Als pound T.O.

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

It turned out it wasn't whether Damon Allen was going to start last night for the Argos against the Montreal Alouettes.

It was more like whether he was going to play.

And he did, entering the game in the second half. But even the Amazing Allen, playing with a wonky ankle, couldn't overcome a 14-0 first-half deficit and the Argos lost 18-10 in front of an announced crowd of 31,621 at the Rogers Centre.

The Argos dropped to 4-3, tying them with the Als for second place in the East. The resurgent Ottawa Renegades are in first place -- yes, you read that right -- with a 5-3 record.

Allen had practised sparingly leading up to the game because of the ankle injury he suffered in the third quarter of the team's last outing and head coach Pinball Clemons said it would be a game-time decision whether Allen would start.

Clemons opted for backup Michael Bishop, but the fourth-year pivot struggled early in the team's first two series, throwing an interception on the second. The Argos didn't generate a first down until five minutes into the second quarter, by which time Montreal led 13-0 after chewing up the clock with long drives and Bishop was the victim of some dropped balls by teammates and some erratic officiating.

After the Argos exited the field at halftime with the crowd booing, Clemons and offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin decided to pull Bishop for Allen.

"When you don't score any points in one half and a new quarterback comes in, sometimes regardless of who he is he has the potential to change the rhythm and Damon's a little extra special," Clemons said.

After fumbling on a hit from his blindside during his initial series -- the Als only could score one point off the turnover -- Allen helped author 10 points on the next two series. It began with a 50-yard field goal by Noel Prefontaine, followed by a 27-yard touchdown pass to slotback Arland Bruce.

The Argos pecked away, but ultimately came up short. The Argos had the ball with 43 seconds to go in the game starting from their own 43, but only could advance to the Als' 24-yard line. Allen said he was mentally affected by a combination of penalties to both sides on the final drive and some pesky gnats which affected his vision.

"When things aren't going well offensively, the backup quarterback's one of the most popular (options)," said Allen, who was 21-for-30, including one touchdown and one interception, for 246 yards

Bishop, who was 6-for-11 for 41 yards, accepted the decision by the coaching staff.

"I was hoping to stay in and find a rhythm but that wasn't the case," he said.

Safety Orlondo Steinauer said the slow start by the defence factored in the loss.

"Generally the rules says two out of the three phases have to get going and we were stagnant in the first half."


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