Adams’ career game, missed calls propels Alouettes to win over Redblacks

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

The Montreal Alouettes came into Week 5 on a high after stunning the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week on the back of William Stanback’s 203-yard, three touchdown outing.

This time, it was his quarterback who had a career performance.

Vernon Adams Jr. eclipsed 300 passing yards for the first time and added four touchdowns, two in the air and two on the ground as the Alouettes took down the Ottawa Redblacks 36-19.

Ottawa’s defence quelled the Als offence from grabbing a big early lead.

A Tommie Campbell interception on Dominique Davis’ first pass put their offence in the red zone, but the defence forced a field goal.

They did it once more after a Chris Randle penalty gave the Als a fresh set of downs. Adams moved the ball to the 19 but that’s as far as they got. Boris Bede hit his second field goal and Montreal led 6-0 when it easily could’ve been 14-0 after one.

Campbell was in the thick of it again when he recovered an R.J. Harris fumble in the second quarter. That drive ended in Bede’s third field goal, this time from 34 yards out.

The rest of Montreal’s defence also kept Davis on his toes. It wasn’t until their sixth drive when the quarterback got into a groove. But even after receptions of 10 yards-plus from Brad Sinopoli and Caleb Holley twice, the drive stalled out in the red zone. Lewis Ward hit his 60th consecutive field goal and it was 9-3.

The first big offensive play of the half was a Davis sideline pass to Harris for 43 yards, the only thing stopping him from taking it home was a shoestring tackle. But he wasn’t done there. Just two plays later, Harris hauled in a 19-yard grab to put the ball on the two. It took a penalty and four plays from there but Davis plunged it in for the first touchdown of the game and it was a 9-9 tie at half.

Harris finished the game with 89 receiving yards, while Davis put up 268 passing yards on 23-for-37 throwing, two rushing touchdowns and an interception.

The first drive of the second half ended in a 50-yard Ward boot. The 10-play drive saw receiver Dominique Rhymes leave the game after tangling up with Taylor Loffler.

It took just one play for the Als to get points back. Adams found rookie Quan Bray wide open for a 75-yard touchdown. The receiver had about 12 yards between him and the closest defender when he caught the ball and just like that Montreal took the lead right back at 15-12. Bray had 134 yards on the afternoon.

Their offence kept rolling. Stanback, who kept quiet in the first two quarters, took off for 11 and 21 yards before Adams threw to Eugene Lewis who came down with the 39-yard reception. The pivot completed the touchdown drive with a short throw to Jake Wieneke.

Stanback had 100 yards rushing on 18 carries.

In the fourth, two missed calls proved costly for the Redblacks.

Avery Williams stripped the ball from Stanback but the referees ruled he was down before losing possession. Rick Campbell wasn’t allowed to challenge the ruling because he threw his challenge flag too late, so the Als drive continued. CFL Football Operations explained the ruling on Twitter.

“Teams may only challenge the play immediately prior to a TV timeout, during the first 30 seconds of said TV timeout. The Redblacks attempted to challenge the ruling on the field after the 30 second window had expired. The 30 second window is communicated to coaches through a green flag that is held in the air at mid-field between both benches by a member of the CFL Timing Crew.”

Shortly after, Adams threw to Bray on the sidelines and it was ruled a catch, but the replay showed the receiver did not have a foot in bounds. The Redblacks lost their challenge option from the Stanback play, so the catch stood. Adams called his own number the next play from eight yards out.

The Redblacks cut the lead to 29-18 with 5:15 to play. Davis took it in from the five after moving the ball through the air using four different receivers in the 78-yard series.

The Alouettes added a late touchdown and sent fans to the exits.

With the win, Montreal moves to 2-2 while Ottawa drops to the same record. The Redblacks are in tough next week against the 4-0 Bombers while the Als are at home against 3-1 Edmonton.

Grant Deme is a reporter and anchor in southwestern Ontario and a lifelong follower of the CFL.