With the sport on the road, Cody Fajardo and Tyson Philpot delivered the Montreal Alouettes a impossible Gray Cup title.
Fajardo’s 19-yard TD cross to Philpot with 15 seconds remaining rallied Montreal to an exciting 28-24 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday in Hamilton. It earned the Alouettes their first CFL title since 2010 and adopted an unsure low season that noticed the franchise taken over by the league in February, then bought a month later to businessman Pierre Karl Peladeau.
Fajardo’s toss capped a stellar seven-play, 83-yard march. It included a clutch 31-yard completion to Cole Spieker on third-and-five earlier than a Tim Hortons Area sellout of 28,808 as Montreal ended its season with eight straight wins.
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“While you develop up as a child, you all the time need the ball in your fingers with the sport on the road on the largest stage,” Fajardo stated. “I keep in mind taking the sector, I used to be so calm.
“I do know as soon as Cole went up and made that play, I stated, ‘It’s all occurring for a motive.”‘
Winnipeg had a ultimate probability to drag out a comeback win. Zach Collaros accomplished a cross to punter Jamieson Sheahan, who tried in addition the ball into the endzone but it surely fell quick and was recovered by Montreal.
WATCH | Alouettes again on high of CFL:
“He [Fajardo] channelled his interior Ricky Ray,” stated Montreal defensive lineman Shawn Lemon, who received a Gray Cup with Ray in Toronto in 2017. “Possibly it was the moustache however we did it.
‘Cool, calm and picked up’
Fajardo additionally earned his first victory in 10 profession head-to-head matchups versus Collaros.
Philpot, 23, of Delta, B.C., was the highest Canadian with six catches for 63 yards. He stated there was a quiet confidence in Montreal’s huddle on the game-winning drive.
“Cool, calm and picked up,” he stated. “We knew all sport they weren’t stopping us, it was us stopping ourselves.
“So we needed to do our jobs, take it little by little and march it down the sector. That’s what we did.”
Winnipeg, within the Gray Cup for a fourth straight 12 months, suffered a second consecutive loss after beating Hamilton in 2019 and ’21. The Toronto Argonauts edged the Bombers 24-23 final 12 months.
“You have a look at your complete sport and we’re a couple of performs quick,” stated Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea. “That’s about it.
“And so they made some performs. They generated some performs in good, well timed positions.”
Fajardo has ‘given all the things he’s needed to this staff’
Fajardo completed 21-of-26 passing for 290 yards with three TDs and an interception to assert MVP honours. He received his first Gray Cup as a starter after incomes a hoop with Toronto in 2017 as a backup.
Heady stuff, contemplating little was anticipated this season from Montreal, which misplaced quarterback Trevor Harris and receiver Eugene Lewis in free company. However GM Danny Maciocia employed head coach Jason Maas and signed Fajardo when Saskatchewan moved on from each — Maas was the Roughriders’ offensive co-ordinator — after dropping their ultimate seven regular-season video games to overlook the CFL playoffs.
Fajardo significantly contemplated retirement earlier than signing with Montreal. This week, Fajardo known as the Alouettes “a band of misfit toys.”
“Danny provided me a two-year deal when most groups had been providing me a one-year deal and that’s what solidified it for us,” he stated. “My spouse [Laura] stated, ‘You’re not performed but, you’re not going to exit the way in which we did shedding seven straight and principally getting booted out of [Saskatchewan].
“I owe all the things to her, I owe this evening to her.”
Maas earned his fourth Gray Cup however first as a head coach. His first two got here as a quarterback with Edmonton (2003, ’05) earlier than successful in 2012 as Toronto’s quarterback coach.
However Maas was joyful to see his quarterback come by with a clutch efficiency.
“It seems to be good on him as a result of the man pours his coronary heart and soul into all the things he does,” Maas stated. “He’s given all the things he’s needed to this staff.
“It’s good to see the offence there on the finish rating when it actually wanted to. He’s the chief of that.”
Oliveira’s stellar effort spoiled
The loss tarnished a stellar effort by Winnipeg working again Brady Oliveira. The CFL’s excellent Canadian ran for 119 yards and a TD, his third 100-yard dashing efficiency in as many video games this 12 months versus Montreal.
Dakota Prukop’s four-yard run at 9:32 of the fourth put Winnipeg forward 24-21. Fajardo had staked Montreal to a 21-17 lead — its first of the sport — with a 13-yard TD cross at 3:48 to Austin Mack, who had six catches for 103 yards.
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The 28-yard scoring drive was arrange by Philpot’s 30-yard punt return.
Collaros, the primary CFL quarterback to begin 4 straight Gray Cups, completed 19-of-23 passing for 236 yards with an interception.
Bighill, Schoen play for Winnipeg
Linebacker Adam Bighill (proper calf) and receiver Dalton Schoen (ankle) each performed for Winnipeg regardless of neither practising this week. Bighill was injured in final week’s West Division ultimate whereas Schoen, the membership’s high receiver, hadn’t performed since Oct. 6.
Each noticed motion however every was substituted all through the competition. Schoen had three catches for 36 yards whereas Bighill recorded a deal with.
Montreal, which entered the sport an eight-point underdog, earned its eighth Gray Cup in 19 appearances.
Winnipeg’s Sergio Castillo booted three converts and a area objective.
William Stanback and Spieker scored Montreal’s different touchdowns. David Cote added 4 converts.
Fajardo’s 23-yard TD strike to Spieker — with Bighill making an attempt to defend — pulled Montreal to inside 17-14 at 1:43 of the third. Winnipeg threatened, driving to the Als’ nine-yard line earlier than Kabion Ento intercepted Collaros within the endzone.
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A stout defensive stand earned Winnipeg its 17-7 half-time benefit. Center linebacker Shayne Gauthier — enjoying the place Bighill would usually be — stopped Montreal quarterback Caleb Evans on third-and-one with eight seconds remaining.
That would’ve been a turning level within the sport. As a substitute, it galvanized the Alouettes.
“It most likely gave them numerous momentum but it surely didn’t kill us,” Maas stated. “Simply exit and play one other half-hour as onerous as we are able to, depart all of it on the road and play for one another.”
Added linebacker Darnell Sankey, who joined the Alouettes in September: “We simply obtained collectively and stated, ‘We imagine. We’re not going to lose. We aren’t going to lose.’ That’s precisely what we got here out right here and did. We introduced it to them.”
Prukop’s one-yard run at 12:08 of the second staked Winnipeg to a 17-7 benefit. It was arrange by Mike Miller’s restoration of James Letcher Jr.’s punt-return fumble at Montreal’s 29-yard line.
Stanback’s 32-yard TD run at 14:55 of the primary minimize Winnipeg’s result in 10-7. The four-play, 77-yard march was a powerful reply to Oliveira’s five-yard TD run at 12 minutes that capped the Bombers’ eight-play, 66-yard possession that was aided by a questionable pointless roughness name on Montreal’s Mustafa Johnson.
Castillo opened the scoring with a 25-yard area objective at 6:28 as Winnipeg had possession for 11 minutes, 5 seconds within the quarter.