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Alouettes prove no match for Riders following second-half meltdown


Montreal squandered a 13-11 halftime lead and was outscored 21-0 in the third quarter.

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REGINA — The Alouettes continue proving they’re not a second-half team.

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Montreal squandered a 13-11 halftime lead and was outscored 21-0 in the third quarter, en route to a 41-20 defeat against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Saturday night before 27,717 Mosaic Stadium spectators.

The Als blew a 10-point halftime lead at Calgary in their first game.

The Als manhandled the Riders, 37-13, June 23 at Molson Stadium for their first victory this season but now have a 1-3 record. The Riders improved to 3-1.

The Als didn’t produce an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter, on Walter Fletcher’s three-yard run. Chandler Worthy also returned a kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown, while David Côté added two field goals. Starting quarterback Trevor Harris was replaced by Vernon Adams Jr. late in the fourth quarter.

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Jamal Morrow scored a pair of touchdowns for the Riders, while quarterback Cody Fajardo added a third. Mitchell Picton caught an eight-yard touchdown, and Kian Schaffer-Baker scored on a 44-yard pass-and-run play. Nick Marshall also returned an interception 90 yards for a fourth-quarter score, while Brett Lauther kicked a 57-yard field goal.

The Als did a nice job offensively on their opening possession, thanks to passes of 27 yards to Hergy Mayala and a 17 yarder to Jake Wieneke, who returned to the active roster after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury.

Montreal eventually drove to the Riders’ three-yard line before quarterback Trevor Harris was sacked by Anthony Lanier, meaning the visitors had to settle for Côté’s 18-yard field goal at 9:29. The Als have had major difficulties this season completing drives.

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The Riders then immediately engineered an eight-play, 70-yard drive — thanks to a 40-yard pass to Tevin Jones. The series culminated in Fajardo’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Picton at 13:35.

But Worthy restored the Als’ lead with his electrifying kickoff return to the end zone. Worthy, signed by Montreal following his release by Toronto late in training camp, became the first player in team history to return kickoffs for touchdowns in consecutive games. He returned the opening kickoff for a score last week.

Harris fumbled early in the second quarter after being hit by Lanier; the ball was recovered by Pete Robertson at the Montreal 40. But the Als were fortunate to limit the damage when Lauther’s 48-yard field goal attempt was wide left for a single.

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A 32-yard punt return by Worthy put the Als in scoring position at the Saskatchewan 39. But Montreal again had to settle for a Côté field goal, this one from 38 yards, at 10:21, providing the visitors with a 13-8 lead.

Lauther cut into that margin with his long field goal at 13:50.

Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Frankie Hickson (20) is tackled by Montreal Alouettes corner back Rodney Randle Jr. (32) during first half CFL action at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday, July 2, 2022 in Regina.
Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Frankie Hickson (20) is tackled by Montreal Alouettes corner back Rodney Randle Jr. (32) during first half CFL action at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday, July 2, 2022 in Regina. Photo by TROY FLEECE /Regina Leader-Post

Things started to unravel, quickly, for the Als following the second-half kickoff. An unnecessary roughness penalty against Darius Williams put the ball in Montreal territory. A couple of passes to Schaffer-Baker set up Morrow’s 12-yard off-tackle run for a touchdown at 1:40. A two-point convert attempt was unsuccessful, giving the Riders a 17-13 lead.

An 11-play, 69-yard drive by Saskatchewan was capped by Fajardo’s one-yard run at 7:26. This time, the two-point convert was successful, giving the Riders a 25-13 advantage. It was on the series that defensive-tackle Michael Wakefield received his second misconduct penalty, resulting in an automatic ejection.

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Wakefield became the second Montreal player ejected this season, following middle-linebacker Tre Watson at Toronto last month.

After tailback Jeshrun Antwi fumbled on the Als’ next possession, Schaffer-Baker scored on his long pass-and-run play down the right sideline at 9:42.

The Als were limited to six offensive plays in the quarter.

Fletcher’s three-yard scoring run at 5:28 of the final period brought the Als closer, but the margin was still too difficult to overcome — especially on the road.

Montreal has a bye in the schedule next week before hosting Edmonton on July 14.

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

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