Ward’s streak boots Redblacks to victory (& 10 other thoughts)

Thanks to some impressive accuracy from their rookie kicker, the Ottawa Redblacks defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 21-15, earning their third consecutive win at Tim Horton’s Field. 

Here are all my thoughts on the game:

1) While Trevor Harris put up solid numbers (completing 65% of his passes for 228 yards), the fact of the matter is he was merely pedestrian in his 48th career start. He probably should’ve been picked off once but that was balanced out by R.J. Harris’ wide open end zone drop. Of Harris’ 23 completions, only two were for gains of 30 or more yards. Until Harris starts pushing the ball (and completing passes) down the field, the Redblacks’ offence will struggle to generate points with consistency. On the evening as a whole, Harris only had one drive in which he completed more than three passes. Talk about struggling to find a rhythm. 

2) As easy as it would be to pile on Harris, his offensive coordinator isn’t doing much to help him out. Jamie Elizondo’s play calling in recent weeks has been bland, with the run game in particular suffering. Of Ottawa’s 14 offensive possessions, nine lasted five plays or less. The offence gained just 315 net yards (averaging 5.4 yards per play) on the night. The unit converted only 10-of-25 second down opportunities (40%) and went 0-for-2 in the red zone. It’s rare to win a CFL game when held out of the end zone, but Elizondo can thank his kicker for bailing him out. It’s fair to say the offence has tons of room for improvement.

3) After averaging 6.5 yards per carry over Ottawa’s first three games, it seems as if William Powell has hit a wall. Since starting off on a torrid pace, a combination of poor blocking up front and predictable run plays have resulted in Powell’s ground production slowing to a halt. In the last three games, Powell has gained 114 yards on 37 carries, good for an average of 3 yards per touch.

But even as Powell’s rushing totals have diminished, he remains an important cog as a safety outlet for his quarterback. Against the Ticats Powell caught three passes for 61 yards, including a fourth quarter 50-yard catch and scamper that set up a crucial field goal.

4) Brad Sinopoli continues to carry the load among the Redblacks’ receiving corps. No. 88 made it look easy as he shredded the Ticats’ secondary to the tune of nine catches for 82 yards. Most importantly, four of those catches came on second down to keep drives alive. In his last four games, Sinopoli has hauled in 35 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns.

5) As for the rest of Ottawa’s receivers, anyone not a former CIS quarterback continues to underwhelm. Greg Ellingson was targeted 10 times, but turned that into three catches for 34 yards. Diontae Spencer caught all four passes thrown his way, but having your fastest receiver average 4.5 yards per reception is hardly ideal. R.J. Harris caught a long jump ball, nearly completing a Hail Mary, but later dropped a surefire touchdown. 

Nice to see fullback J.C Beaulieu involved in the passing game. His two targets turned into a pair of catches for 17 yards. Jamie Elizondo would be wise to take advantage of his battering ram’s soft hands.

6) Another game, another strong defensive performance from Noel Thorpe’s unit. For all the struggles on the offensive side of the ball, at least the Redblacks know they can always bank on a strong effort from their defence. Led by Anthony Cioffi’s five tackles and two sacks, A.C. Leonard’s five tackles and one sack, Loucheiz Purifoy’s six tackles and a group effort that left four other players with four tackles apiece, the Redblacks kept a potent Ticats’ attack under wraps for the majority of the night. 13 Hamilton possessions resulted in six punts, an interception, a blocked field and two missed field goals. The Redblacks sacked Masoli five times, held Hamilton to 31 rushing yards and only gave up a single (late) touchdown. Thorpe’s unit cemented the win with back to back sacks on the game’s final drive.

7) Lewis Ward will always have fond memories of his first trip to the Hammer. By going 7-of-7 in field attempts, Ward has strung his streak of made kicks to 17 in a row. Ward is now 20-for-21 on the season and has not missed from inside the 47-yard mark. On a night when his offence failed to score a touchdown, Ward was responsible for every point his team scored. Shoutout to long snapper Louis-Philippe Bourassa, Ward’s success is a testament to his skill.

8) Speaking of special teams, Ottawa’s other kicker also had himself a night. Punter Richie Leone smashed six punts for 267 yards, averaging a net field position flip of 41 yards. A big part of that is great down field coverage, which is reflected by the fact that the longest Ticat punt return of the game was nine yards. 

9) Local Hamilton man takes in the game featuring his former team playing his home town team. 

