Wild things can happen in a CFL game’s final minutes. Anthony Calvillo knows that as well as anyone.
Calvillo’s Montreal Alouettes trailed the Calgary Stampeders by 12 points with 2:48 to play but roared back with touchdowns by S.J. Green and Patrick Lavoie to pull out a 33-32 victory in Montreal on Thursday night.
Rookie fullback Lavoie grabbed a Calvillo pass in the end zone to clinch the victory in the final minute after Jerald Brown picked off a pass but fumbled the ball, only to see teammate Kyries Hebert recover on the Calgary one yard line.
“There are a lot of new guys who have never been in this league and experienced that before,” said Calvillo. “As much as we stress that the last three minutes can last forever, this was a great example of it.”
“Whenever you can win like that it brings guys together. This locker room was buzzing with excitement and it’s good to see.”
Calvillo also hit Brian Bratton with a touchdown pass and backup quarterback Adrian McPherson ran one in for Montreal (2-1), which avenged a 38-10 loss in Calgary in their season opener on July 1.
Calgary backup quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell scored two short-yardage touchdowns and Jon Cornish ran one in, while Rene Paredes booted two field goals for Calgary (1-2).
The less-than-sellout crowd of 21,074 at Percival Molson Stadium watched the teams combine for five TDs in the fourth quarter after fighting a mainly defensive battle for 45 minutes.
The Stampeders were not sure what they’d get from veteran Kevin Glenn, who was forced into starting duties after Drew Tate was injured during last week’s loss in Toronto. Glenn recovered from a slow start to give his team what looked like a safe lead until one ill-considered pass cost them the game.
Cornish’s five-yard TD run at the 12:12 mark had Calgary up 32-20, but Montreal answered with Green’s seven-yard TD catch at 13:13 and then the pick-off of Glenn’s pass to the left side by Brown.
“We had a 12-point lead with very little time left in the game, but a little time in the CFL is a long time,” said Stampeders coach John Hufnagel. “Unfortunately, we made the one major mistake that gave them the lead.”
Brown said he could hardly run due to muscle spasms suffered earlier in the second half and went down before reaching the end zone after his interception because he felt he couldn’t hang on to the football. Hebert ended up saving the play.
“I couldn’t squeeze the ball,” said Brown. “I came out of the game, but then I tried to fight through it because we needed someone to make a play. I didn’t know it would be me who did it.”
It took Montreal three plays to get the game-winning score. Calvillo drilled a short pass at Lavoie, who bobbled the ball but hung on in the end zone.
“He came down with it, with contact in double coverage,” said Calvillo. “It was a huge play for us and it clinched the victory. You have to give him credit.”
Lavoie was Montreal’s top pick in this year’s draft and the Laval University product has two TDs in his first three CFL games.
Otherwise, it was a big night for the Calgary defence. They posted four sacks against a team that had allowed only one in their opening two games. They held Montreal to only five rushing yards. Brandon Whitaker, the league’s offensive player of the week, carried four times for minus-3 yards.
Montreal went into the intermission ahead 13-8 as the defence held the Stampeders to a field goal, two safeties and a single.
The highlight was Bratton’s 68-yard TD as he caught the ball and rolled on the field. When the Stamps’ defence didn’t touch him, he got up and ran the ball in at 11:14 of the first quarter.
A Romby Bryant fumble set up Whyte’s 39-yard field goal 1:11 into the second quarter and a 31-yard toss to Jamel Richardson allowed Whyte to hit from 30 yards at 4:12.
The Stampeders picked up five points in the final two minutes of the half, as Whyte was forced to concede the second safety of the game at 13:00 and Paredes hit from 46 yards at 14:00.
Calgary started the second half with an 11-play drive, kept alive by a fake punt play and a horsecollar call on Ventrell Jenkins, that was capped by Mitchell’s one-yard score.
The Stamps scored on their first two drives of the second half, as a fake field goal produced a first down on a drive capped by Mitchell’s one-yard TD plunge at 5:57.
After another field goal, the first drive of the fourth quarter also ended in a Mitchell one-yard TD at 2:57.
Falling behind by 12 points seemed to wake up the Alouettes, and Calvillo answered with a drive finished by McPherson’s one-yard end run for a TD at 7:35.
Calgary struck right back and Cornish, who had been contained through the first three quarters, got into the end zone from the five at 12:12. But Montreal matched straight back for Green’s seven-yard TD catch at 13:13.
Calvillo missed a day of practice this week with a sore shoulder from a hit last week, but was able to play even if he was unable to lift his left (non-throwing) arm. Coach marc tresman called his performance “courageous.”
Notes — Stampeder star Nik Lewis got more than the 42 yards he needed to pass Alouettes legend Hal Patterson for 23rd place in all-time receiving yards ... Former WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal was a guest of honour at the game. He will attempt to take the IBF title from Tavoris Cloud on Aug. 11.