Argonauts shock Alouettes

Chad Owens and the Toronto Argonauts showed they’re for real. Owens caught two TD passes while Ryan Christian returned a kickoff a club-record 110 yards for another as the surprising Argos stunned the Montreal Alouettes 37-22 Saturday at Rogers Centre.

Toronto Argonaut Cory Boyd

Toronto Argonaut Cory Boyd

Argonauts 37 Alouettes 22

TORONTO — Chad Owens and the Toronto Argonauts showed they’re for real.

Owens caught two TD passes while Ryan Christian returned a kickoff a club-record 110 yards for another as the surprising Argos stunned the Montreal Alouettes 37-22 Saturday at Rogers Centre.

And after dropping a 41-10 decision to the Als in Montreal on July 29, Owens said the upstart Argos (5-2) — who had just three wins last year — came through with a statement game against the defending Grey Cup champions.

“Definitely,” said Owens. “It was a big day for us, we needed it especially the way we performed in Montreal.

“I tried to be that fire, I tried to be the energy to keep everybody up. Offence, defence and special teams, we put it together.”

Christian, a first-year player from Texas Christian, electrified the season-high Rogers Centre gathering of 22,311 at 2:08 of the second quarter, a play after Montreal had pulled to within 14-7. Christian broke the Argos’ return record of 109 yards set by Terry Greer in 1981 and capped the play by somersaulting into the end zone.

But it was the five-foot-eight, 180-pound Owens, acquired from Montreal before the season, who cemented the victory. He hauled in a 40-yard TD toss from Cleo Lemon at 8:00 of the fourth to put Toronto ahead 38-22 when Montreal seemed to be gaining some momentum.

“There was no trepidation or thinking Chad would haunt us,” Montreal coach Marc Trestman said. “Chad is a good player and we hold him in high regard. We knew when we lost him we lost a good player.”

Owens finished with six catches for 163 yards and the two TDs, the Argos first 100-yard receiver of the season. The only blemish on the Hawaii native’s performance was being flagged for excessive celebration following his second touchdown grab.

“I got penalized, I hurt the team for it but you’re in the moment,” he said. “It was a canoe and I was rowing it trying to get back to Hawaii.

“But we got stopped short. We hit some current, some big waves. But it was a fun night and we came away with the win. You can’t ask for anything more.”

Argos head coach Jim Barker was shocked to see Owens’s celebration and added fans won’t see it happen again. But Barker wasn’t the least bit surprised his team responded in its rematch with Montreal

“He’s just a football player, which is why that little celebration surprised me because that’s not us,” he said of Owens. “But all week long I had a feeling our guys were going to play at a very high level.”

Toronto emerged victorious despite losing offensive lineman Cedric Gagne-Marcoux (calif), receiver Jeremaine Copeland (elbow) and cornerback Willie Middlebrooks (unspecified). Copeland, who was injured after fumbling on a 50-yard catch during the Argos’ first drive, was given the game ball as his teammates felt the reception set the tone.

“This is a special, special team and it was just exciting to be able to watch them get this win against such a good team,” Barker said. “But if they come back Friday night against Hamilton and don’t answer the call, it’s a hollow win.”

Barker was hired in the off-season to rebuild an Argos team that had missed the playoffs the last two years while winning a combined seven games.