Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Montreal Alouettes End Roller-Coaster Season on Down Note in Hamilton

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Montreal Alouettes End Roller-Coaster Season on Down Note in Hamilton

Article excerpt

Als end roller-coaster season ends on down note


HAMILTON - Montreal's up-and-down season ended painfully Sunday, cut short one game shy of the Grey Cup by mistakes and poor execution.

Hamilton kick-returner Brandon Banks literally left Alouette players twisting in the wind on two punt returns for touchdowns -- three if you count a 78-yard romp for a score called back for holding in the first quarter.

The Tiger-Cats, who scored two more touchdowns on the back of Jonathan Crompton interceptions, went on to win the CFL East Division final 40-24 on a surprisingly balmy 10-degree day at Tim Hortons Field.

Losing coaches usually say how proud they are of their players. But Montreal's Tom Higgins had reason to after seeing his team claw its way back up the standings as the season wore on.

"From where we started, to turning it around to be able to get here, it's heart-wrenching to not be able to finish," Higgins said.

Montreal (9-9-0) started the season at 1-7-0 but finished on an 8-2-0 run before thumping B.C. 50-17 in the Eastern semifinal.

"We wrote a really neat story," Higgins added. "It didn't have a storybook ending but it was still a really neat story. I hope when the athletes reflect back, they look upon it as 'Wow, we really did something this year.'"

"This was a journey for a lot of us young guys, for sure," said linebacker Bear Woods, who had a game-high 13 tackles.

There was some brave talk along the way from the Als, especially in the leadup to Sunday's game. Some Montreal players talked of victory being inevitable while others disparaged some of the Hamilton players they would face.

There was no such banter after the game. The Montreal dressing room was silent, full of big men giving each other hugs of disappointment.

The 60-year-old Higgins, in the nicest possible way, suggested there were lessons to be learned on the subject of talking too freely.

"My personal opinion is you let your actions do your talking for you," he said.

Because, he added, "when you say something, you better back it up ... if you don't do what you say you're going to do, then you don't look very smart."

Wide receiver Duron Carter, who had 75 receptions for 1,030 yards during the regular season, had just three catches for 25 yards Sunday. He did not haul in his first ball until early in the third quarter and that was negated by a penalty. He eventually beat glove-like cornerback Delvin Breaux to register a catch with two minutes left in the quarter.

Carter was also flagged for both objectionable conduct and unnecessary roughness and admitted he lost control.

"It's a helpless feeling when you don't get the ball," he said.

"You live and your learn," he added. "I was frustrated. I'm part of the reason we lost."

Montreal's inability to stop Banks was particularly painful for Higgins, who doubles as special teams coach. …

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