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Alouettes hand sloppy Blue Bombers loss to open CFL campaign


WINNIPEG — Tyson Philpot and Cody Fajardo believe the Montreal Alouettes have shown they’re the real deal.

Fajardo threw a pair of touchdown passes to Philpot and the Alouettes continued their success against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with a 27-12 victory in the CFL's season opener on Thursday.

The Grey Cup rematch comes after the Alouettes upset the Blue Bombers 28-24 in last year’s championship game with Philpot’s winning TD grab in the dying seconds.

“It’s showing that wasn’t a fluke and showing that we can be a standard just like Winnipeg has been a standard for the last four seasons,” Philpot said.

On Thursday, Fajardo threw touchdown passes of 14 and 76 yards to Philpot. Backup quarterback Caleb Evans ran in a TD in front of 30,140 fans at Princess Auto Stadium.

Fajardo completed 20 of 28 pass attempts for 254 yards and one interception.

Earlier in the week, he said he wanted to prove the Alouettes were the best team in the league. The victory was a “huge” step.

“I thought that was a statement game — offensively, defensively, special teams,” Fajardo said. “It never really was close and I was really proud of the way the guys performed, especially against a really good Winnipeg team.”

The Bombers struggled in all three phases of the game.

Quarterback Zach Collaros threw an interception, receiver Nic Demski had a fumble, rookie kick returner Myron Mitchell coughed up the ball on a punt and Sergio Castillo missed two field-goal attempts.

Collaros connected on 20 of 33 passing attempts for 209 yards with one pick.

“It obviously wasn’t up to our standard,” Collaros said. “Not good enough. Disappointing, frustrating, all those things, especially (because we) did not play well in front of the home crowd.

“I certainly wish I played better. … I have to do a heck of a lot better for us and we’ll improve.”

Montreal kicker David Cote was good on field goals from 19 and 22 yards and made two of three converts. Joseph Zema added a punt single.

Running back Johnny Augustine scored Winnipeg’s lone TD on a one-yard run with 1:08 left in the fourth quarter.

Castillo booted a 17-yard field goal for Winnipeg, but missed attempts from 38 and 40 yards, and went wide on a convert.

Montreal led 7-3 after the first quarter, 14-5 at halftime and 18-5 heading into the fourth.

Turnovers gave each team their first points of the game.

Fajardo was intercepted by Bombers linebacker Brian Cole, leading to Castillo’s 17-yard field goal 8:35 into the game.

Montreal punted on the following drive, but Mitchell fumbled and Alouettes defensive back Bryce Cosby recovered the ball at Winnipeg’s 14-yard line.

Fajardo used the gift to toss a pass to Philpot, who slipped by two Winnipeg defenders and ran into the end zone at 10:48.

The Alouettes took at 14-3 lead six minutes into the second quarter with Evans’ one-yard TD plunge.

Collaros had a pass picked off in the end zone by safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy, but Montreal ended up punting.

Winnipeg failed on two attempts to gain points late in the half.

Bombers receiver Dalton Schoen was about to snare a pass in the end zone, but defensive back Dionte Ruffin got his hand on the ball.

Castillo’s 38-yard field-goal attempt then went wide left.

Winnipeg netted a safety after James Letcher Jr. ran the ball out over the goal line but then turned around and went back into the end zone.

A pass-and-run play by Demski early in the third quarter ended with him fumbling and Ruffin recovered the ball.

The turnover led to Cote’s 19-yard field to make it 17-5 at 4:49, and Zema added a single four minutes later.

After a single from Castillo’s missed 40-yarder, Cote booted a 22-yard field goal.

Philpot’s catch-and-run covered 76 yards, but Cote missed the point after to make it 27-6.


Castillo pointed to computer chips in the footballs as part of the problem with his kicks. The chips collect statistical data used by the league.

“Over camp, if I went 60 per cent that was a great day. And when we went with normal balls, 90-plus per cent. The whole camp,” Castillo said.

It’s a trajectory issue, he said.

“Every time I'm out there, I'm literally praying the rosary,” Castillo said. “I don't know where to aim."

He added that his counterparts across the league are experiencing similar issues and have brought their concerns to the league's attention.


Bombers receiver Kenny Lawler left the game midway through the second quarter with what appeared to be a hand or arm injury after making a catch. He didn’t return.

Alouettes linebacker Reggie Stubblefield left the field on a cart with 35 seconds left in the third quarter after injuring his right leg.

Stubblefield was on crutches with a brace around his right knee after the game. Montreal head coach Jason Maas said tests will determine how serious the injury is.


Bombers: Travel to Ottawa to play the Redblacks on June 13.

Alouettes: Play the Elks in Edmonton on June 14.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.