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article imageCFL: Alouettes offense sputters without Calvillo Special

By Joseph DeClara     Sep 4, 2010 in Sports
Montreal - If proof was needed that the Montréal Alouettes need Anthony Calvillo to be healthy, last night was it as they lost at home last night to the BC Lions.
That’s not to say that the team wouldn’t eventually learn to live without their star quarterback, but they could certainly have used him against the now 2-7 Lions.
Instead it was Chris Leak making his first CFL start against the lowly BC Lions last night in at Percival Molson stadium in Montréal. After a successful NCAA career, in which Leak won a championship for Florida, he unsuccessfully tried out for a couple of NFL teams before settling in as an Alouette in 2009.
He threw a touchdown in his first CFL play against Saskatchewan last season, but he couldn’t throw one, or even generate a drive that result in one, last night. Other than a late BC drive that resulted in Casey Printers throwing a 20-yard touchdown to Geroy Simon, neither team could muster very much offense in the first half. As a result BC took a 14-3 lead into half time.
Surely Leak had visions of leading his team to victory in the second half, of establishing himself as a worthy option behind Calvillo. The Lions hadn’t won in months, and he had a full arsenal of weapons around him, including Avon Cobourne back from injury, but it wasn`t enough. He started out the second half well completing his first four passes before being intercepted by Tad Crawford.
"I felt great going into the game," said Leak. "It's just football. Sometimes things don't happen the way you want them to. This is just an adverse time. You have to fight through it."
On the ensuing BC drive Printers, and running back Jamal Richardson, led their team to their second major score of the game, taking a 17-3 lead. The frustration was evident as Shea Emry took a roughing the passer penalty on the scoring play, a 5-yard touchdown pass to Steven Black.
Now down by two touchdowns Leak and the Alouettes looked desperate. Leak couldn’t find a receiver anywhere as he scrambled to avoid getting sacked. The crowd booed as he threw the ball out of play, was sacked by an invigorated Lions defense and finally threw his second interception of the day to Korey Banks. The interception led to another BC touchdown, this time a 10-yard run by Yonus Davis.
Chip Cox can`t stop Steven Black from scoring in Montreal  Sept 3rd 2010.
Chip Cox can`t stop Steven Black from scoring in Montreal, Sept 3rd 2010.
Now down 24-3 Leak looked to be getting his offense back on track, or maybe they were finally getting used to each other, as he completed his first pass of their next possession to S.J. Green for a first down. Then on the second play of the drive Leak ran the ball himself, and looked sure to gain another first down before fate denied the potential comeback. Banks once again took advantage of the young quarterback this time recovering his fumble, running it all the way back for another BC touchdown. Leak was also hurt on the play and did not return. He ended the day with 135 yards on 15 completions with two interceptions, a fumble, and nine rushing yards.
"We lost as a team and it starts with me," said head coach Marc Trestman. "Anyone who thinks we didn't have the right quarterback -- that's ridiculous."
With Leak out another young quarterback, Ricky Santos, came into the game. Santos had only one career attempt before last night, and just like Leak it was a touchdown pass. It’s easier to come into a game with no chance to win than it is to fill the shoes of a man who is looking to break every CFL passing record, and Santos took full advantage of the opportunity.
Sanchez can only watch as Santos rushes for a first down.
Sanchez can only watch as Santos rushes for a first down.
He looked rusty on his first drive throwing an incomplete pass and taking a sack, but after Mark Estelle intercepted Travis Lulay, who was in replacing Printers, Santos calmed down and led the Als on a 50-yard scoring drive, ending with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Green. Santos was 10 for 12 with with 93 yards passing and two touchdown passes. He also ran for 37 yards on four carries. Cobourne managed only 57 yards on 13 carries.
Lulay threw another interception to Étienne Boulay late in the fourth, and Santos again took the offense down the field and into the end zone again connecting with Green for a major score. The fourth quarter touchdowns did little to ease the pain of a 38-17 loss.
Next week the 7-2 Alouettes head to Hamilton. Calvillo could be back by then, we’ll find out as the week progresses and he starts practicing with the team. If he doesn’t start, Trestman will probably go back to Leak, but it may not be long before Santos hears his number called again.
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