HAMILTON — From uncertainty in regards to the franchise’s existence earlier this 12 months to a red-and-blue confetti celebration in Hamilton on Sunday, the Montreal Alouettes have charted one of the vital distinctive paths to a Gray Cup championship in CFL historical past.
The Alouettes surprised the Winnipeg Blue Bombers within the a hundred and tenth Gray Cup, profitable 28-24 in a defensive battle that gave technique to some late-stage offensive dramatics from quarterback Cody Fajardo. The win marks the Alouettes’ first Gray Cup win since 2010 and is available in a season the place the franchise underwent an possession change within the low season.
Fajardo made 21-26 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns, together with a gutsy desperation drive that gave the crew a late fourth-quarter lead on a landing cross to Tyson Philpot. Austin Mack made six catches for 103 yards and a landing for the Als, whereas cornerback Kabion Ento had an interception, a compelled fumble and two knockdowns to steer the Alouettes’ ferocious defence.
Zach Collaros made 18-23 passes for 223 yards in a shedding effort, whereas working again Brady Oliveira rushed for 119 yards and a landing. The loss marks the Blue Bombers’ second consecutive Gray Cup disappointment, after the crew had captured the league title in 2019 and 2021.
Inexperienced Day thrilled a sold-out crowd of 28,808 followers at Tim Hortons Area within the Twisted Tea Gray Cup Halftime Present.
a hundred and tenth GREY CUP
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Much like their begin within the Western Remaining final week, the Bombers seemed to Oliveira early and sometimes of their first offensive drive of the sport. Oliveira touched the ball 4 instances in Bombers’ nine-play drive, however they have been unable to get to the top zone. Sergio Castillo‘s 25-yard discipline purpose opened the scoring at 6:28, with the Bombers taking a 3-0 lead.
After a two-and-out from the Als’ offence that noticed Evan Holm nearly snag an interception on Fajardo, Collaros and the Bombers went again to work. Collaros engineered an eight-play, 66-yard drive that Oliveira completed off from 5 yards out for his first landing of the sport. Castillo’s convert made it a quick-feeling 10-0 Bombers lead at 12:16.
After a dull offensive exhibiting to begin, the Als discovered their sport to shut out the primary quarter. First, Fajardo match a 31-yard bullet of a cross into a good window for Mack to get to the Bombers’ 32-yard line. Working again William Stanback then confirmed some burst to interrupt free on the handoff and powered his technique to the top zone at 14:55. David Cote’s convert went via with the clock at zeroes. On the heels of a 77-yard, four-play drive, the Als had pushed their means into the sport, trailing 10-7 at the beginning of the second quarter.
The Als started to grab momentum within the second quarter, as they elevated the stress on Collaros. The defence received its first turnover of the night time when defensive again Kabion Ento stripped Oliveira on a run, with Ciante Evans recovering the ball. Whereas the Als weren’t in a position to manufacture factors on the drive, the sport appeared to swing of their path as they seemed to chop into the Bombers’ lead.
The Bombers’ particular groups unit did its half to take the momentum again. Brandon Alexander compelled a fumble on returner James Letcher Jr. deep in Montreal territory, with Mike Benson recovering the ball on the 29-yard line. 5 performs later, Dakota Prukop was plunging into the top zone from a yard out to offer his crew some respiratory room. Castillo’s convert went via at 12:08 to offer the Bombers a 10-point lead at 17-7.
The Als responded with a drive that noticed them get all the way in which to the Bombers’ one-yard line. After receiver Tyler Snead had the top zone in sights however fell earlier than he may get there, Als’ head coach Jason Maas opted to finish the drive by going for it on third-down. The Bombers’ defence got here up huge and received the turnover on the one-yard line, preserving the 10-point lead to enter the half.
The Als opened the second half by making up for his or her missed landing alternative. Fajardo wanted simply three performs to cowl 60 yards for the rating, which was aided by a spectacular one-handed catch by Mack that received the Als to the Bombers’ 23-yard line. Fajardo discovered Cole Spieker for the remaining 23 yards on the subsequent play, surprising the group at Tim Hortons Area. Cote’s convert had the Als trailing 17-14, simply two minutes into play.
With the Bombers seeking to strike again, Ento made one other huge play. The primary-year cornerback received between Collaros’ end-zone-bound ball and receiver Kenny Lawler, pulling in an unbelievable interception to offer the Als the ball again. For the second time within the sport, although, the Als have been unable to capitalize on the turnover, forcing Joseph Zima to punt the ball away.
The Bombers took a flip at making a turnover — Evan Holm picked off Fajardo — and never turning it into factors, earlier than the Als took their first lead of the night time. After a 30-yard Philpot punt return, Fajardo led a powerful three-play, 26 yard drive that he capped with a 13-yard toss to Mack, giving the crew its third offensive landing of the sport. Cote’s convert sailed via at 4:02, placing the Als in entrance 21-17.
With their Gray Cup hopes threatened, the Bombers put collectively an ideal response. Collaros led a nine-play, 54-yard drive that Prukop completed off from the four-yard line at 9:29. Castillo’s convert gave the Bombers at 24-21 lead at 9:45.
The Als received the ball again at their very own 21-yard line with underneath two minutes to play. Evans stored the drive alive at midfield on second-and-two, however Fajardo was sacked by linebacker Shayne Gauthier. The Als put their season on the road in a third-and-five and Fajardo got here via with an enormous 31-yard toss to Spieker, transferring the ball to Winnipeg’s 21-yard line. Fajardo wasn’t achieved slinging. His subsequent play was a 19-yard dart to Philpot for the go-ahead landing, with 13 seconds to play. Cote’s convert made it a 28-24 sport.
The Bombers tried a late punt to get to the top zone, however the Als recovered and pandemonium broke out on the sphere, because the Als captured their first Gray Cup in 13 years, capping what began as a tumultuous season with a elegant, excellent ending. The Als gained their closing eight video games of the 2023 season.