MONTREAL — The Canadian Football League will have its dream Grey Cup.
The Toronto Argonauts guaranteed the presence of the home team with a 27-20 upset victory against the Alouettes Sunday afternoon in the East Division final before 50,112 Olympic Stadium spectators.
The Argos, who finished second in the division with a 9-9 record, advance to the championship game, next Sunday, on their home field at the Rogers Centre. They’ll meet the winner of the West Division final, later Sunday afternoon, between British Columbia and Calgary.
The Als finished first in the division with an 11-7 record, then enjoyed a bye in the playoffs’ opening round. But it mattered not, just as it didn’t matter that Montreal won two of three regular-season games this season against the Argos.
The Als have now lost two consecutive playoff games at Olympic Stadium.
Montreal almost tied the game in the final minute, marching to the Toronto 23 following a 45-yard pass to Jamel Richardson. But the Als failed to generate a first down. A third-down gamble ended with Anthony Calvillo’s pass deflecting off Brian Bratton’s chest in the end zone.
The game started auspiciously for the home team, Kackert fumbling on Toronto’s second offensive play. The ball was recovered by defensive-tackle Ollie Ogbu at the Montreal 46.
The Als got the ball down to the Argos’ 9-yard line but, after Anthony Calvillo was sacked, they had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Sean Whyte at 5:15.
The Argos then turned the ball over on downs on their second possession, backup quarterback Jarious Jackson stopped on a third-down gamble by Marc-Olivier Brouillette.
Montreal then went 60 yards in six plays, culminating in Chris Jennings’s 18-yard touchdown run up the middle at 11:03, good for a 10-0 lead.
Swayze Waters kicked a 22-yard field goal for the Argos at 14:24.
The visitors then began chipping away at the lead.
Noel Prefontaine kicked a 64-yard single at 2:47 of the second quarter.
An illegal substitution penalty against the Als’ Dwight Anderson kept a Toronto drive alive, and the Argos marched deep in Montreal territory. But on a third-down gamble from the Als’ one-yard line, Kackert was stuffed, Ogbu credited for making the touchdown-saving tackle.
Montreal couldn’t generate a first down, forcing Whyte to concede a safety at 11:50, making the score 10-6. And then Prefontaine booted a 46-yard punt single at 13:20.
The Als’ offence finally got untracked, thanks to a 49-yard pass to S.J. Green. That was part of a three-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Adrian McPherson at 13:56, restoring Montreal’s 10-point lead, 17-7.
Waters kicked a 12-yard field goal just before haltime.
The Argos assumed control of the game with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter.
A four-play, 101-yard drive, that started deep in Toronto territory, ended in a two-yard pass from Ricky Ray to Dontrelle Inman at 4:11. Ray connected with Chad Owens for gaines of 69 and 27 yards on the series.
The Argos then took their first lead on a four-play, 76-yard drive, capped by Kackert’s 49-yard run at 8:58. Kackert went up the middle before cutting to the right to score.
The Als used a faked punt – a direct-snap to Chip Cox when the team required 13 yards for a first down – to prolong a drive, yet had to settle for an 11-yard Whyte field goal when they couldn’t score from the Toronto 4-yard line. Calvillo attempted a pass into the end zone to Green on second down but the play was broken up by Evan McCollough.
Whyte’s kick reduced the Argos’ lead to 24-20.
Waters increased the advantage to 27-20 with a 35-yard field goal at 4:55 of the fourth quarter, following a 44-yard run by Kackert.
The Als might have been marching towards the tying score, but Eric Deslauriers was stripped of the ball by Pacino Horne at the Toronto 18 with fewer than five minutes remaining. Montreal challenged the play, but the call was upheld.
After an Andre Durie fumble was recovered by Michael Carter, the Als had one more shot. But a Calvillo pass was overthrown and intercepted by Marcus Ball.
Brouillette had to be assisted from the field on a stretcher at the beginning of the fourth quarter, after he was pushed into a pile on an Argos’ kickoff return. It appeared the Montreal player suffered a neck injury.