TORONTO - Dahrran Diedrick and the Montreal Alouettes breathed a huge sigh of relief Thursday night.
Diedrick scored three rushing TDs in his home town while Anthony Calvillo broke the all-time CFL completions record as Montreal defeated the Toronto Argonauts 36-23 for its first win in three games.
"It's good to come home and score some touchdowns but it's even better to go out and get a win after two losses," the Toronto native said. "We hadn't lost two games in a row since 2008 so we knew we needed to go out there and get a win.
"It was a must-win for us and that's what we talked about. Everybody thought we had to go out there and do as much as we could individually to get us a team win."
Calvillo certainly did his part before a Rogers Centre gathering generously announced at 19,204 with the roof open on a brilliant summer night. After two straight games of completing just 50 per cent of his passes, the 18-year veteran showed pinpoint accuracy against Toronto, completing 30-of-36 passes for 349 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
"Calvillo felt comfortable all night," said Argos head coach Jim Barker. "We didn't have a better plan against him."
Calvillo wasted little time making Damon Allen's completions mark his own, surpassing Allen's record of 5,158 by starting the contest completing nine of his first 10 passes. Earlier this season, Calvillo broke Allen's all-time mark of 394 career TD passes.
Predictably, the victory meant more to Calvillo than the record.
"Whether it's my second or 10th year, to me the key is to be consistent," he said. "Bouncing back from the last couple weeks is what you want to do as a professional.
"This is part of our journey, this is the sixth week of a lot more games to come."
Montreal (4-2) took control of the game in the third, outscoring Toronto 9-0 to take a commanding 29-13 advantage. The Alouettes' front effectively controlled the line of scrimmage against the Argos three-man front, gaining 101 of their 172 yards rushing overall in the quarter.
By comparison, Toronto (1-5) finished minus-3 yards offensively in the quarter en route to dropping its fifth straight game and 10th time in 12 matchups versus the Alouettes.
Brandon Whitaker led the way for Montreal with 150 yards rushing on 19 carries while Diedrick only had 12 yards on five carries, but three were for TDs.
"What's great for us is we had the running game going," Calvillo said. "We handed the ball off a lot, picked up a lot of first downs on second and medium and that goes a long way for us."
Montreal coach Marc Trestman said Toronto's defensive alignment made the run a bigger part of this week's gameplan.
"Every week I get asked the question why we don't run the ball more but at the end of the day we do what we think is best for our team," he said. "This week we felt with the kind of defensive line they have and kind of pass rush they can sustain we wanted to level the playing field a bit with more runs."
Barker felt his team gave Montreal the win.
"I thought we went toe-to-toe with them in the first half," he said. "Then we played as badly as we could in the third quarter and handed them the game.
"We've got to be much better in the third. We can't play that badly against a team like Montreal and expect to win."
Montreal took a 20-13 advantage at halftime, thanks to a strange finish to the second by the Argos. They had possession at the Alouettes' 41-yard line with six seconds remaining but rather than try the field goal Toronto tried one last play.
And instead of throwing a quick out towards the sidelines to at least stop the clock, the ball went to tailback Chad Kackert, who couldn't get to the sidelines before time expired. Barker said he wasn't comfortable letting youngster Grant Shaw try a 48-yard field goal so he wanted Kackert to gain 10 yards, then do a hook slide to stop the clock.
Trouble was, Barker said, no one told Kackert, who finished with 62 yards rushing on 10 carries.
"I was trying to get out of bounds and I didn't make it," he said. "I wasn't aware of the sliding rule, but that's one thing I learned tonight."
Toronto received a solid effort from starter Cleo Lemon, back under centre after missing last week's game in Edmonton with a cracked tooth. Lemon finished 25-of-40 passing for 314 yards with two TDs and one interception off a tipped pass.
"My numbers might look good, but the results don't," Lemon said. "I'm paid to win games.
"Story of our season: Come out with enthusiasm and play hard in the opening half. Then come out in the second and it just doesn't happen. Right now is not a good time for us but the answers are in this room."
Diedrick put Montreal ahead 27-13 with a one-yard run at 4:19 of the third. After Toronto surrendered a safety later in the quarter, Diedrick put the Alouettes comfortably ahead 36-13 with another one-yard TD run at 2:23 of the fourth.
S.J. Green had Montreal's other touchdown. Sean Whyte added the converts and two field goals. The other points came on a safety.
Spencer Watt and Mike Bradwell scored Toronto's touchdowns, Grant Shaw booted three field goals and two converts.
Calvillo quickly took care of Allen's all-time record, surpassing the mark with an 18-yard completion to Brandon London late in the first.
Play continued on although the achievement was acknowledged on the Jumbotron. Calvillo came in needing just nine completions to surpass Allen and Whyte's 12-yard field goal at 13:31 put Montreal ahead 10-3.
Lemon pulled Toronto into a 10-10 tie with a 20-yard TD strike to Watt at 1:59 of the second.
But Diedrick's two-yard run at 11:52 put Montreal ahead 17-10. He capped a six-play, 47-yard drive set up by Billy Parker's interception of a pass tipped by Jeremaine Copeland.