Calvillo wins pivotal battle

Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo makes a pass against the Stampeders during Canada Day action...

Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo makes a pass against the Stampeders during Canada Day action at McMahon Stadium. (Sun Media/Stuart Dryden)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

The Grey Cup rematch featured so many things the championship matchup didn't have seven months ago.

There was a kickoff return touchdown.

There was a 20-point comeback.

There were two blocked punts.

There was a 81-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

And there was drama in the final minutes.

In a complete change from the Calgary Stampeders' 22-14 win in November, the Montreal Alouettes won the 2009 season-opener last night 40-27 in front of 35,650 fans at McMahon Stadium.

The CFL's reigning most outstanding player, Anthony Calvillo, got off to a great start in 2009. Calvillo completed his first 14 passes and finishing 24-of-32 passing for 255 yards with one TD and one interception.

He was much better than the player he beat out for that award.

Henry Burris wasn't sharp and didn't get much going in the passing game until the fourth quarter. The Stamps pivot had just 89 yards in the first half and finished 17-of-33 for 247 yards with a TD and interception of his own.

With the Stamps down six in the final minutes, Burris tossed an pick to Mark Estelle in the endzone. On the next possession, Burris was stripped of the ball and Chip Cox ran it back for the icing touchdown.

"We had a lot of Game 1 mistakes," Burris said.

"If there is any time to get a nice slap in the face, it's right now.

"I'm not sure if anybody was basking in what happened last year, but that's in the past. If this isn't a wakeup call, I don't know what is. I know this team and we'll be fine. This is a long journey

"We didn't go undefeated last year but you always want one of these early on to correct them."

Despite not playing well, there were a couple of bright spots for the homeside.

Rookie receiver Titus Ryan took a second-quarter kickoff and found a seam, hitting the sidelines where he turned on the jets to outrun defenders for a 104-yard major.

It came directly after Damon Duval kicked the second of his six field goals as the Alouettes took a 20-0 lead.

Shortly after that, veteran Canadian Wes Lysack broke through the line and stuck his arm on a Duval punt attempt, the first of two blocks by the Stamps. The other was by rookie Tristan Black.

The Stampeders' defence created two turnovers in the third quarter that the defending champs turned into 10 points to even the score after 45 minutes.

Sophomore safety Milton Collins jumped to pick off a tipped pass off the hands of Brandon Browner in the third quarter, which the Stamps converted into a field goal.

That came after rookie middle linebacker Tray Blackmon forced a fumble of Jamel Richardson to set up a Burris touchdown scamper to cut the Als lead to 27-24.

But the Stamps had four turnovers of their own in a sloppy performance.

"We had the opportunity to win the game, a couple of opportunities to win, and we gave it up," said defensive end Mike Labinjo. "You can't start the game down 20 points to anybody, let alone Montreal.

"We did a good job of coming back, but when it's crunch time and you need to make the plays, we didn't do it, and that's what we've got to work on."

The Als came out flying, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives in the time the Stamps ran just four offensive plays. In less than seven minutes, the Als equalled their point total in the championship game last year.

By the time TSN was able to put the Stamps starting offence on screen, the Als were up 14-0. They pushed it to 20-0 before the champs responded.


Videos

Photos