Awesome moment for those lucky fans and a reminder that Russ Jackson is timeless, amazing and a legend to generations of CFL fans.

10) It wasn’t always pretty, but by earning the win, the Redblacks improve their record to 4-2 and create some separation from the rest of the East. Ottawa is now 2-0 vs Eastern opponents and 2-0 vs Western teams not named Calgary. Given how tough their opening six weeks looked on paper, Rick Campbell’s squad has gotten off to a respectable start. Up next is a Thursday night date at BMO Field against a struggling Argo team. A trip to Toronto to face a leaky defence could be exactly what Ottawa’s offence needs to right the ship. Either way, it’ll be all hands on deck as the Redblacks look to steal another two points from a divisional foe.

Santino Filoso

Santino Filoso

Born and raised in the 613, Santino has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know.)
Santino Filoso
Santino Filoso
About Santino Filoso (225 Articles)
Born and raised in the 613, Santino has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know.)

7 Comments on Ward’s streak boots Redblacks to victory (& 10 other thoughts)

  1. Bill deHoog // July 29, 2018 at 3:53 pm //

    Good comments. I think we are a little rough on Trevor though. Play calling is really predictable. Give Trevor a chance with some better variety. I haven’t seen any pitches to Donte or William. Greg E seems a little off lately. Two drops in the red zone were crucial.Not playing Noel Thomas or was he dropped for this game? Defensive pressure was better this game, just need to clamp down on loose coverage at times. Overall great job, we have learned to win those close ones this year. My prediction at beginning os season was for 12 wins…we are on pace. Argos cannot be taking lightly this week, they are switching qbs this week

  2. RussJack12 // July 29, 2018 at 4:03 pm //

    The play-calling definitely needs improvement, and Harris seems to be lacking some confidence. Hopefully these last 2 wins will help that. Defence is much improved from last season and Ward is a real pistol (shades of Gerry Organ).

  3. Great defensive effort and Leone and Ward are money. Regarding the offence, when your tailback is getting hit and/or tackled behind the Line of scrimmage on numerous occasions, either the opposition knows what your going to do or your O line just isn’t good enough. Pick either or both. As for our receivers, Greg Ellingson must be injured or something else is up. We saw a week ago on the game winning drive how he is able to elevate his game to incredible heights. However, he seems to be struggling to get open, has way too many drops and isn’t winning those contested jump balls like he has in previous seasons. Hopefully, he can find his mojo soon. And while Dionte seems to have recaptured his potential in the return game, he doesn’t seem able to get open for deep balls either. Bad news for the RBs if these two guys continue to struggle. All this said, it’s nice to see the boys able to win those close games. As for Toronto next, I fear they will take them lightly in particular knowing TO is going to their backup. All one has to do is think back a couple seasons when the RBs went in to Toronto knowing the Argos were starting Mitchell Gale that week. Guess what happened? Beware the cornered dog!

  4. JohnnyO // July 29, 2018 at 5:35 pm //

    Still waiting for Harris to show he can step it up for the big games; his throwing accuracy beyond 15 yds is porous, although right now it seems Sinopoli is the onpy reciever with the sure hands. Spencer was virtually invisible until the 4th quarter. Team winning thanks to its defense.

  5. Evil Empire // July 30, 2018 at 1:29 am //

    Ward was MONEY.

    As a fan I always felt better knowing our kicker was just going to make the kick when we absolutely needed it. Like Sean Fleming down the stretch, and through the playoffs in ‘05.

    It was cool seeing Ward make all those kicks. You’d much rather have your kicker making PATs. But, not missing FGAs, is what alot of games can end up coming down to. One missed FGA in the first quarter, can be the difference between winning and losing when the clock hits 00:00 in the 4th quarter.

    7/7 in that game, and 20/21 on the season. Ward’s going to have a great career if he keeps that up.

    The last two games have come right down to the wire for Ott. But, they won, and that’s all that matters. As fans we’d probably all like a little more breathing room in the 4th quarter. But, as long as our team wins. When, and how the winning points get put on the board really don’t matter so much.

  6. George Fogarty // July 30, 2018 at 4:32 am //

    A win is a win. RBs need to improve offensively, they have the weapons but not the OC. Time for Campbell to take over from Jamie and start calling the OC plays. Defence is not the issue this year, OC is and Harris needs to get more confident and start going short more.

  7. The “so called” Offensive coordinator has certainly been offensive for the last while He should have been let go before this season So fire him now and let Harris call his own plays which can’t be any worse. T

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