SPORTS

Alouettes, Tiger-Cats struggle with weather in CFL East semifinal

11/10/2013 06:20 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
GUELPH, Ont. - Strong winds wreaked havoc in Sunday's CFL East Division semifinal game but Montreal quarterback Troy Smith wasn't making any excuses.

Smith, who was playing in his first-ever CFL playoff game, completed 14 of 26 pass attempts for 142 yards, one interception and one touchdown on Sunday as the Alouettes lost to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 19-16 in overtime.

"The wind wasn't a factor in what was going on," he said. "As a quarterback we are taught different ways to throw in the wind. We did that. We didn't complete the passes that we wanted to. We didn't make the plays that we wanted to."

Winds were averaging 45 kilometres per hour, but gusted up to 66 km/h during the game, with intermittent rain and a wind chill that made it feel like -1C.

The Alouettes tried to take advantage of the adverse conditions, electing to defer after winning the opening coin toss, giving Montreal the wind in the fourth quarter. When play began in the fourth, the Alouettes had both the wind and a 10-6 advantage behind them.

Still, Hamilton constructed a 97-yard scoring drive into the wind late in the quarter to overcome that deficit and take a three-point lead, one that Montreal would eventually tie to take the game into OT.

"Mother Nature wasn't on our side today," said Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris. "It was hard today to even throw a flat route because the wind would swirl and no matter how high your release was, especially going into the scoreboard (against the wind) she was knocking it down.

"They had to turn into circus catches on occasion, but that's why we've got the playmakers that we do on our side."

Burris completed 23 of 36 attempts for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The winds were at their strongest during the first half, when he completed nine of 11 attempts for 68 yards.

The halftime score was a remarkable 2-0 for Montreal. The winds died down only slightly in the second half, but just enough for both teams, now adjusted to the conditions, to put some points on the board.

Burris said the winds were definitely comparable to what he experienced during his years with the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"And that's why, regardless of what had happened through the game, when it came to the last drive (into the wind during the fourth) I just put everything behind me. I was like, this is what it's all about. Our defence has done a great job. There's no sense in giving up."

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version reported the Alouettes had a 9-6 advantage.

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