Argonauts down Alouettes 27-20, headed to Grey Cup game on home turf
MONTREAL - The Toronto Argonauts are going to the Grey Cup game.
Quarterback Ricky Ray turned in an impressive performance and Chad Owens had a record-setting day in the Argonauts' 27-20 victory over the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division final Sunday before 50,112 at Olympic Stadium.
The Argonauts reached the CFL championship game for the first time since 2004, when they won their 15th Grey Cup with a victory over B.C.
The game next Sunday against the West Division champion will be played at Rogers Centre, the Argonauts' home field.
Owens piled up 207 receiving yards on 11 catches — a Toronto playoff record — and was the main target of the veteran Ray who was throwing strikes from the pocket all afternoon.
Ray threw a touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman and Chad Kackert scored on a long touchdown run. Swayze Waters added three field goals for Toronto, which had lost to Montreal in three previous East final meetings.
Chris Jennings and backup quarterback Adrian McPherson had touchdowns for Montreal. Sean Whyte added two field goals.
Montreal had a chance to tie the game with 39 seconds remaining, but Brian Bratton dropped a third-down pass in the end zone.
Toronto's first-year coach Scott Milanovich, who was offensive co-ordinator in Montreal last season, said this week that turnovers would be key and there were certainly plenty of them.
Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo threw three interceptions in the second half — two of them to Marcus Ball —while Toronto gave away the ball twice on fumbles and twice on downs.
Trailing 17-10 at the half, the Argonauts tied the game on their first drive, marching 101 yards on four plays including a 69-yard toss to Owens that was stopped at the two with a desperate tackle from Dwight Anderson. Ray hit Inman with a TD pass.
Ball then picked off a Calvillo pass and four plays later, Kackert ran 49 yards straight up the middle for another TD and a 24-17 lead.
A Chip Cox run on a fake punt kept Montreal's answering drive alive for a field goal, but the Argos answered with three points of their own.
Missed opportunities by Toronto and a tight Montreal defence in the red zone marked a tentative first half.
Toronto coughed up the ball on its first two possessions to give Montreal a 10-0 lead.
A Kackert fumble was recovered by Ollie Ogbu on the Alouettes' 46 and was converted to Whyte's 25-yard field goal.
Montreal pounded the ball up the middle after taking over on a turnover on downs, capped by Jennings' 18-yard TD run at 11:03.
Ray responded with a long drive highlighted by Maurice Mann's 32-yard catch. Waters would split the uprights from 22 yards out.
After a punt single, Ray marched the ball to the Montreal one. But the Argonauts sent in backup quarterback Jarious Jackson and he failed to punch in the ball on three tries and Toronto gave it up on downs.
The sequence produced a safety, however, and Toronto picked up another single on their next set of downs to make it 10-7.
Calvillo hit Jamel Richardson with a 49-yard pass as Montreal struck right back with McPherson's one-yard TD plunge, and Toronto settled for a field goal with the final drive of the first half after failing to score from the five.
The crowd went silent early in the fourth quarter when linebacker Marc-Olivier Brouillette was injured on a kickoff return and lay motionless on the field.
Players on both teams knelt on the field as the Montreal native was taken away on a stretcher. There was no immediate word on his condition.