Veteran QB Harris falls short in first start for Alouettes

Montreal failed to generate a point in the final 28 minutes in a 31-21 loss to Winnipeg.

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The Alouettes proved they could play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Saturday night for three quarters. Unfortunately, there are no moral victories for getting close in professional sports.

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Despite veteran quarterback Trevor Harris’ first start since joining Montreal, the Als fell short, losing 31-21 to the Bombers in front of 22,933 spectators at IG Field in Winnipeg.

Harris passed for two touchdowns: six yards to Reggie White Jr. and one of seven to Jake Wieneke. Defensive end Jamal Davis also recovered a fumble and returned it 19 yards to score.

Harris, acquired last month in a trade from Edmonton, completed 14 of 25 passes for 177 yards. He also threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Running back William Stanback gained 106 yards on 16 carries.

Montreal failed to generate a point in the final 28 minutes.

Zach Collaros passed 10 yards to Nic Demski and 24 yards to Drew Wolitarsky for Bomber touchdowns. Backup quarterback Sean McGuire also scored on a two-yard run. Sergio Castillo had three field goals and a single.

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It was the second straight loss for the Alouettes. Although Montreal has clinched a playoff spot, it remains third in the East Division, with a 6-6 record. Winnipeg won its ninth consecutive game, improving to 11-1. The Bombers were undefeated at home for the first time since 1984.

Things didn’t start well for Montreal despite winning two first downs in their opening series. But when they were forced to clear, a high shot from Alexandre Gagné went over the head of Joseph Zema, giving the Bombers possession at the Montreal 33.

Five plays later, including a 12-yard pass to Rasheed Bailey, Collaros’ shovel pass to Demski opened the scoring at 6:24.

The Als, to their credit, kept their composure. On the Bombers’ next trip, running back Brady Oliveira fumbled after being hit by Nick Usher. The ball was recovered by Davis, who entered for the tying touchdown at 7:58.

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Oliveira was replacing Andrew Harris, who came out with a knee injury.

Winnipeg designed another impressive unit to complete the first quarter. The series began with a 20-yard pass to Kenny Lawler. Two plays later, Collaros found Wolitarsky for 11 yards. Then, following a pass interference penalty against defenseman Najee Murray and an 11-yard catch from Demski, Castillo kicked a 22-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.

Castillo, a 2019 CFL All-Star, was making his debut with the Bombers after spending last season with the New York Jets. He becomes Winnipeg’s fourth different place kicker this season.

After the Bombers added a single on a wide field goal from Castillo, the Alouettes engineered a four-play 75-yard drive to take their first lead.

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Harris passed 29 yards to Wieneke before Stanback gained 34 yards. With that run, he surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier for the second consecutive season. After Stanback gained another six yards, Harris found White in the end zone for his first CFL touchdown at 11:47.

Castillo’s 34-yard field goal in the final minute of the quarter sent teams tied 14-14 into halftime.

Montreal rushed out to start the second half with Harris leading his team on a four-play, 68-yard drive.

The series began with a 39-yard pass to Quan Bray. Stanback then gained 19 yards to Winnipeg’s 10. Following a shortstop from Cameron Artis-Payne, the former Carolina Panther, Harris connected with Wieneke in the back of the end zone at 2:04, giving the Als a 21-14 lead.

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But that was all Montreal managed offensively in the fourth and the visitors failed to generate another first down in the period.

The Bombers tied the score after a four-play 64-yard drive that included a 23-yard catch by Darvin Adams. After a 13-yard pass to Demski, Wolitarsky took advantage of a breakdown in the Alouettes’ secondary for the touchdown at 9:42.

When the quarter came to a close, Collaros led the Bombers on a nine-play, 82-yard drive. A 44-yard pass to Lawler put the Bombers in scoring position and, on the second play of the fourth quarter, McGuire scored in the shortstop, giving Winnipeg a 28-21 lead.

Montreal has a chance for revenge next Saturday afternoon when the teams meet again at Molson Stadium.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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