The Argonauts save themselves with a victory in extremis of 24-23

Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes tried hard to get closer to the Argonauts and first place in the East, but the Torontonians were stronger and came away with a 24-23 victory, in front of 19,226 spectators at Percival-Molson Stadium .

Danny Maciocia’s squad got caught with too many players on the field on Boris Bede’s field goal attempt, which missed from 47 yards. Chandler Worthy, however, had one foot outside the field when capturing the ball, making it impossible to return. The Argos therefore refused the penalty and took the famous single granted for a missed game in the Ambrosie circuit to win.

« It’s unacceptable that we weren’t able to hold the Argos in their zone to force overtime on this streak, » Maciocia said. At the very least, when there are 12 seconds left, we must prevent them from progressing so that they do not attempt a placement.

None of that happened and the Alouettes (8-9) are thus eliminated from the race for first place in the East.

« It’s a great victory, we knew we needed to win this game, » said Argonauts linebacker Henoc Muamba. (The break in the first elimination round) will allow us to rest a little. We were up against a good team and the guys responded well.”

Eugene Lewis tied the game with two spectacular catches in the final minute, including one diving into the end zone to catch Trevor Harris’ pass (25 for 33, 413 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) and make it 23-23 after David Côté converts.

A touchdown from Chad Kelly on a one-yard quarterback sneak with 2:23 left gave the Argos an 11-6 lead. On this push, twice the Alouettes’ defense (8-9) had joined quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thomspon behind his line of scrimmage, but two penalties, for illegal contact on a receiver and grabbing the quarterback’s facial protector, allowed visitors to continue on their way.

Markeith Ambles and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. scored the other touchdowns for the Argos, who benefited from a safety touchdown. Running back AJ Ouellette had a strong game, with 92 yards on 14 carries and 31 yards on three catches. Bethel-Thompson was efficient, passing 20 of 29 for 240 yards and two touchdowns. He made an interception. Bede missed his two field goal attempts, on 49 and 47 yards. He still gave the victory to his club…

Côté meanwhile succeeded on his three attempts, on 42, 26 and 47 yards.

Farewell first place

In doing so, the Argos took the title in the East and the Alouettes finished in second place. They will host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the Eastern semi-final in Montreal on November 6th. The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 32-21 loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night confirmed the Ti-Cats’ playoff berth.

« It’s frustrating. We had a goal. We still have it, but we will have to take a different route, which now goes through Toronto,” Lewis said.

However, the Alouettes had started the first quarter well. Two good punt returns from Worthy — on 38 and 34 yards — allowed the offense to quickly reach the paying zone on their first two ball possessions. An interception by Jonathan Jones on a pass from Harris intended for Régis Cibasu (returned for 40 yards) and the solid play of the Argos defense, which stopped the Alouettes’ attack three times when it was posted at the line of 4, however, cut short the aspirations of the locals.

« Every time we lose a close game like this, there are questions about the decisions we made, » Harris said of the decision on both occasions to go on third down. Both times we were inside the 15 line and didn’t score a point. It’s our fault.”

“We have already done studies internally: with a score of 0-0, to make a field goal and give them the ball at 40, 38% of times the other team scores a touchdown or a field goal, explained Maciocia. So we wanted to be aggressive and, at worst, keep them in their zone.

“I had already spoken about it with the players at the beginning of the week. Everyone agreed with the idea of ​​playing aggressively. (…) I would not have dared to face them after asking for a placement of the line of 1.

The Argos then dealt a heavy blow on their next possession: posted at the visitors’ one-line, the offense went 109 over seven plays, a streak capped by Ambles’ touchdown on a three-yard pass from Bethel- Thompson.

The Alouettes weren’t able to generate anything on offense for the rest of the half, but went into the locker room anyway, trailing only 7-3.

The second half was exciting, but once again this season, the Alouettes fell short.

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