TORONTO — Cole Spieker is sure to be a talking point among the Montreal Alouettes coaching staff as they prepare for the playoffs.
The Alouettes rookie receiver made quite the case to dress in next week's East semifinal after catching six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in Montreal's 38-33 win against the Toronto Argonauts in the regular-season finale on Saturday before 13,155 at BMO Field.
It was the first career start for the 26-year-old from Brainerd, Minn., who had spent most of the season on the Alouettes practice squad.
"Oh, it's going to be a topic of conversation come tomorrow when we get to the office," Alouettes general manager and interim head coach Danny Maciocia said. "You got to factor in the (Canadian-American) ratio, whether we can dress an extra American receiver."
Spieker snatched a 53-yard first-quarter touchdown and caught a critical first-down pass to keep a late-game drive alive.
The Argos (11-7) and Alouettes (9-9) already had locked up first and second place in the East Division.
Montreal and Toronto rested several starters. The Alouettes did not play starting quarterback Trevor Harris as well as receivers Eugene Lewis and Jake Wieneke. The Argos also sat No. 1 pivot McLeod Bethel-Thompson among others.
With the exception of a few downs on special teams in a previous outing against the Ottawa Redblacks, Spieker spent the season on the Alouettes practice squad getting acquainted with the Canadian game.
"We put in a lot of work in practice, so when the time came to get this opportunity, we're ready to finish it off," Spieker said.
Spieker, a devout fan of Minnesota Vikings pro bowl wideout Randy Moss as a kid, played Division III football at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
"Funny story, when I first met him, I thought he said he played lacrosse at Wisconsin," Maciocia recalled.
Maciocia noticed Spieker at a pro camp in Dallas in April. Since captaining Wisconsin-La Crosse in his final year in 2019, Spieker has attended various tryout camps in the United States and played a season of spring football.
"He may end up being in this league for a few years," Maciocia said.
Montreal backup quarterbacks Dominique Davis and Davis Alexander looked to be in good form. Davis completed 13 of 14 passes for 166 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and rushed for a score before being relieved by Alexander late in the first half.
Alexander also rushed for a touchdown while completing 8 of his 13 passes for 89 yards and throwing one interception.
"We wanted to go into post-season play on a winning note, feeling good about ourselves," Maciocia said.
After building leads of 14-0 and 21-7, the Alouettes took a 28-21 advantage into halftime.
Toronto pulled even when Jeremiah Haydel ran the opening second-half kickoff 87 yards down the sideline in front of the Argos' bench for a major.
However, Montreal's Jabari Ellis blocked and recovered John Haggerty's punt attempt for a touchdown just under four minutes later.
Argos kicker Boris Bede and his counterpart David Cote traded field goals of 19 and 41 yards, respectively, as the Alouettes took a 38-31 edge after three quarters.
Toronto forced an Alouettes safety 2:10 into the fourth quarter to pull within five points.
"We had too many penalties, and we were sloppy in the first half," Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said. "We fought back in the second half. But I expected us to play better than we did."
In place of Bethel-Thompson, Chad Kelly played an entire game for the first time since 2016, when the younger brother of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was a senior at Ole Miss.
Kelly completed 23 of 35 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also scored once on the ground.
Davis set an Alouettes franchise record for rushing touchdowns for a quarterback in a season, rumbling in for his 13th in the first quarter.
Vernon Adams Jr. set the previous mark of 12 in 2019.
The Alouettes meet the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East semifinal in Montreal on Nov. 6. The winner travels to Toronto to face the Argos in the East final on Nov. 13.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2022.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press