Backup quarterback Kevin Glenn and quarterback-turned-receiver Brad Sinopoli had a lot to smile about after leading the Calgary Stampeders to victory.
Glenn, filling in for the injured Drew Tate, passed for 268 yards and hit Nik Lewis for a touchdown pass. Sinopoli made five grabs in his debut as a receiver as the Stampeders downed the struggling Montreal Alouettes 22-14 on Friday night.
The Montreal defence did well to hold Calgary mainly to field goals, but even there, Rene Parades went 5-for-5 to stretch his string of successful boots to 25, the third longest in CFL history.
“It was a gutsy effort,” said Calgary coach John Hufnagel. “I thought Kevin played a heck of a game.
“He extended plays and moved the ball down the field.”
And the Stampeders (2-1) and Alouettes (1-2) get to do it all over again when they complete a back-to-back series next Saturday in Calgary.
The Alouettes were marginally better than in their 19-11 loss last week to Winnipeg, but still laboured to move the ball after the opening drive, which ended with Anthony Calvillo’s TD pass to Brandon London.
Their only other score came late in the game on a punt block and recovery by defensive back Ed Gainey.
The loss was extra painful as veteran guard Scott Flory left in the third quarter with what appeared to be a serious biceps injury and did not return. Montreal had placed their other starting guard, Andrew Woodruff, on the nine-game disabled list earlier in the day, reportedly with a concussion.
“We’re trying to improve but we’ve got to get our act together,” said Calvillo, who completed 22 of 36 passes for 205 yards. “We just lost two (in a row) at home and I can’t remember the last time we did that (September 2006).
“It’s an improvement from last week, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
The Alouettes are used to winning, especially at home. But they are struggling to find their offensive game under a new coaching staff led by Dan Hawkins, who had no pro coaching experience when he succeeded Marc Trestman.
The defence has been mostly solid, and the special teams are better than last year’s squad, whch at least keeps the scores close.
The offence did a better job of preventing sacks and letting Calvillo throw the ball, and the running game was somewhat better, but there were far too many two-and-outs. Montreal had possession for only 23:42 compared to 36:18 for Calgary.
“Of course I’m upset, being in this locker room and seeing the guys on defence and special teams and with us (the offence) just devastated,” Calvillo said. “The defence say they have our back, and we have to contribute more. We just have to.”
Glenn was good on 22 of 28 passes, including six to Lewis and five to Sinopoli, for 81 yards each. Jon Cornish carried 18 times for 90 yards.
Sinopoli, whose performance included a spectacular one-handed catch for 42 yards in the third quarter, did his best to make it in the CFL it as a Canadian quarterback until this season. His future is now as a receiver. And he certainly looks up to the task.
“I’ve always had confidence in myself and I guess it was matter if proving it when I got my opportunity,” he said. “I made mistakes like anyone would, but I want to learn from those and hopefully go up from here.”
“He’s catching balls in the dark part of the field, fighting for yards, and he extended drives,” said Hufnagel. “So I was very pleased with Brad.”
Lewis caught his 63rd TD pass to move into second place in Stampeders’ history behind Tom Forzani.
The Alouettes looked their old selves as they scored on their first possession, marching 81 yards on 11 plays capped by Calvillo’s 19-yard TD pass to London 7:50 into the game.
They didn’t get another first down until late in the half, while Glenn led drives topped by Paredes’ field goals of 20 and 22 yards.
Another drive aided by a long pass interference call ended with Glenn’s nine-yard TD pass to Lewis, which was tipped at the line and dropped into the veteran receiver’s hands. It gave Calgary the 13-7 halftime lead.
Paredes’ boots of 18 and 39 yards were the only scoring in the second half until Gainey blocked a Rob Maver punt and ran it in from 38 yards with 3:48 left in the game, which finally got the 23,184 at Percival Molson Stadium on their feet.
But two late possessions stalled and Parades added another from 39 yards in the final minute.
Since their return to Montreal in 1996, the Alouettes have only lost their first two home games of a season twice, in 1996 and 2007.
Calvillo threw a TD pass in a 20th straight game, one short of his personal best, and he passed the 79,000-yard mark in career passing yards, stretching his own record.
The Stampeders lost linebacker Malik Jackson to an injury in the first quarter.
Notes: The Alouettes wore a black sticker on their helmets for victims of last week’s train disaster in Lac Megantic, Que. They also collected funds for the Red Cross at the gates... Montreal guard Woodruff was replaced by American Michael Ola, while backup Kristian Matte took over when Flory was hurt... Linebacker Jonathan Hefney was among Calgary’s scratches.