the Eskimos back in the game.

“Not holding onto the ball and not catching it and not being able to throw it perfectly – all that plays in,” said Maas. “One of the hardest games to play is in a driving rain.”

The result put Montreal out of the playoffs for a third straight year.

“We weren’t mentally ready,” said Alouettes kick returner Stefan Logan. “It’s preparing yourself each week.

“I take pride on catching the ball. I take pride on working on ways to catch the ball on punt returns. I’m not pointing out anyone on the team, but we have to do a better job. They had turnovers at the beginning but they didn’t fold. They stayed together and they rallied back. We were so excited and then we lost it, and that’s not a good football team. That’s the part that really sucks.

“So now we’re not making the playoffs. Now we’re playing three more games for free. Just playing to build your stats or to get a job next year.”

Brandon Zylstra, who caught seven passes for 201 yards, Duke Williams and cornerback Chris Edwards also scored TDs and Swayze Waters added three field goals for Edmonton. Gable had 22 carries for 111 yards.

Williams’ 25-yard TD catch with 4:09 left to play came from James Franklin who replaced Mike Reilly at the start the fourth quarter.

Maas said it was precautionary, that Reilly, who appeared to have an ankle or leg problem, will be evaluated to see if he can play Saturday. He added the team is confident it can move the ball with Franklin behind centre.

Reilly went 13-for-29 for 286 yards and two touchdowns while Franklin completed two of five for 34 yards and one TD.

Tyrell Sutton and defensive back Brandon Stewart had touchdowns and Boris Bede kicked four field goals for Montreal. Drew Willy was good on 19 of 29 for 193 yards and was picked off twice.

A blocked punt recovered by Chip Cox gave Montreal the ball on the Edmonton 39 and two plays later Sutton ran in from the nine 2:40 into the game. Then Gable fumbled into Stewart’s hands and the defensive back ran it 55 yards for a touchdown at 4:14.

A 39-yard Logan kick return set up Bede’s 20-yard field goal at 9:33.

After Gable scored, Samuel Giguere fumbled the ensuing kickoff to allow Waters to hit from 25 yards only 28 seconds into the second quarter.

Montreal answered with Bede’s 31-yard effort, but a 56-yard pass to a wide open Zylstra put the Eskimos in position for Gable to take a shovel pass and score from the nine at 5:44. Zylstra was left open in the end zone for a 28-yard TD reception at 13:54, but Montreal marched back for Bede’s 37-yard placement to end the half.

Stewart picked off a Reilly pass to set up Bede’s 44-yard boot 6:21 into the third quarter, but the Eskimos answered with Waters’ 26-yarder at 9:56.

Edwards grabbed a ball that went in and out of the hands of Alouettes receiver Ernest Jackson and went 68 yards untouched into the end zone 6:22 into the fourth quarter.

“I went to squeeze it and it popped right out,” said Jackson.

Montreal linebacker Cox got his 900th career tackle.

Notes: Cornerback Jonathan Mincy was a surprise scratch for Montreal. The team said it was an injury. Edmonton scratched defensive end John Chick.

– CP

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