For Joe Paopao and the Ottawa Renegades close is just not enough anymore, with the season past the half way point the Rens need wins, and need them fast. Ottawa is desperately trying to keep pace with the Hamilton Tiger Cats and Toronto Argonauts for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Friday night gave them a huge task; take on the always tough Montreal Alouettes, a team that has won all but one game this year. But for roughly 55 minutes or so they were more than up for the job at hand. As the Renegades played hard nosed football, getting the best out of a beat up offence with Quarterback Kerry Joseph taking his lumps in order to keep the Rens moving down the field.
Ottawa and Montreal traded leads for three quarters, with Ottawa finally surrendering the lead for good in the third quarter. The killer on this night was a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter, returned all the way for an insurance touchdown as the Alouettes put the finishing touches on a 25-16 victory over the Renegades at Frank Clair Stadium. The loss as unfair as it is for the hardworking Rens drops their record to 4 and 7 and keeps them mired in last place in the CFL East.
Montreal had all they could handle on this Friday night, but as long time CFL watchers know, a Don Matthews coached team is never really out of a game, whatever the score, whatever the time left. And this Friday was no exception, Anthony Calvillo kept the Als within striking distance for most of the game, answering Ottawa scoring drives point for point.
The Alouette defence came up big when it was needed most, putting the Renegades into a punting situation with less than eight minutes to go. The Alouettes blocked the Sandro Sciortino kick, Stephane Fortin chased it down the field and scooped it up and was off into the Renegades end zone. Game, set and match, Alouettes take the win and prepare for next weeks contest with Hamilton at Molson Stadium in Montreal.
For Ottawa the loss was a particularly bitter one, having played up to the level and at times surpassing the elite of the East. A hard fought effort going for naught, when it was needed most. Things don’t get any easier for the Renegades; next up on the schedule is a trip out to Vancouver to take on the Western Division leading BC Lions, how come off a bye week and with rumbles that Dave Dickenson is preparing to return to the Lion line up. Whether it’s on the field or on the schedule the Renegades can’t seem to catch a break this year.