MONTREAL - Darian Durant played down the revenge factor in the week leading up to facing his old team but, when the game was over, the veteran quarterback admitted it felt good to win.
It took an intervention from what Durant called the "football gods,'' but the 34-year-old who no longer felt wanted when Saskatchewan traded him to Montreal in January came out the winner as the Alouettes topped the Roughriders 17-16 in the CFL season opener on Thursday night.
The Roughriders had a chance to win it on the final play of the game but Tyler Crapigna, who had put three boots through the uprights with confidence, missed from the 45 wide to the right with the game on the line.
"We know the history I had there,'' said Durant, who spent his first 11 seasons with Saskatchewan. "We know how it ended.
"I feel like the football gods always come through when they need to. When things go wrong or don't go the way they're supposed to, the football gods come in. And I think that's what happened tonight.''
Durant may have known his time in Regina was coming to an end last winter when second-year coach and general manager Chris Jones said his quarterback had been only "moderately'' successful and appeared disinterested in signing him to a new contract. He was dealt for a pair of draft picks to Montreal, where he signed a three-year deal.
The Alouettes hope Durant will give them stability at a position that has been a weak spot the last three seasons. It wasn't his best game, but he went 20 for 31 with no interceptions and threw touchdown passes to B.J.Cunningham and Ernest Jackson.
"I think we did a pretty good job,'' said Durant. `"We left a lot of yards and a lot of plays out there, whether it was me missing throws, or penalties. Just not being on the same page. We have the potential to be a very good offence if we can put it all together.''
Kevin Glenn, back with the Roughriders after starting last season with Montreal, completed 31-of-44 passes, including one interception and a TD toss to Bakari Grant. The 38-year-old led a final drive into field-goal range, but it wasn't enough.
"When you take 21 penalties and you have three turnovers it's tough to beat anybody,'' said Jones.
When asked about Crapigna's miss, he said: `"Tyler's a good kicker. He's an 85-something per cent kicker in his career. Certainly we felt we were in decent range to put the ball through.''
Boris Bede's fourth-quarter field goal stood up as the game-winning points for Montreal.
Durant marched the ball to the Saskatchewan 37 on the opening drive, but Bede missed the 45-yard field-goal attempt.
Neither side was able to mount much on attack until 10:25 of the second quarter, when Cunningham got behind safety Mike Edem for a 65-yard touchdown reception.
Glenn hit right back with a 10-play drive capped by a 19-yard TD pass to Grant at 13:27, a play that stood up to video review when Grant was stripped of the ball just past the goal line.
A shanked Bede punt gave the Roughriders another chance and, aided by a 33-yard strike to Nic Demski, Crapigna was good from 35 yards for a 10-7 halftime lead.
A 27-yard run up the middle by Cameron Marshall on the opening play from scrimmage in the second half helped set up Crapigna's 40-yard field goal at 3:27.
Montreal answered with an eight-play drive that saw Jackson make a 12-yard TD catch in the end zone at 7:07.
The end of the third and start of the fourth quarter saw three straight possessions end with turnovers - a fumble by Marshall, a Jonathon Mincy interception and a Nik Lewis fumble. None produced points.
An 18-yard Crapigna boot at 8:04 put the Riders ahead, only to have Bede match it with his own 18-yard kick at 12:31.
Alouettes defensive back Travis Hawkins was injured on the first play of the second half and did not return. Saskatchewan kick returner Ricky Collins also left early with a suspected shoulder injury.