MONTREAL -- The Montreal Alouettes quarterback carousel has taken a promising turn with 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. The former Ohio State star who only joined the Alouettes in August threw three touchdown passes in his first CFL start as Montreal downed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 36-5 to tighten the race for playoff positions on Sunday afternoon. "Its been cool," Smith said of his quick adaptation to 12-man football. "My teammates have helped me out tremendously. "The adaptation is definitely still going on. Im trying day in and day out to get things down pat. Its been fun." The team announced this week that CFL all-time passing leader Anthony Calvillo, who has been out since August with a concussion, will not return this season. That made finding a starter to finish out the campaign and take Montreal into the playoffs has been a priority. Tanner Marsh had a good stretch but then faltered, as did Josh Neiswander. Now it is Smiths turn, and he passed the first test by completing 17 of 35 passes for 247 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. "He did a great job," said coach Jim Popp. "I dont know if he was nervous. "We didnt run everything right. Its great to be able to take what we did today and improve on it. We know theres a lot of upside to what were doing. We were moving the ball and scoring and we got over that 30-point mark like we said we needed to do." S.J. Green, with two, and Arland Bruce were on the receiving end of TD throws, while Tyrell Sutton ran one in. Sean Whyte had two field goals as Montreal won for the third time in four games. The third-place Alouettes (7-9) are hoping to overtake Hamilton (8-8) for second place in the East Division and the right to play host to a playoff game. The teams meet again on Saturday in Guelph, Ont., with the winner taking the season series between the two clubs. The Montreal defence held CFL offensive player of the week C.J. Gable to no yards on three carries and only 39 yards on six catches. It also limited Henry Burris to 106 passing yards before he was replaced by Dan LeFevour late in the third quarter. Coach Kent Austin didnt know what to make of a team that was coming off winning its season series with first-place Toronto, who they can still catch for first place. They were anaemic on attack, and ruined a handful of positive plays with penalties. "Just generally speaking, for whatever reason, we werent ready to play and they were," said Austin. "They brought the game to us. "They were more physical than us. They just whipped us in all three areas of the game. We werent disciplined. We had too many penalties. Ive got to figure out why we werent ready to play like we have been the last couple of weeks. Ive got to get to the bottom of it. Ive got to get my team better prepared." The Ticats only scoring came from a Luca Congi field goal and a safety. "We executed our defence," said Montreal linebacker Shea Emry. "Weve had lots of games where we put that many points up and we let teams slip back in. "There were times we almost did that, but then we didnt let them capitalize on those penalties or plays." Smith has seen mostly spot duty since he signed, but after Neiswander struggled in a loss to Winnipeg last week, Popp decided to give the former Baltimore Raven and San Francisco 49er a start. Smith, the fourth Alouette quarterback to start a game this season, didnt disappoint as he threw for 207 yards and three TDs in the first half as Montreal opened a 31-3 lead. In the opening quarter, he hit Green for TDs of 64 and two yards. With his 11th and 12th of the season, Green reached a career high in TD catches in a season and passed the 1,000-yard mark for a third straight year. After Congis 26-yard field goal to open the second quarter, Sutton scored on a 19-yard run off tackle at 5:46. Whyte added a 32-yard boot after a 40-yard punt return by Bo Bowling at 12:21 and Smith hit Bruce with a sideline pass for a 26-yard score just ahead of halftime. Montreal slowed play down after the intermission, adding a field goal, while each team conceded a safety. Smith admitted he was a nervous at the start. His first two possessions were two-and-outs. But then he hit Bowling with a 12-yard pass and on the next play found Green wide open for a TD. He also showed he could use his feet, both to buy time for a pass while scrambling or to gain 16 yards on three rushes. "To start off, I was anxious," he said. "Some of my throws were not normal throws. The first completion to Bo Bowling was huge. Sometimes you just need something like that to get you going." Notes: Bowling returned after missing the opening 15 games with an ankle injury. . . The result tied the season series between the teams at one win each, as the Ticats beat Montreal 28-26 in Moncton, N.B. on Sept. 21. . . The Ticats wasted a chance to clinch a home playoff date. . . Burris rushed for one yard, leaving him five short of 5,000 for his career. Jose Cruz Jersey
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. TSNs Farhan Lalji reports the Edmonton Eskimos non-import DT has a workout scheduled with an NFL team next week and isnt expected to sign a deal with any team until then.GENEVA -- FIFA has banned Croatia defender Josip Simunic for 10 games -- including the entire World Cup -- for leading fans in a pro-Nazi chant after the team qualified for the tournament in Brazil. Simunic invoked a World War II-era slogan used by Croatias then-puppet regime following a 2-0 playoff victory against Iceland last month. "After taking into account all of the circumstances of the case, and particularly given the gravity of the incident, the committee decided to suspend the player for 10 official matches," FIFA said in a statement. The incident is the latest to discredit football in Croatia, after UEFA President Michel Platini described its fans as the worst behaved at the 2012 European Championship. The sanction also reflected FIFAs commitment this year to tougher sanctions for racism and discrimination at matches. Croatia coach Niko Kovac, a teammate of Simunic at the 2006 World Cup, said the ban probably ended the 35-year-old defenders national team career. "Im unpleasantly surprised, shocked and disappointed by FIFAs ban of Simunic," Kovac said. "Im primarily sad for Simunic who will miss the World Cup. I know him for long as a player and a person and Im sure he did not want to offend anyone." Kovac said the Croatian football federation would appeal to FIFA. If that fails, a challenge at the Court of Arbitration for Sport could follow. Croatia hosted Iceland in Zagreb on Nov. 19 for a decisive qualifying match after a 0-0 draw in the first leg. After the match, Simunic took a microphone on the pitch and shouted to supporters: "For thee homeland!" The fans responded: "Ready!" FIFA said Monday that the salute was "discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons concerning .dddddddddddd.. race, religion or origin." Simunic will miss the whole World Cup tournament in Brazil and is also barred from the stadiums where Croatia will play its next 10 games. Simunic said he felt "bitter and shocked," according to Damir Vrbanovic, managing director of Croatias football federation "It is clear that FIFA wanted to send a strong message with this draconian punishment," Vrbanovic said. FIFA also fined Simunic 30,000 Swiss francs ($33,800) and ordered the Croatia football federation to pay a fine of 70,000 Swiss francs ($78,700). Simunic previously defended his action, saying he was driven by love for his country. The Australia-born player famously was sent off at the 2006 World Cup against Australia after receiving three yellow cards. In a separate FIFA disciplinary verdict Monday, Croatia star forward Mario Mandzukic was banned for just one World Cup match for a red-card challenge against Iceland. Mandzukic will miss the tournaments opening match when Croatia plays host Brazil in Sao Paulo on June 12. "We knew that Mandzukic will be punished and in that context we are happy its a one-match suspension," Kovac said. The FIFA panel imposed the minimum sanction on Mandzukic for serious foul play. The Bayern Munich forward, who scored the opening goal minutes earlier, was sent off for stamping on Iceland midfielder Johann Gudmundssons left knee. ' ' '