Anthony Calvillo may only be a few days from 40, but you wouldn’t have known it on Friday night.
Calvillo passed for four touchdowns and 327 yards as the Montreal Alouettes vaulted into sole possession of first place in the CFL East with a convincing 38-25 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium.
“The game was won up front,” said Calvillo, who celebrates his birthday on Thursday. “The offensive linemen really put up a performance that was amazing. I didn’t get touched pretty much the entire game. Our defence won their side of the line of scrimmage. When you do that you are going to win a lot of games.”
“This was a huge win for us,” added backup quarterback Adrian McPherson, who scored Montreal’s fourth TD. “A lot of guys were injured, but other guys stepped up and made the most of the opportunity. It gives us some momentum.”
The Alouettes improved to 4-3, jumping ahead of both the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Ticats, who have three wins apiece.
“I truly believe we are getting better,” Calvillo said. “We’re playing at a level that we thought we should be playing. The challenge now is to stay there. Earlier in the year we were taking one step forward, one step back. This was two steps forward.”
The Eskimos dropped to 4-3 with their first loss at Commonwealth Stadium, remaining in a first-place tie in the West with the B.C. Lions.
“I’m extremely disappointed in our efficiency,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “Montreal came out and executed exceptionally well and we did everything except execute. We tried to dig ourselves out of a hole but that Montreal team is to good to try and dig yourselves back from a 28-point hole.”
Montreal wasted no time getting on the board on their first possession with a surgical march down the field capped off by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Calvillo to fullback Patrick Lavoie.
Montreal’s next drive wasn’t nearly as clean as Calvillo was picked off on his own 32-yard line by linebacker J.C. Sherritt. But on the very next play, Edmonton gave it right back as Steven Jyles was intercepted on the goal line by Montreal’s Kyries Hebert.
The Alouettes forced another turnover late in the opening quarter as the Esks turned over the ball on downs at their own 32 after a botched punt attempt. Calvillo made the most of the gaffe, passing for a 30-yard TD to Brian Bratton for a 14-0 lead.
Montreal continued to dominate into the second quarter as Calvillo found Victor Anderson for a 21-yard passing TD. He followed that up with a 37-yard pass to Brandon London to set up a one-yard plunge by McPherson for a 28-0 lead midway through the second.
Edmonton responded with a punt single, earning a mocking cheer from the crowd.
The cheers turned real with a minute remaining in the half as a pass interference call in the end zone led to a one-yard plunge by backup quarterback Kerry Joseph as the Eskimos cut the score to 28-8 at the half.
The two teams traded field goals in the third before Calvillo struck again, hitting S.J. Green for a 62 yard gain before finding Green again for a 13-yard touchdown and a 38-11 lead heading into the final quarter.
Edmonton came back with a single on a missed field goal before adding seven points on a 19-yard scoring pass from Jyles to Greg Carr on the heels of a Rod Williams interception.
The Eskimos made the score look much more favourable with five minutes remaining as a Montreal punt hit an Alouettes player and was scooped up for a five-yard TD by Clint Kent.
The Alouettes return home to face Hamilton next Thursday. The Eskimos are off until Monday, Aug. 27, when they travel to Toronto to face Ricky Ray and the Argos.
Notes: Edmonton Eskimos running back Cory Boyd made his debut. The league-leading rusher in the CFL through six games, Boyd was released by the Toronto Argonauts and signed by Edmonton in a flurry of activity Sunday. Boyd was used sparingly in his debut behind Hugh Charles. ... Out of the lineup with injuries for the Alouettes were running back Brandon Whitaker (ribs) and receiver Jamel Richardson (hamstring). ... Calvillo, who turns 40 on Thursday, entered the match as the league’s leading passer. ... Edmonton now has a five-game losing skid against Montreal extending to July 30, 2009... Friday’s match was the 300th regular season game played at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.