Fajardo throws 3 touchdowns as Alouettes stun Blue Bombers to win 1st Gray Cup since 2010

With the sport on the road, Cody Fajardo and Tyson Philpot delivered the Montreal Alouettes a very unlikely Gray Cup title.

Fajardo’s 19-yard TD cross to Philpot with 15 seconds remaining rallied Montreal to an exciting 28-24 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday in Hamilton. It earned the Alouettes their first CFL title since 2010 and adopted an unsure low season that noticed the franchise taken over by the league in February, then offered a month later to businessman Pierre Karl Peladeau.

Fajardo’s toss capped a stellar seven-play, 83-yard march. It included a clutch 31-yard completion to Cole Spieker on third-and-five earlier than a Tim Hortons Area sellout of 28,808 as Montreal ended its season with eight straight wins.

“While you develop up as a child, you at all times need the ball in your palms with the sport on the road on the most important stage,” Fajardo mentioned. “I keep in mind taking the sphere, I used to be so calm.

“I do know as soon as Cole went up and made that play, I mentioned, ‘It is all occurring for a cause.”‘

Winnipeg had a remaining probability to drag out a comeback win. Zach Collaros accomplished a cross to punter Jamieson Sheahan, who tried in addition the ball into the endzone nevertheless it fell quick and was recovered by Montreal.

WATCH | Alouettes again on high of CFL:

Montreal Alouettes win Gray Cup over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Featured VideoThe Montreal Alouettes upset the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with a late-game landing to win the 2023 Gray Cup with a remaining rating of 28-24.

“He [Fajardo] channelled his inside Ricky Ray,” mentioned Montreal defensive lineman Shawn Lemon, who gained a Gray Cup with Ray in Toronto in 2017. “Possibly it was the moustache however we did it.

“We’re champs.”

‘Cool, calm and picked up’

Fajardo additionally earned his first victory in 10 profession head-to-head matchups versus Collaros.

Philpot, 23, of Delta, B.C., was the highest Canadian with six catches for 63 yards. He mentioned there was a quiet confidence in Montreal’s huddle on the game-winning drive.

“Cool, calm and picked up,” he mentioned. “We knew all recreation they weren’t stopping us, it was us stopping ourselves.

“So we needed to do our jobs, take it little by little and march it down the sphere. That is what we did.”

Winnipeg, within the Gray Cup for a fourth straight yr, suffered a second consecutive loss after beating Hamilton in 2019 and ’21. The Toronto Argonauts edged the Bombers 24-23 final yr.

“You have a look at all the recreation and we’re a couple of performs quick,” mentioned Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea. “That is about it.

“And so they made some performs. They generated some performs in good, well timed positions.”

Fajardo has ‘given all the things he is needed to this staff’

Fajardo completed 21-of-26 passing for 290 yards with three TDs and an interception to assert MVP honours. He gained his first Gray Cup as a starter after incomes a hoop with Toronto in 2017 as a backup.

Heady stuff, contemplating little was anticipated this season from Montreal, which misplaced quarterback Trevor Harris and receiver Eugene Lewis in free company. However GM Danny Maciocia employed head coach Jason Maas and signed Fajardo when Saskatchewan moved on from each — Maas was the Roughriders’ offensive co-ordinator — after dropping their remaining seven regular-season video games to overlook the CFL playoffs.

Fajardo significantly contemplated retirement earlier than signing with Montreal. This week, Fajardo known as the Alouettes “a band of misfit toys.”

“Danny provided me a two-year deal when most groups have been providing me a one-year deal and that is what solidified it for us,” he mentioned. “My spouse [Laura] mentioned, ‘You are not executed but, you are not going to exit the way in which we did shedding seven straight and principally getting booted out of [Saskatchewan].

“I owe all the things to her, I owe this evening to her.”

A football player points in the air while holding his son.
Alouettes quarterback Cody Fajardo (7) holds his son Luca as he celebrates Montreal’s Gray Cup victory. Fajardo was named MVP with 290 passing yards and three touchdowns. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Maas earned his fourth Gray Cup however first as a head coach. His first two got here as a quarterback with Edmonton (2003, ’05) earlier than successful in 2012 as Toronto’s quarterback coach.

However Maas was pleased to see his quarterback come via with a clutch efficiency.

“It seems to be good on him as a result of the man pours his coronary heart and soul into all the things he does,” Maas mentioned. “He is given all the things he is needed to this staff.

“It is good to see the offence there on the finish rating when it actually wanted to. He is the chief of that.”

Oliveira’s stellar effort spoiled

The loss tarnished a stellar effort by Winnipeg working again Brady Oliveira. The CFL’s excellent Canadian ran for 119 yards and a TD, his third 100-yard dashing efficiency in as many video games this yr versus Montreal.

Dakota Prukop’s four-yard run at 9:32 of the fourth put Winnipeg forward 24-21. Fajardo had staked Montreal to a 21-17 lead — its first of the sport — with a 13-yard TD cross at 3:48 to Austin Mack, who had six catches for 103 yards.

The 28-yard scoring drive was arrange by Philpot’s 30-yard punt return.

Collaros, the primary CFL quarterback to begin 4 straight Gray Cups, completed 19-of-23 passing for 236 yards with an interception.

Bighill, Schoen play for Winnipeg

Linebacker Adam Bighill (proper calf) and receiver Dalton Schoen (ankle) each performed for Winnipeg regardless of neither practising this week. Bighill was injured in final week’s West Division remaining whereas Schoen, the membership’s high receiver, hadn’t performed since Oct. 6.

Each noticed motion however every was substituted all through the competition. Schoen had three catches for 36 yards whereas Bighill recorded a sort out.

Montreal, which entered the sport an eight-point underdog, earned its eighth Gray Cup in 19 appearances.

Winnipeg’s Sergio Castillo booted three converts and a discipline purpose.

William Stanback and Spieker scored Montreal’s different touchdowns. David Cote added 4 converts.

Fajardo’s 23-yard TD strike to Spieker — with Bighill attempting to defend — pulled Montreal to inside 17-14 at 1:43 of the third. Winnipeg threatened, driving to the Als’ nine-yard line earlier than Kabion Ento intercepted Collaros within the endzone.

A stout defensive stand earned Winnipeg its 17-7 half-time benefit. Center linebacker Shayne Gauthier — taking part in the place Bighill would usually be — stopped Montreal quarterback Caleb Evans on third-and-one with eight seconds remaining.

That would’ve been a turning level within the recreation. As a substitute, it galvanized the Alouettes.

“It most likely gave them a variety of momentum nevertheless it did not kill us,” Maas mentioned. “Simply exit and play one other half-hour as laborious as we are able to, go away all of it on the road and play for one another.”

Added linebacker Darnell Sankey, who joined the Alouettes in September: “We simply bought collectively and mentioned, ‘We imagine. We’re not going to lose. We aren’t going to lose.’ That is precisely what we got here out right here and did. We introduced it to them.”

Prukop’s one-yard run at 12:08 of the second staked Winnipeg to a 17-7 benefit. It was arrange by Mike Miller’s restoration of James Letcher Jr.’s punt-return fumble at Montreal’s 29-yard line.

Stanback’s 32-yard TD run at 14:55 of the primary minimize Winnipeg’s result in 10-7. The four-play, 77-yard march was a powerful reply to Oliveira’s five-yard TD run at 12 minutes that capped the Bombers’ eight-play, 66-yard possession that was aided by a questionable pointless roughness name on Montreal’s Mustafa Johnson.

Castillo opened the scoring with a 25-yard discipline purpose at 6:28 as Winnipeg had possession for 11 minutes, 5 seconds within the quarter.

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