Calgary comes calling on Montreal

Jul 1, 2015 - 2:32 PM Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - The defending Grey Cup Champions are off to a solid start as the Calgary Stampeders aim for their second win in as many tries when they visit the Montreal Alouettes at Percival-Molson Stadium.

It wasn't the prettiest effort by any means, but in the end the Stampeders managed to slip by visiting Hamilton in the season opener by a score of 24-23, thanks to kicker Rene Paredes, who booted a 50-yard field goal at the end of regulation.

Bo Levi Mitchell, the breakout star for the Stampeders last season who just signed a contract extension, got off to a shaky start when one of his three interceptions was returned 76 yards for a major by Johnny Sears Jr. for the first points of the contest. Luckily for Levi and the Stamps, Keon Raymond returned the favor in the third quarter when he picked off a Zach Collaros pass and brought it back almost the length of the field for a major to strike a balance.

Mitchell finished the contest 22-of-35 for 264 yards and a score to Eric Rogers in the first frame. However, Mitchell was also sacked four times. Luckily, the signal-caller had Jeff Fuller at his disposal as the wide receiver out of Texas A&M caught nine balls for 148 yards, earning him honors as one of the league's top performers in the first week.

Fuller's performance was a huge step in the right direction considering he had only 29 catches all of last season and a total of 44 in both 2013 and 2014.

Punishing running back Jon Cornish, who led the league in rushing with 1,082 yards and scored five majors on the ground in 2014 even though he missed action with injury, had something to prove against Hamilton after the Tiger- Cats limited him to just 25 yards in the championship. Cornish set the tone with his 70 yards on 13 carries, almost twice the number of yards as the entire Hamilton contingent, which generated only 37 yards on 13 attempts.

As for the Alouettes, their season has already been thrown for a loop. They not only lost to second-year program Ottawa at home, 20-16, they lost the services of both Jonathan Crompton and Dan LeFevour due to injury. Crompton, who was the primary passer for the Als last season when they struggled to find a leader on offense, completed just five of his 17 attempts for 51 yards, although one of those was a four-yard score to Jean-Christophe Beaulieu in the second quarter.

In the case of LeFevour, he missed on his only pass attempt for the contest before going down with a shoulder injury that will require surgery and could keep him out for the remainder of the campaign.

Crompton also suffered a shoulder injury and while he was listed as day-to-day on Monday with more assessment to take place, he has subsequently joined LeFevour on the six-game injury list as of Wednesday morning. While the active roster will surely change prior to game time on Friday, only Brandon Bridge was listed at quarterback.

Bridge saw action in the opener as he connected on half of his 10 pass attempts for 62 yards, but he was intercepted once and suffered a sack as the South Alabama product made his CFL debut.

In addition to Crompton and LeFevour being on the six-game injured list for Montreal, a team which has had trouble finding a replacement for superstar quarterback Anthony Calvillo, Tanner Marsh is also on that list, while Rakeem Cato was on the one-game injured list. Other quarterbacks calling Montreal home these days are Andrew Manley and Kyle Quinlan, although they were on the practice roster and suspended list, respectively, as of Wednesday morning.

Luckily for the Alouettes, the defense put up a fight in the opener as three players came away with interceptions, but Montreal cannot afford to have the unit out on the field for almost 37 minutes again this week if it hopes to be competitive.

The teams will have about a month before they get together for the second and final time this regular season, meeting up in Week 6 in Calgary.

In 2014 these squads kicked off the campaign against each other, with the Stamps cruising to a 29-8 victory at home. However, later in the season Montreal returned the favor with a surprising 31-15 win at home, thanks to Crompton, who threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns, while Calgary played without Mitchell and had a six-game win streak come to an end.

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