Alouettes 41 Argonauts 10
MONTREAL — Avon Cobourne put both his rushing and pass catching skills on display for the most productive game of his CFL career, but the Montreal Alouettes running back insisted he was just taking care of business.
The slippery Cobourne scored two touchdowns and had a career-high 231 total yards — 115 rushing and 116 yards in receptions — as the Alouettes brought the Toronto Argonauts back down to earth with a 41-10 victory on Thursday night.
The Alouettes (4-1) won a fourth straight game and an 11th in a row at home and stopped the Argonauts’ (3-2) winning streak at three.
It was Cobourne’s first 100-100 game since he had 107 on the ground and 103 through the air on Aug. 15, 2008 against Toronto.
“It just feels like another game,” said Cobourne. “The first time I did 100-100 it was big because I was always in the offence, but now it felt like working.”
Jamel Richardson, with two, and S.J. Green caught TD passes for Montreal, which has seven straight wins over Toronto since 2008. Damon Duval added two field goals.
Quarterback Cleo Lemon scored a TD and Grant Shaw added a field goal for the Argonauts, who led 10-7 at the 5:53 mark of the second quarter but then were overwhelmed by the defending Grey Cup champions.
The crowd of 25,012 saw the Alouettes control a game in which they held CFL rushing leader Cory Boyd to 53 yards on nine carries, contained dynamic kick returner Chad Owens and limited quarterback Cleo Lemon to eight completions for 143 yards.
Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo passed for 394 yards on 30 completions, including 118 yards on seven catches by Kerry Watkins.
“We didn’t establish anything,” said Toronto coach Jim Barker. “We couldn’t get anything going and our defence couldn’t get them off the field.
“I thought that drive where we answered and kept the ball most of the first quarter was how you have to play Montreal. You have to keep Anthony off the field and we didn’t do that.”
Cobourne looked like he would be the goat when, with the scored tied 7-7 in the second quarter, he fumbled and Jason Pottinger recovered at the Montreal 38, setting up the go-ahead field goal.
But Montreal answered with a touchdown set up by Cobourne, who took a short pass and weaved 47 yards through the defence to the Toronto three.
“I was so indecisive I think that caused the fumble,” said Cobourne. “For them to come back to me right away was right because I had to respond.
“But it wasn’t just me. The big guys opened up big holes and I had to explode through.”
He also felt he had to gain rushing yards because the Alouettes offence is quick to abandon the run when it’s not working.
Alouettes slotback Ben Cahoon got the two catches he needed to pass former Calgary great Allen Pitts’ total of 966 career receptions and move into third place all-time with 969. He ended up with four catches and now sits three behind second-place Darren Flutie. Terry Vaughn is the all-time leader with 1,006.
Cahoon, who also caught a pass in a 132nd straight game, third all-time, was less concerned with his spot in the record book than with seeing the Alouettes offence look dominant again.
“We took a long stride today toward becoming the team we want to become, so I feel good about that,” he said.
On Montreal’s first possession Calvillo competed passes on eight consecutive plays, capped by an 11-yard TD toss to Green.
But Lemon struck back with a long drive of his own and scored on a three-yard sprint around the right side at 14:31 of the first quarter.
A Cobourne turnover — Montreal’s first lost fumble of the season — and a 55-yard pass to Brandon Rideau gave Toronto the ball on the Montreal 18, setting up Grant’s 31-yard field goal to give the Argonauts a 10-7 lead 5:53 into the second quarter.
It didn’t last long, as a roughing the kicker call on Ejiro Kuale kept a Montreal drive going and backup quarterback Ricky Santos, only on the field for short-yardage situations, completed his first career TD toss when he hit Richardson from the one.
“It seemed to take the wind out of our sails and that hasn’t happened this year,” said Barker. “We have to learn from that. Guys are going to make mistakes and you have to be able to bounce back.”
Montreal threatened again in the final minute, and the crowd booed as officials ruled that Green, who looked to have scored, was down on the goalline after a six yard pass. Duval then booted a 19-yard field goal.
A 51-yard completion to Watkins set up Cobourne’s score on a one-yard run 9:05 into the third quarter.
Lemon was shaken up after a 17-yard carry and Dalton Bell came in. His pass was caught and fumbled by Owens and the ball became a hot potato until defensive tackle Eric Wilson picked it up and ran to the Toronto five. Calvillo then hit Richardson in the end zone.
Duval added a field goal and Cobourne scored his second TD of the game from three yards out with 2:40 left to play.
On a strange play in the first quarter, a measurement showed Montreal had stopped Toronto short on a third-and-inches play, but they then remeasured and gave Toronto the first down. Montreal’s challenge of the spot was unsuccessful.
Argos offensive lineman Rob Murphy, who had been fined by both the league and his team earlier in the day for making questionable remarks about Quebec on Twitter, was at his post at left tackle.
He had apologized on Twitter on Wednesday and feels the matter is closed.
“I said I’m sorry if I offended anyone and we’re going to leave it at that — and that’s all I’m going to say about it,” said Murphy, who will continue to send Twitter messages. “I’ve learned a lesson and all I can do is go from there.”