26 - 30 Final
  for this game

Alouettes hang on to defeat Lions in CFL opener

Jul 1, 2011 - 3:54 AM
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Anthony Calvillo threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, as the Montreal Alouettes held on for a 30-26 victory over British Columbia in the CFL's 2011 season-opener.

The two-time defending Grey Cup champions built a 27-10 lead by halftime, and had to withstand several late-game drives to preserve their lead.

Calvillo -- who underwent surgery in mid-December to remove his thyroid gland, where a lesion had developed -- completed 22-of-30 passes without an interception for the Alouettes (1-0).

Jamel Richardson caught nine of the tosses for 162 yards and two scores, while Brandon Whitaker ran for 115 yards on 17 carries in the victory. Whitaker's performance was a crucial one for Montreal, which lost star running back Avon Cobourne to free agency in the offseason.

Travis Lulay completed 26-of-44 passes for 366 yards and a score for the Lions (0-1), who suffered the setback after going for a field goal with under two minutes left, rather than try for a game-tying touchdown.

British Columbia had pulled within 30-23 after Paul McCallum kicked a 39-yard field goal two minutes into the fourth quarter. The Lions held defensively, but had to punt on their next two possessions.

They got a great scoring chance after taking over at the Montreal 43 with 2:12 to play. Lulay completed a pass for five yards before his second pass fell incomplete.

Faced with a 3rd-and-5 with 1:47 to go, British Columbia brought McCallum back out. He drilled the 46-yarder to make it a four-point game, but the Lions were unable to get the ball back. Montreal handed the ball to Whitaker, who ran for a first down on the first play of the Als' possession, and kept gaining yards as time ran out.

"In the fourth quarter, we had the time to catch up and take the lead, but we came up lame a little bit," Lulay said.

Montreal got out to a quick start, scoring on its first drive when Calvillo tossed a 51-yard touchdown pass to S.J. Green.

McCallum booted a 39-yarder with three minutes left to make it a 7-3 game after one quarter.

But the Alouettes piled on the points in the second thanks to their passing game. Montreal kicker Sean Whyte made a 20-yard field goal about a minute into the frame, and McCallum missed a kick on BC's next touch.

Tim Maypray returned that miss 56 yards to set the Alouettes up at their own 43, and they took advantage.

After reaching the Lions' 40, Calvillo pump-faked and found Richardson up the right sideline for a touchdown and a 17-3 advantage.

Montreal forced BC to punt and set up at its own seven, but overcame the poor field position. Whitaker ran for 11 yards to give the Als some breathing room, and Calvillo later found Green for 23 yards to get them into Lions territory.

Then, on 2nd-and-10 from the BC 46, Richardson ran a crossing route from left to right and caught the ball in stride. He bounced off Lions defender David Hyland, spun around and ran up-field. After breaking an ankle tackle, he crossed into the end zone and the Alouettes assumed a 24-3 lead.

"[Calvillo] put it right in there and I decided to finish it," Richardson said.

The Lions got a crucial score on their ensuing drive, when Lulay's 49-yard completion to Dobson Collins helped set up his two-yard TD completion to Akeem Foster with 1:20 on the clock.

However, Whyte nailed a 47-yarder in the quarter's closing seconds.

McCallum opened the third-quarter scoring with a 21-yard field goal on BC's first drive, and a big special teams play continued the Lions' comeback.

Montreal punted from midfield with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the quarter, and Tim Brown returned it 97 yards for a score. He started up the right side of the field and made a hard cut inside, then ran up the middle to complete the play, which pulled BC within 27-20.

The Als kept it a two-possession game with a 46-yarder from Whyte in the final minute of the quarter.

Game Notes

Thursday's game kicked off the CFL's 99th season...Geroy Simon led BC with 115 receiving yards on five catches...Lulay had 27 rushing yards to pace the Lions...Green finished with six catches for 88 yards.