Toronto battles Montreal in East Division Championship
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - The Montreal Alouettes attempt to punch their ticket to yet another title game this weekend, as they clash with familiar foe Toronto in the East Division Championship game at Olympic Stadium.
The winner of this bout will face either Calgary or British Columbia in the 100th Grey Cup next Sunday in Toronto.
With Anthony Calvillo at the helm for the Alouettes, the team has been a regular visitor to the Grey Cup over the years, last appearing in the title game in 2010 when they defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders by a score of 21-18 in Edmonton. That was the second of back-to-back championships for Montreal, and the eighth time since 2000 that the club had taken part in the big game.
As for the Argos, while they may have a storied history in the league, in recent years the opportunities to hoist the trophy have been few and far between. In fact, because Montreal is in the same division it has been the Als, for the most part, that have prevented Toronto from claiming the ultimate prize.
The Argonauts last played in the Grey Cup in 2004 when they defeated the British Columbia Lions by a score of 27-19, and prior to that the team hadn't been in the championship since 1997 when it won the second of consecutive titles against Saskatchewan and Edmonton, respectively.
Toronto arrives in the East Division Championship after defeating Edmonton rather convincingly last week, 42-26. For starting quarterback Ricky Ray, it was vindication for a signal-caller who had lost twice in the regular-season against his former team.
Ray hit on 23-of-30 passes for 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one each to Maurice Mann and Chad Kackert in the second quarter when the team lit up the scoreboard with 31 straight points, setting a record for the most consecutive points scored in a single quarter in a postseason affair. Kackert accounted for a game-high 88 yards rushing and another score on the ground, while special teams superstar Chad Owens landed in the end zone on a 59-yard punt return, furthering his legendary season in 2012 in which he's been one of the top players in the entire league.
Incorporated into the Toronto offense much more this season, Owens managed to catch 94 passes for 1,328 yards and score six touchdowns. Add to that another 1,588 yards on kickoff returns and 828 yards on punt returns and it was clear that Owens made himself into one of the most dangerous performers in league history, to the point where he broke the single-season record for combined yards and is now the only one with three straight seasons with at least 3,000 yards.
An interesting side note is that Owens broke into the league with Montreal back in 2009 after coming out of Hawaii, and he was rarely used by the Als, so each time he goes out against his old mates he has a chip on his shoulder.
While the Argos put much of their faith in Owens and Ray, everyone knows that the player with the highest profile in this outing will be Calvillo for the Alouettes.
The ageless wonder out of Utah State logged his second straight 5,000-yard passing campaign and the seventh of his illustrious career. He's been the face of the league for quite some time as he continues to build on a career that is closing in on an amazing 80,000 passing yards, which is more than any other quarterback in any league, any where.
Of their three meetings this season, Montreal claimed victory twice and lost the earlier outing by just three points, although it is important to note that Ray missed the majority of the second game and all of the third due to injury
The most recent matchup was last month when the Als delivered a 24-12 victory on the road, as Calvillo threw for 255 yards and a score and Shea Emry intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 46 yards for a major. Toronto scored only one TD in the meeting on a 24-yard pass play between Jarious Jackson to Andre Durie.
As far as the all-time series between these two squads in the division finals goes, they've met a total of 10 times with Montreal taking six victories, including three of the last four. The most recent triumph for the Als came in 2010, while Toronto last tasted victory in this setting six years earlier.
During that last victory for the Argos in 2004, Calvillo ended up getting injured in the first quarter, which left the team holding onto hope with backup Ted White at the helm, en route to a 26-18 final. That's been the only loss in six postseason meetings with Calvillo as the starting quarterback for Montreal.
11/14 12:02:15 ET