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Alouettes-Ticats rematch to decide second place in CFL East Division

09/10/2011 06:02 EDT | Updated 11/10/2011 05:12 EST
MONTREAL - The Montreal Alouettes took their worst beating of the season a week ago in Hamilton and now they have to face quarterback Kevin Glenn and the Tiger-Cats again.

The two teams that are tied for second place in the CFL East Division with 5-4 records meet at Percival Molson Stadium on Sunday (TSN, 1 p.m. ET) as part of league-wide back-to-back match-ups at mid-season.

Most of the time, the team that loses the first game comes back to win the second, as Calgary did at Edmonton on Friday night, but there is extra urgency for the two-time defending champion Alouettes.

Montreal has lost two in a row, and four of its last six games, and was trounced 44-21 last Monday at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

"This is the 2011 team and we're trying to find out who we are right now," said quarterback Anthony Calvillo. "We lost two consecutive games twice this year and were able to bounce back (last time).

"But right now, I don't know how to look at it — whether other teams have got better or we dropped off. All we know is it's tough right now to win week to week. You can't make mistakes. In the games we lost, we made too many mistakes and that's unacceptable, especially from a veteran group. Especially on offence. And that's what we're working on."

The Alouettes offence moved the ball at times, but was unable to score a touchdown in Hamilton. The defence got the majors through turnovers, even if it had a miserable game overall.

Avon Cobourne, the former Alouette who signed with Hamilton, ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns to lead the charge, but the injury-plagued defensive backfield also struggled against the Ticats strong receiving crew of Chris Williams, Dave Stala, Mo Mann and Bakari Grant.

Mark Estelle, Jerald Brown and Etienne Boulay remain sidelined, along with Canadian middle linebacker Shea Emery, who will miss a second game with a concussion.

To manage the import ratio, Jermain McElween will sit out while mobile defensive tackle Eric Wilson returns after being given the week off in Hamilton. And safety Marc-Olivier Brouillette is to return from the injured list.

The Ticats are expected to be without all-star centre Marwan Hage, who would be replaced by Mark Dewit.

Hamilton is 4-1 at home this season but only 1-3 on the road. The Ticats haven't won in Montreal since 2002.

But last week, their defence used a lot of unusual set-ups and had Calvillo off-balance.

"They were an 80 per cent man to man, cover zero team, and they did the total opposite against us," he said. "They played a lot more zone and brought some blitzes they hadn't shown.

"So give them credit for that. But what's great about our offence is, as long as I go through my reads, no matter what the defence does, I should be able to get to an open guy. There were times I didn't come down to my check down. There were times when I misread the coverage. Those are the mistakes where it's not one person, it's the collective group. And the way the league is now, you just cannot afford it."

Guard Scott Flory said the Alouettes also need to turn up the intensity.

"They mixed things up, they broke some of their tendencies and gave us a different look, but at the end of the day, it's really about us," said Flory. "It shouldn't matter what they do.

"Our schemes are set up that we should be able to block anything and the routes should be open. We've got to get back to playing angry football. If we do that and come out with an edge, we'll be successful."

The Ticats are 2-0 against Montreal with two meetings left, but a win will clinch the season series, which would be the difference if the teams end up tied at the end of the regular season.

But it will be tough to win two in a row. Calvillo went into the weekend's slate of games as the league's top quarterback with 204 completions for 2,680 yards, Jamel Richardson was the top receiver with 902 yards and Brandon Whitaker was the top running back with 669 yards — 48 more than Cobourne.

The emotion should also be higher after the lopsided loss.

"They weren't really sportsmanlike, taking cheap shots and celebrating and things like that," said Montreal defensive end John Bowman. "That's not cool, but the refs didn't slap them for it, so it's all good."

The Alouettes will honour one of their most talented players of all time in Johnny Rodgers, the "ordinary superstar" of the 1970s.

There may be some trying times for people entering and leaving the game as a Grand Prix cycling race is being held at the same time, with the start-finish line beside the stadium. Both events are expected to end at about the same time.

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