Lions visit Alouettes in Eastern Division Semifinal

Nov 12, 2014 - 4:02 PM Montreal, QC ( - The 2014 Grey Cup Playoffs for kick off on Sunday afternoon at Percival Molson Stadium, as the Montreal Alouettes host cross-over British Columbia in the Eastern Division Semifinal.

Both teams finished at .500 during the regular season but because this was such a down year for the East Division it allowed four teams from the West Division to take part in the postseason. The Alouettes, who lost a tiebreaker against Hamilton for the division title, had won six straight and eight of nine before dropping the regular-season finale to the Tiger-Cats, 29-15, on Oct. 8.

Meanwhile, the Lions finished fourth in a heavily-competitive West Division, ahead of only Winnipeg which was left out of the postseason. Wins were hard to come by for BC over the final month and a half as the squad went just 2-5 and bowed in two straight to end the regular season. The most recent setback for the Lions was a 33-16 final versus Calgary at home on Nov. 7

In that contest, BC surrendered three touchdowns in the second quarter and never recovered as the Lions tallied a mere three points in the second half.

Kevin Glenn handled the quarterback duties for British Columbia, hitting 26- of-36 for 312 yards and a score, but he was also picked off twice and sacked four times by the Calgary defense. Emmanuel Arceneaux scored the lone major for the Lions on a 46-yard reception in the second quarter.

The most recent contest for the Als saw the group take a tumble against Hamilton on the road. Montreal didn't get a sniff of the end zone until there was just seconds remaining in regulation and by then the 17-yard TD pass from Jonathan Crompton to Duron Carter made little difference.

The signal caller connected on 18-of-35 passes for 284 yards and the one score, while S.J. Green turned four catches into a game-high 103 yards. Unfortunately, the rushing attack for the Als was nowhere to be found as the unit generated a mere 17 yards on 12 attempts in such a crucial contest. Then again, the effort should not have been too much of a surprise given that Montreal was tied for last in the league in average yards per rush (4.8).

With the running game essentially stagnant, the Als will have to find ways for Crompton to attack BC in a more successful manner. Unfortunately, the Montreal passing attack ended up next-to-last in the league after 18 games with just 3,784 yards, although much of that can be attributed to the face that Montreal fought for more than half the season to find a quarterback it could survive with.

Sporting the lowest completion percentage (.539) in the CFL, the Als were third from the bottom in passing TDs with just 16, and when you add that to 14 interceptions it is easy to see why Montreal owned the weakest efficiency rating (74.4) in the CFL during the regular season as well.

If Crompton and the rest of the Als are not careful, they could end up on a substantial hit list that BC linebacker Solomon Elimimian has developed this year. He not only led the league in tackles, he shattered the single-season record with 143 stops and his margin of 54 tackles over his closest competitor made the accomplishment all the more historic.

Luckily for the Lions, a passing attack is not something that they've had to consistently worry about, given that Glenn finished second in passing yards with 3,918. However, Glenn and company surely could have had better efficiency numbers if not for the fact that the signal caller had just as many INTs (17) as TDs.

With respect to postseason success, of the current teams in the CFL, except for expansion Ottawa, the Lions have made the fewest appearances in the Grey Cup and have won just six of those 10 trips to the title game. However, BC has taken home the trophy more recently than the Alouettes, thanks to a 34-23 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at home back in 2011.

Montreal's success in the postseason is slightly more celebrated thanks to seven championships in 18 appearances. The Als are the last club to win the title in back-to-back years as well, taking out Saskatchewan by just a single point (28-27) in 2009, and then finishing off the Roughriders again a year later, this time by three points (21-18).

Last season, neither of these clubs made it beyond this round of the playoffs as Montreal suffered a 19-16 loss to Hamilton, and the Lions went down versus Saskatchewan, 29-25, as both were road teams in the outings.

These two met twice during the first four weeks of the season, splitting those outings as Montreal claimed a 24-9 victory at home in Week 2, and the Lions crushing the Als two weeks later at BC Place by a score of 41-5.

The winner of this meeting will take on Hamilton in the division final next weekend, for the opportunity to take part in the 102nd Grey Cup in Vancouver on Nov. 30.

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