Montreal Alouettes' fourth-string quarterback Davis Alexander was tasked with the final drive to pull off a comeback pre-season victory on Friday.
The 23-year-old drove his team down the field with 71 seconds remaining to a 27-26 come-from-behind win over the Ottawa Redblacks to wrap up their CFL pre-season.
Alexander threw a 53-yard pass to Fabian Guerra, getting the Als in the red zone. Rhythm-Jean Giraud eventually rushed for two yards in the end zone to score the game-winning touchdown.
“That kid just keeps pulling it out. He's a cool customer,” said head coach Khari Jones about Alexander. “He's fun to watch and he's in there in those big moments and he made some big plays so it was pretty cool for a young guy like that to be able to do that.”
The Alouettes escaped with the win at Percival Molson Stadium. However, the underlying tone remained that Jones used all four of his quarterbacks yet none of them threw a touchdown pass.
For now, Jones is not worried about it ahead of their regular-season opener on June 9 in Calgary.
“We didn't use half or a quarter of what we normally would use out there as football plays,” Jones said. “I kept pulling the same plays over and over again. I just wanted to see how they played and it's not a big issue. We threw a lot of touchdowns last year, I think and we will continue to figure out how to make touchdowns.”
Vernon Adams Jr. made a return to the gridiron after suffering a shoulder injury on Oct. 11, 2021. Adams threw for 69 yards, scored one touchdown and was replaced in the second quarter.
Trevor Harris threw for 61 yards, one interception and exited the game in the third quarter. Dominique Davis threw for 39 yards and left in the fourth quarter. Alexander ended the game with the winning drive, throwing for 137 yards.
“No pressure at all. But the competition? Yeah, it’s there,” Adams said. “We’ve got two other guys who started in this league and won a lot of games as well. So, it's fun, it's good competition. I'm going to come to work everyday and just do the best I can do and lead this team the best I can.”
Jones did not want to confirm who his starting quarterback would be going forward. Instead, he said: “I pretty much know who it is but I will not say who it is.”
Quarterback Tyrie Adams rushed 36 yards for Ottawa’s only touchdown, threw for 67 yards, one interception and exited in the fourth quarter.
Caleb Evans had the start at quarterback for the Redblacks. Evans threw for 65 yards and an interception in two quarters. David Moore finished the game, throwing for 64 yards.
“We didn’t capitalize in certain scenarios,” said Redblacks head coach Paul LaPolice. “We turned the ball over twice in field-goal range, there’s six points right there, and we also couldn’t capitalize on all those take-aways.
"We moved the ball very well tonight but we got stalled and we could not score from first-and-goal from the five [yard line].”
Redblacks global kicker Jose Maltos kept his team in the game with six field goals.
Adams scored on his first drive. The quarterback, who switched his number from eight to three this season, made a one-yard rush for the first touchdown of the game.
Kicker David Cote connected on a 45-yard field goal to give Montreal a 10-0 lead.
The Redblacks intercepted Adams three times but Montreal’s defence stood tall, limiting Ottawa to four consecutive field goals.
Trevor Harris entered the game in the second quarter and was immediately intercepted by Hakeem Bailey.
Maltos got Ottawa on the scoreboard. The native of Mexico kicked four consecutive field goals to bring the score to 12-10 for Ottawa in the second quarter.
Alouettes kicker Matt Mengel ended the half with a field goal giving Montreal a 13-12 lead at the break.
Montreal’s first overall pick Tyrell Richards entered the game at middle linebacker in the third quarter and served a crushing sack to Ottawa quarterback Tyrie Adams. Richards mainly played special teams during the game but made his presence felt heading into the regular season.
“I got to watch a lot of film and see everything that he did there, but just from an eye’s view he's the real deal,” Jones said. “We thought that he was coming out and that's why you pick a guy first.”
Davis suffered a two-and-out following the play and Mengel completed a 42-yard field goal making the 16-12.
Maltos added his fifth field goal of the night, a 13-yard attempt, cutting Montreal’s lead to one point.
Ottawa conceded a single following a punt, giving the Alouettes a 17-15 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Redblacks scored their first touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter when Adams rushed 36 yards to the end zone to put Ottawa up 22-17. Maltos added a sixth field goal bumping Ottawa’s lead to 26-17.
Dante Brown’s field goal got the Alouettes to within six points. Montreal completed the comeback with a late drive, culminating with a two-yard rush by Giraud.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2022
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press