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JuicyLesson 313 : Last JuicyLesson Tomorrow … Today Alouettes Win … Jury Selection in Disturbing Luka Magnotta Murder(s) Trial Set to Begin …

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Above : James Rodgers did a pretty fair impression of Johnny Rodgers in Sunday’s game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Molson Stadium.
Photograph by: John Mahoney , The Gazette

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Above: Montreal Alouettes Brandon Whittaker, left, picks up loose ball fumbled by quarterback Jonathan Crompton, in front of Hamilton Tiger Cats Craig Butler and Brian Bulcke during first half of Canadian Football League game at Molson Stadium in Montreal Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014.
Photograph by: John Mahoney, The Gazette

Alouettes show character in defeating Hamilton yesterday
MONTREAL — You start to wonder. Is it possible, out of this wild and crazy and apparently lost season, that the Alouettes could rally, put together a drive down the stretch and rescue something from a campaign that appeared lost a couple of weeks ago?

For the first half and part of the third quarter Sunday, the Alouettes looked all too familiar. Missed receivers. Blown coverages. Falling farther and farther behind a pretty good Hamilton Tiger-Cats team.

Then came the fireworks and when the dust had settled, there were your Sad Sack Alouettes, on the happy end of a 38-31 score.
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In no particular order: There was James Rodgers, doing a pretty fair impression of another guy named Rodgers: the Ordinary Superstar himself, Johnny Rodgers.

There was that defence. The stats don’t look that good this season because they’ve been on the field more than the yard markers, but the Alouettes have a superb defence, led by Chip Cox, John Bowman and heavy-hitting Kyries Hebert.

There was a banged-up offensive line that still offered pretty good protection for the quarterback. And there was the will to win, which is what matters most.

I’m still less than completely sold on the quarterback, Jonathan Crompton. I was initially put off by the hair because, as an unreconstructed ’60s hippie, I like my quarterbacks to look like quarterbacks and my hippies to look like hippies so I know where I stand, but at least Crompton had good reason to grow it for the Locks for Love campaign. Your heart has to go out to a guy whose former fiancée died of ovarian cancer Friday. Sunday afternoon, his head had to be in another place.

(Even with the long hair, Crompton looks considerably more presentable than Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus, who plays major-league ball while looking like a gutter in search of a rummy. Some guys look like they need a shave and a haircut. Rasmus appears to need a shave, a haircut and a delousing tank.)

Crompton did play some ball Sunday, though it was a case of better late than never, after an ugly first half. He’s big, he’s strong, he has a good arm — all things you could say about Troy Smith.

Even following that second-half comeback, Crompton’s numbers were underwhelming: 18-for-27 for 206 yards with one touchdown and one interception. But Crompton hit his receivers when they were open in the second half, discovering that Señor Ochocinco is indeed on the roster to the tune of three catches and 73 yards, finding Duron Carter four times and S.J. Green three for minimal yardage.

If there’s one thing that emerged from this game, it’s that the Alouettes still have one of the premier receiving corps in the league. It’s frightening to think what a healthy Anthony Calvillo could do with that bunch of big, fast pass-catchers.

The Alouettes also showed more than a little resilience, bouncing back from injuries (including those to Jeff Perrett and Marc-Olivier Brouillette) and a couple of touchdowns on the south end of the score for the win. They had help, however, from the usual inept CFL refereeing crew. Hamilton was flagged 13 times to the Alouettes’ 12, but what mattered were the calls on the Alouettes that the officials let go, especially two potential pass-interference flags on the play when Billy Parker intercepted Zach Collaros and ran the ball back to the Hamilton 4-yard line at the 9:10 mark of the third quarter, with the Als trailing 24-10.

It wasn’t apparent at the time, but that was the ball game. Hamilton, predictably, was flagged for pass interference and Tanner Marsh finally ran it in to close the gap to 24-17.

Despite the assistance from the zebras and some timely Hamilton miscues, the Alouettes did breathe a bit of life into their season. In this dizzy season, they could easily snatch a playoff berth or even win the woeful East, and once you get to the post-season, who knows?

As usual with the CFL, the referees were the story as much as anything. I happened to be watching the Pac-12 tussle between Stanford and USC Saturday afternoon when the broadcast crew started talking about how shocked they were over the penalty situation. It was into the fourth quarter and the refs had already thrown 17 flags! Imagine!

The penalties in NCAA football could be chalked up to the fact that you had college kids playing their second game of the season. In the CFL, we have pros halfway through the campaign and you’re shocked when a play goes off without a penalty flag.

I know, the coaches wanted it called this way. But coaches are the last people in the world of sports you should trust with the value of the entertainment product on the field. If it were entirely up to the coaches, they would have trapped the NHL to death 10 years ago.

As Exhibit A, I would point to Friday night’s horror show between the B.C. Lions and the Ottawa Team With No Name. The Lions can score, but they were hampered by a combination of a good No Name defence, some horrible weather — and 13 penalties for 109 yards.

The result was a 7-5 win for B.C. that featured no touchdowns, three field goals, one safety and a punt single. And if you were watching at the end, after nearly four hours of something that vaguely resembled football, you are either a fan without a life or a sports columnist, because I can’t imagine why anyone else would want to look at this.

Sunday’s Alouettes victory was exciting despite the officiating. But if it doesn’t change, they’re going to kill everything, including the Grey Cup. Which would be a pity, because at the risk of sounding completely bananas and despite everything that has happened this season, I think these Alouettes are a good bet to make it to the big game.
jacktodd46@yahoo.com
Twitter: JackTodd46
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Jury selection to begin in gruesome Luka Magnotta “incident”
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Above : Luka Magnotta is taken by police from a military plane to a waiting van in Mirabel on June 18, 2012. Photograph by: SPVM , THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL — First a foot, neatly packaged and labelled, was delivered by Canada Post to Conservative Party headquarters. Then a hand and foot — badly decomposed by the time they made their way across the country — were delivered to two Vancouver schools.

For about a week, the news headlines were filled with increasingly gruesome details, as the mystery of the body parts unfolded. Another hand discovered. The head. The torso.

Interpol was alerted, sparking an international manhunt.

On June 4, 2012, Ontario-born Luka Magnotta was arrested in an Internet café in Berlin.

On Monday, jury selection for what is sure to be one of the most closely watched trials since perhaps that of killer Paul Bernardo is to get underway at the Montreal courthouse.

With both the Crown and defence weighing in, 12 members of the public will be chosen to determine the fate of the 31-year-old accused as they sit through six to eight weeks of disturbing evidence.

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