It was wild and crazy, but the Alouettes somehow found a way to beat the Redblacks winless.

“Keep finding a way. I don’t want to go through this every week, but for this week, I’m fine with it. Hopefully it’ll be a little easier,” coach Danny Maciocia said after the game.


OTTAWA — It was a game that had a little bit of everything, including lots of scoring and big plays, along with some iffy referees. And the result was in doubt until the last seconds.

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The Alouettes, known for blowing leads this season, held a 14-point lead over the winless Ottawa Redblacks with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But it seemed even that lead might not be secure after the home team scored a touchdown just over two minutes later. Montreal then failed to generate a first down and, with 1:59 remaining, saw the Redblacks go from their 11th to Montreal’s 24th before the series was stopped on the third down.

The Als somehow prevailed, 40-33 at TD Place on Thursday night. In those final two minutes alone, Montreal overcame a controversial pass interference penalty on Adarius Pickett (the call was unsuccessfully challenged even though the pass was nullified), along with penalties against Mike Moore for unnecessary roughness and roughing the passer who they were cancelled.

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And if Ottawa wide receiver Darvin Adams hadn’t dropped a pass in the end zone when it was wide open, this game probably would have gone into overtime.

To say that referee André Proulx and his team had problems would be an understatement. The game took three hours, 10 minutes to complete and clearly showed everything that is wrong with the CFL and why it is in a struggle to attract fans and interest. The amount of confusion over the Redblacks’ final offense from the referees was mind-boggling.

And when it was all said and done, Danny Maciocia said the amount of adversity his team had to overcome along the way could be a defining moment.

“We won,” the interim general manager and head coach said. “It was a great save from our defense. We handled adversity and put up 40 points tonight and found a way to stop them there. Chances are this team, maybe a week or two ago, would have conceded that score. We didn’t and that’s huge.

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“It’s actually good that we’ve been through all of this. I really think it’s a good thing. I’m not going to say we experienced everything, but we experienced quite a lot today. Maybe that’s what we needed, for it to be difficult; for people to support each other and for people to support each other. No finger pointing, no heads hanging in the sidelines. Keep believing, pushing and covering. Keep finding a way. I don’t want to experience this every week, but for this week, I’m fine with it. Hopefully it will be a little easier.”

The Als are 2-4 in the weak Eastern Division and could easily be at least 3-3, having lost three games by a combined five points. But they also experienced some problems against arguably the weakest team in the league. It could be suggested that Montreal was lucky to get away with victory.

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That’s not to say there weren’t some positives.

Trevor Harris had his most productive game this season, completing 25 of 31 passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he avoided throwing interceptions while using nine different receivers. Hergy Mayala caught five passes for 102 yards, scoring once, while Reggie White Jr. finally broke through, having five receptions for 99 yards.

After failing to score in the first quarter, all of Montreal’s damage was inflicted in the final 45 minutes. And while the Als struggled in the second half, they outscored Ottawa 22-19 after halftime. Harris was more effective with quick passing plays, throwing the ball faster than at any time this season.

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Montreal might have lost its composure after backup quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was surprisingly inserted for a play early in the fourth quarter, and he quickly fumbled at the Redblacks 19-yard line. But they bounced back and scored two touchdowns in the period.

“I think we’re capable of that,” Harris said. “It’s just a matter of us executing week after week. Our offense just needs to start faster. We needed a win.

“We were able to push the ball downfield a little bit and loosen up their zone coverage, get stuff under and get it to our playmakers. As long as we can spread the ball between our playmakers, we will always be in a good position.”

Adams wasn’t the only player struggling to secure the ball. Return specialist Chandler Worthy failed three times. Two were lost while the third resulted in an Ottawa safety. However, Maciocia said he never contemplated benching the electrifying player.

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“You have to believe in your people,” Maciocia said. “I don’t think it would have been a good message for us after everything he’s done. That’s part of going through that adversity.”

While the Als defensively generated just one turnover, it turned out to be huge. Najee Murray forced a fumble on a pass to Nate Behar that was recovered by middle linebacker Micah Awe. His 68-yard return to the Ottawa three-yard line ultimately resulted in a touchdown.

The Redblacks had 30 first downs and a net offense of 469 yards, but the Als’ defense stopped the final drive. In the end, that’s all that mattered.

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