Als beaten by Edmonton Eskimos
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, July 31, 2009 9:25AM EDT
The Edmonton Eskimos want to show their recent improved play isn't a fluke. A convincing win over the top team in the CFL is a pretty good start.
Fred Stamps reeled in a pair of touchdown passes as the Eskimos beat Montreal 33-19, handing the Alouettes their first loss of the season.
It was the second win in a row for the Eskimos (3-2), who avenged a 50-16 drubbing in Week 2 in Montreal and moved into first place in the West Division.
"It was a big win for us, no question," Stamps said. "We had a lot of new guys but it feels like our team is starting to come together now, starting to jell."
Edmonton head coach Richie Hall said he was glad to see his team build on last week's win over Saskatchewan, where the Eskimos came back from 22-0 to defeat the Roughriders 38-33.
"We'd like to think last week was a big stepping stone forward for our team," he said. "We wanted to prove that wasn't a fluke. It was important that we came back and played well two games in a row."
Plagued by turnovers early in the season, the Eskimos have done a better job taking care of the ball in their last two wins.
"When we got out and take care of what we are supposed to take care of individually where everybody is doing what they are supposed to do, we're a solid football team," Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray said. "If we go out and make mistakes like we did in the first three games, we are an average football team. The last couple weeks have been more like it."
Montreal, which had allowed a combined 61 points in their first four outings, dropped to 4-1. The Alouettes are still safely in first in the East with a four-point lead over Toronto and Hamilton.
"You have to give them credit defensively," said Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo. "They did a good job staying back, letting us catch the ball underneath and then making the tackle. They pretty much forced us to try and go mistake-free.
"It's never fun losing. We are going to try and learn from this and bounce back in our next game."
Montreal efficiently marched the ball up the field on its first two possessions, but Edmonton held them to a pair of Damon Duval field goals.
"When you look back at it we could have made a really big dent early in the game, on the road and taken the crowd of it right there," Calvillo said. "But it just wasn't there. It was a couple early mistakes that cost us."
Eskimos kicker Noel Prefontaine responded with a field goal of his own and the Alouettes held a 6-3 lead after the opening quarter.
Edmonton made it a one-point game in the sluggish start to the contest when Montreal conceded a safety.
The Eskimos finally had their first significant score with just under three minutes to play in the second quarter. Quarterback Ricky Ray eluded some pressure and dumped the ball off to Calvin McCarty for a five-yard touchdown and Edmonton took a 12-6 lead.
Duvall chipped in another field goal from 21 yards late in the quarter to cut Edmonton's lead to 12-9 at the half.
The Eskimos came out strong to start the third quarter with a long 88-yard drive, finished off by a 28-yard toss from Ray to Stamps in the end zone for a 10-point edge that stood up heading into the fourth quarter.
Edmonton extended its lead early in the fourth after another solid drive culminated in a one-yard plunge by Ray to put the Esks ahead 26-9.
Montreal recorded its first touchdown of the game with 7:40 to play after a 39-yard punt return by Larry Taylor eventually led to a one-yard TD run by Avon Cobourne to cut the score to 26-16.
The Eskimos looked like they were going to restore their lead after a 65-yard kick return from Arkee Whitlock, but Ray was picked off at the Alouettes 15 by Jerald Brown. A 31-yard field goal by Duval to cut the lead to a converted touchdown with three and a half minutes to play.
However the Eskimos rebounded under pressure as Ray was able to hit a wide-open Stamps for a 48-yard TD pass with two minutes remaining to put Edmonton back ahead with a comfortable margin.
The Als return home to host Toronto next Friday while the Eskimos don't suit up again until next Saturday in Hamilton.