Montreal Alouettes’ quarterback Trevor Harris believes that the CFL’s concussion spotter acted incorrectly in removing him from the final play in his team’s Week 8 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“I think it was pretty messed up that they pulled me off the field at the end, but it’s out of my control,” Harris told Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette. “I wish someone would come up and ask the player what’s going on. But they didn’t know what hurt and they assumed it’s your head and it’s a concussion.”
The Alouettes were down 24-17 and driving in the final minute when Harris took a late hit from safety Stavros Katsantonis on a scramble up the middle. The contact drew an unnecessary roughness penalty and put Montreal in a prime position to tie the game, but the league’s neutral medical spotter decided that Harris needed to be assessed for a head injury after being slow to get up.
The quarterback was forcibly pulled from the game and backup Dominique Davis was inserted with just eight seconds remaining on the clock. He had time to throw just one pass, a game-ending interception by Ticats’ strongside linebacker Kameron Kelly.
“That really sucks in that situation, because that obviously was the pivotal moment of the game,” Harris added post-game.
The controversial decision to have Harris removed marked the second time this season that CFL officials have pulled a starting quarterback on a game’s final drive. Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros was forced to the sideline with a suspected head injury in Week 1 and backup Dru Brown came off the bench to set up the game-winning field goal.
The Alouettes were not so fortunate, a fact that particularly stung Harris given that he insists he wasn’t suffering from a head injury. His slow recovery following the late hit was due to pain elsewhere in his body and would not have prevented him from attempting a game-tying touchdown.
“It was something else that was hurt but I know I could have played through it,” Harris stressed. “That’s why I got up and was ready to play. I was calling the play in the huddle. That stinks.”
Alouettes fans will never know if Harris could have made the difference on the final play, but that mystery will be far from their only gripe with CFL officials. Montreal came out on the losing end of every replay review in the game, but head coach Danny Maciocia refused to pass the blame for the loss on to the referees.
“I’m not going to talk about officiating,” Maciocia said. “We didn’t take advantage, especially in that first quarter. We had a couple of opportunities and couldn’t cash in.”