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MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes entered their Week 3 home opener against Saskatchewan on the heels of back-to-back tough losses to start the season, but they received a major spark from return specialist Chandler Worthy that provided the boost they needed to turn things around.
With an 88-yard return touchdown on the opening kickoff on Thursday, Worthy put Montreal (1-2) in the driver’s seat while injecting energy into the entire team. It was the kind of start the Als were looking for after losing their first two games by a combined four points.
Montreal quarterback Trevor Harris, who completed 73 per cent of his passes for 262 yards and a touchdown, said the big difference in the team’s performance all stemmed from Worthy’s momentum-building opening play.
“The energy from the jump, that’s kind of what we’ve been preaching all week was making sure that we have the energy coming out from the jump. If we do that, we feel like we can win every game that we play in,” Harris said.
“Having Chandler back there flipping the field for us a lot of the night and our special teams doing a great job was was pretty awesome.”
Worthy made an impact every time he touched the ball on special teams in the 37-13 win, finishing with 205 combined return yards. The 28-year-old speedster almost had another touchdown on a 72-yard punt return, but it was called back due to an illegal block.
Montreal’s special teams was a major factor across the board against the Roughriders (2-1), as David Côté was perfect with five field goals in a bounce-back performance after missing attempts in the first two weeks.
The defence also swarmed Saskatchewan on every pass attempt, finishing with eight sacks and three interceptions — with one that was returned for a 21-yard touchdown by Marc-Antoine Dequoy.
But the Als players said it was the big opening kickoff return that set everything in motion for their first victory of the season. It’s the second-fastest touchdown to open a game in CFL history at 12 seconds.
“That really kickstarted our home opener. We needed that the energy boost to set the tone for the rest of the game, so I’m glad he did it, ” said receiver Kaion Julien-Grant, who also found the end zone with his first career CFL touchdown.
Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson was frustrated at halftime with his team’s lack of response to the quick game-changing play, saying they had prepared for Worthy during the week.
“We ran into a buzzsaw. They came out fast right from the jump; we didn’t do a good job of responding,” Dickenson said.
“That guy (Worthy) is fast, he’s strong. We knew he was a good football player, and we tried to show some highlights of him. We didn’t start very well.”
Beyond the game, it was also a great start for Worthy in his first season with Montreal after spending the last three with the Argonauts.
“That changes the game, those are momentum-changers in the game. Worthy’s been doing this for a couple years now; he did it to us when he was in Toronto. We’ve seen it in practice and things like that, and we’re just grateful he’s on our team now,” receiver Eugene Lewis said.
The Riders will look to make adjustments before meeting the Als again in Week 4 when they square off at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on July 2 at 7 p.m. ET.