MONTREAL — At the start of the fourth quarter, the Edmonton Elks were down 31-18. Chris Jones’ team was relying on quarterback Taylor Cornelius who had not had a start yet this season.
Kai Locksley made a two-yard rush to get the Elks (2-4) back in the game, but Edmonton missed their two-point conversion.
This didn't deflate the struggling Elks. Lockley added a second TD rush. Finally, Cornelius clinched a 32-31 comeback win over the Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium on Thursday.
"When we got (the first touchdown) we went for two to try to go ahead and punch it in. That didn't work very well for us," Elks coach Chris Jones said. "Then we scored again. I knew that if we kicked the first one and if we kicked the second one then we'd be up by a point and then and I was hoping we could burn more clock.
"We ended up getting the ball back, we scored and ran the ball down to zero and were able to get off the field."
Cornelius spent five weeks watching games from the sidelines, pushed down the depth chart by Nick Arbuckle and Tre Ford. With Arbuckle traded to the Ottawa Redblacks and Ford on the injury list for a few weeks, Cornelius had to step up and didn't miss his opportunity to throw the winning touchdown pass.
The 26-year-old found Kenny Lawler with a 10-yard touchdown pass and the Elks clinched the win.
"It was everything you want in a game you know to have the ball in your hands on a play like that," Cornelius said. "And Kenny doing his job, it takes everyone. It wasn't just me making that play. It was everyone making that possible and then him coming up with a heck of a grab there in the end zone."
The Elks took advantage of two large pass interference calls by Alouettes defensive back Wesley Sutton. In total, the Alouettes (1-4) accumulated 193 penalty yards during the game.
"That’s a tough one to take," said Montreal's head coach and GM Danny Maciocia. "We lead by 19, we pull out a track play to get the ball back and we have the opportunity to score again and we’re offside and there's a turnover on the same play. At that point we weren't able to get this game back.
"We need to know how to finish. When you lead by 19, you need to find a way to close the game."
Locksley rushed for two touchdowns. Cornelius threw for 225 yards, one interception and clinched the win with his lone touchdown pass.
Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris threw for 241 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Dominique Davis rushed for two touchdowns.
With both wins this season on the road, Jones and the Elks are aware that the next step is to win a game at Commonwealth Stadium.
"Hell, it's been a long time since we won a home game so as an organization it's extremely important," Jones said. "You've got to win home games and we've not played well. So it's not only been the fact that we lost the games, we've not played well at home."
Sherman Badie made a five-yard rush for Edmonton’s first touchdown, but Castillo missed his conversion, giving the Elks an early 6-0 lead.
David Cote kicked a 19-yard field goal cutting Montreal's deficit to three by the end of the first quarter.
The Alouettes scored three consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter.
Harris found Tyson Philpot with a 12-yard pass for his first CFL touchdown. He then threw a 33-yard pass to Eugene Lewis for his first TD of the season.
Marc-Antoine Dequoy made his second career interception and was stopped at the one-yard line. Dominique Davis made the one-yard QB sneak pushing Montreal's lead to 24-6.
Castillo converted back-to-back field goals late in the second quarter to bring the score to 24-12 at halftime.
Davis added a second one-yard sneak TD in the third quarter, bringing Montreal up 31-12.
Locksley got the Elks back in the game with a two-yard rush for a touchdown to open the fourth quarter but Edmonton failed on their two-point conversion.
Locksley rushed in his second touchdown of the game with 10:55 left on the clock to bring the score to 31-25 for Montreal.
Following a 50-yard pass interference call on Sutton, his second of the fourth quarter, the Elks got to the red zone. Cornelius found Kenny Lawler with a 10-yard touchdown pass to clinch the win.
The Alouettes announced during the game that the team had acquired the CFL rights to offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from the Calgary Stampeders. In return Calgary received two conditional draft picks, a second round pick and a first round pick swap in the event Duvernay-Tardif continued his career in Montreal.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2022.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press