MONTREAL — Alouettes kick returner Chandler Worthy made a spectacular first impression on the Montreal crowd Thursday.
In his first outing as an Alouette at Percival Molson Stadium, Worthy returned the opening kickoff, putting Montreal up just 15 seconds into the game.
The Als never looked back on their way to a 37-13 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“Honestly, I was nervous coming out. I was talking to my brother, he was talking me through thoughts of doubt because we all have them, you know,” said Worthy, who picked up a combined 205 yards from kickoff and punt returns.
“Wanting to impress everybody, dealing with uncertainty and all of those things. So just coming out, all that was on my mind was do whatever it takes to win and fight with hope in my heart. Thankfully I was able to break through and help spark the team so that we win.”
The Alouettes (1-2) had a complete effort in their home opener with the offence, defence and special teams recording touchdowns.
Quarterback Trevor Harris completed 16 of 22 attempts, throwing for 262 yards and one touchdown. Dominique Davis also stepped in at QB, adding 11 passing yards.
Harris said his team wanted to take control early.
“That's kind of what we've been preaching all week was making sure that we have the energy coming out from the jump and if we do that we feel like we can win every game that we play,” he said.
Harris stepped in as starter after Vernon Adams Jr. tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.
“(Harris has) given us a lot of confidence and he has a good way about him,” said Alouettes coach Khari Jones. “He's been in this league 10 years now and still can do everything athletically and can think the game really well. He's just a quality quarterback and we saw that today and he made really good decisions.”
Saskatchewan's Cody Fajardo had a tough day at the office, throwing for 191 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked seven times before being pulled in the fourth quarter.
Mason Fine came on in relief and tallied 83 passing yards for the Roughriders (2-1), with one touchdown and one interception.
“We'd obviously love to run back the opening kickoff. Because then you're up 7-0 already and your crowd’s involved and it just made it difficult on us,” Fajardo said. “They beat us in all three phases tonight, especially offensively, they brought their A game and we got to be ready for them."
The Alouettes started in explosive fashion with Worthy returning the opening kickoff for an 88-yard touchdown.
David Cote added to Montreal’s lead with two consecutive field goals, including a 48-yard kick that gave his side a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Roughriders broke the ice at the start of the second with a 41-yard field goal by Brett Lauther.
But Montreal answered right away with Harris’ first touchdown pass of the season. The veteran threw a 70-yard bomb for Kaion Julien-Grant on the next play increasing the Als’ lead to 20-3.
Cote's third field goal of the night gave Montreal a 20-point advantage heading into halftime.
Saskatchewan attempted a scoring drive to start the second half but Montreal’s defence held the Riders in the red zone, limiting the visitors to a field goal.
Als safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy notched his first CFL touchdown after intercepting a ball Riders receiver Duke Williams dropped in mid-air. His 21-yard return gave Montreal a 30-6 lead.
Cote recorded his fourth and fifth field goals of the game and recorded a single in the fourth quarter to bring the score to 37-6.
The Riders scored their lone touchdown of the night in the dying embers of the game when Fine found Williams with a five-yard pass.
The two sides will meet for a rematch in Regina on July 2.
Harris said the Alouettes cannot — and will not sit — on the laurels after capturing their first victory of the season.
“I think there's a lot of belief that's tied to that (win) but we know Saskatchewan is going to come out with a greater effort at home,” Harris said. “We're going to flush this just like we flush a loss. … We're going to flush this one and make sure we get better.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2022.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press