Alouettes beat up on Argonauts to win team-record 15th game

The Canadian Press
11/8/2009 8:34:45 AM
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TORONTO -- Should the unthinkable happen to starter Anthony Calvillo in the playoffs, Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman has a viable alternative in sophomore quarterback Adrian McPherson.

McPherson threw two TD passes as Montreal dispatched the Toronto Argonauts 42-17 for their club-record 15th win of the year in the CFL regular-season finale for both clubs Saturday.

With Montreal (league-best 15-3) having already cemented top spot in the East Division and home-field advantage for the conference final Nov. 22, Trestman gave McPherson the start with Calvillo serving as the No. 3 quarterback behind backup Chris Leak. McPherson looked very comfortable under centre, leading the Alouettes on a four-play, 62-yard scoring drive he capped with a one-yard TD strike to Brandon Whitaker on the club's opening possession. He finished 16-of-20 passing for 151 yards and ran for 55 yards before giving way to Leak to open the fourth.

"My biggest focus was I wanted my teammates to feel comfortable and confident in me," said McPherson. "My biggest thing was not to put pressure on myself.

"This game meant everything to us because we wanted to finish strong going into the playoffs."

The start was McPherson's second in three weeks. With Calvillo out due to a calf injury, McPherson was 20-of-35 passing for 231 yards and a TD while rushing 11 times for 95 yards in a 41-24 loss to Winnipeg on Oct. 24.

"I thought he played well in the first game," Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman said. "He protected the football well and if he does that, this team will be in a position to win.

"I think we saw a team willing to give him the support he deserved."

Montreal picked up its eighth win in nine games and swept the season series 3-0, outscoring Toronto 94-25. The Alouettes were 6-3 on the road and a perfect 9-0 at home.

It was also a record-setting day for Montreal kicker Damon Duval. He had a club-record seven field goals and 24 points to boost his single-season points total to a league-record 242, breaking the mark of 236 set in 1991 by former Argo Lance Chomyc.

"He's as good as there is," McPherson said of his kicker. "As soon as we cross the 50-yard line, we know he's in range."

Leak finished 7-of-10 passing for 44 yards. He and McPherson did a nice job of distributing the ball as 10 different Alouettes had catches.

"The thing about this offence is everyone is a valuable receiver," McPherson said. "Everyone is an option."

Montreal won convincingly despite generously sprinkling backups in the lineup on both sides of the ball with the game having no bearing on the East Division standings. Calvillo did dress but such stalwarts as running back Avon Cobourne and kick-returner Larry Taylor did not.

That was of little solace to or advantage for the sad-sack Argos (3-15), who were still overmatched before a surly Rogers Centre gathering of 28,293.

"The whole season was disappointing," said veteran defensive lineman Jonathan Brown. "That game was even worse."

The one-sided decision was the latest disappointment in what's been a disastrous year for first-year head coach Bart Andrus. Toronto finished the season on an eight-game losing streak and lost its last four home contests to drop to 1-8 overall at Rogers Centre. The 3-15 record is the franchise's worst since posting a similiar mark in '93.

Toronto also fell to 0-6 against Montreal, its last win coming Oct. 20, 2007.

Afterwards, Andrus only spoke about the game and not what steps the organization might take in the off-season.

"Just the way the game unfolded was disappointing to me," said Andrus. "I see these guys doing better than this.

"It was not acceptable to me and these guys."

Andrus, who drew the ire of Argos fans all season for questionable coaching decisions, did so again to end the second quarter. Facing third-and-one from the Montreal 47-yard line on the half's final play, he opted to punt rather than throw deep for a touchdown. The result was Justin Medlock's 67-yard single, which cut the Als' half-time advantage to 26-4 and drew a sarcastic cheer from the disgruntled Toronto faithful.

Andrus, also Toronto's offensive co-ordinator, raised eyebrows when trailing 39-14 in the fourth he had Medlock boot a 27-yard field goal at 8:24 instead of trying for a first down.

The offence under first-year quarterback Stephen Reaves, 23-of-40 passing for 209 yards and four interceptions, struggled to muster 157 total yards against the Als' top-ranked defence.

"A lot of good, a lot of bad," Andrus said of Reaves. "He got the baptism by fire against the toughest team in the CFL.

"He made some good reads, two of his interceptions came when he was hit throwing the ball."

Reaves stepped up and shouldered the blame for Toronto's offensive woes.

"I made bad decisions and put the defence in a bind by giving them (Als) a short field," Reaves said. "I want to take a few of them back.

"Hopefully I'll learn from it."

It was Fan Appreciation Day at the Rogers Centre but the Argos didn't give their fans much to cheer about, committing six turnovers. Toronto's usually stout defence wasn't immuned either. While the unit registered three sacks, it didn't get much pressure on either McPherson or Leak and overall tackled poorly.

Kerry Watkins and Paul Woldu had Montreal's other touchdowns. Duval added the converts.

Jamal Robertson had Toronto's lone touchdown. Medlock had three field goals, a convert and single.

NOTES -- Back judge Don Ellis worked in his 500th career game, making him just the sixth official in league history to reach that lofty plateau . . . Linebacker Jason Pottinger and safety James Green, both members of Toronto's special teams, didn't dress due to the flu.

Bart Andrus (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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