June 21st, 2024

Defending-champion Alouettes begin pre-season with 30-13 win over Argonauts

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on May 25, 2024.

Montreal Alouettes running back Jeshrun Antwi (20) tries to rush past Toronto Argonauts defensive back Tarvarus McFadden (4) during first half pre-season CFL football action in Montreal, Saturday, May 25, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

MONTREAL – Quarterback Cody Fajardo completed an early touchdown pass and the defending Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes defeated the Toronto Argonauts 30-13 in CFL pre-season action Saturday night.

Fajardo connected with Canadian receiver Kaion Julien-Grant on a 48-yard throw to open the scoring. He finished with 107 passing yards on 7-for-8 completions in less than a quarter of action for Montreal, which dressed most of its starters in front of 13,787 fans at Molson Stadium.

Davis Alexander went 10-for-12 for 89 passing yards and ran in a touchdown. Caleb Evans threw one touchdown and completed 10-of-15 attempts for 92 yards while rushing for 32 in a battle for the backup quarterback spot.

Toronto pivot Cameron Dukes was 4-for-6 for 51 yards with one touchdown and an interception, picked off by Alouettes defensive back Nafees Lyon.

The second-year Dukes is expected to fill in for star QB Chad Kelly. The reigning most outstanding player is suspended a minimum of nine regular-season games for violating the league’s gender-based violence policy.

The Argos re-signed veteran Nick Arbuckle last week to add depth at the position. Arbuckle went 7-for-13 for 93 yards before giving way to Bryan Scott, who threw 109 yards on 10-for-12 completions.

Ka’Deem Carey, the CFL rushing leader in 2022, ran 19 yards on three attempts in his debut in an Argos uniform.

Canadian running back Walter Fletcher ran 14 yards on three carries in the starting role with last year’s No. 1 option William Stanback gone to the B.C. Lions. Ohio State alum Mike Weber Jr. rushed for 22 yards.

Veteran defensive lineman Shawn Lemon took the field on defence for Montreal despite facing a sports-gambling suspension.

Lemon is appealing an indefinite ban from the league for betting on games, including one he played in, and is eligible to resume practising and playing until an arbitrator renders a decision.

Montreal kicker David Cote completed both his field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder, and backup Jose Maltos was 1-for-1. Alfredo Gachuz Lozada went 2-for-2 for the Argos.

Julien-Grant scored at 11:01 of the first quarter by hauling in a deep throw from Fajardo on third down before fighting through two defenders into the end zone.

The Argonauts tied the game in the following series as Dukes found Justin Marshall with a 13-yard touchdown pass on third down.

Lyon intercepted Dukes late in the quarter for a 33-yard return, leading to Cote’s second field goal to give the Alouettes a 13-7 lead.

Alexander rushed for a one-yard touchdown at 8:16 of the second quarter. After Geoffrey Cantin-Arku recovered a fumble, Alexander completed five passes to get Montreal down the field before scoring to make it 20-7.

Evans put the Alouettes up 30-13 at 6:39 of the fourth quarter by finding Jose Barbon for a four-yard touchdown to cap a 107-yard drive.

Montreal defensive back Darion Mckenzie recovered a fumble by Scott with two minutes left to effectively end the game.

UP NEXT

Alouettes: Visit the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday to wrap up pre-season play. Montreal opens the CFL season on June 6 in Winnipeg for a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup against the Blue Bombers.

Argos: Host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to finish the pre-season Friday. Toronto entertains the B.C. Lions on June 9 to begin its 2024 campaign.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2024.

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