Reblacks should have ‘dominated for four quarters’ and ‘blown’ Argos up

Neil Davidson, Canadian Press

After blowing a 24-point lead in a wild 42-41 last-second loss to the Toronto Argonauts, the Ottawa Redblacks tried to make sense of what just happened.

For quarterback Trevor Harris, the pain didn’t end with the final whistle Thursday although he said the Ottawa team backbone is strong enough to withstand the result.

“It’s going to bother us for a day or so,” said Harris. “And if it doesn’t, then shame on you. This stings, (it’s) a punch in the gut, right. But it’s not going to define our team and it’s not going to spill over in the next few days.

“But we’ve got to let it hurt, because it does.”

Ottawa (4-3-0) led 28-7 at the half, reeling off 20 unanswered points in the second quarter. But Toronto (2-5-0) outscored the Redblacks 35-13 in the second half, with 22 of those points coming in the final quarter.

In the first half, Argo drives ended in punt, interception, punt, TD, punt, punt, turnover on downs, fumble and a drive that ended with time running out. Add to that a fumble on a punt return that led to an Ottawa TD.

Harris completed 18-of-21 passes for 245 yards and two TDs in a first half that looked like Ottawa was going to have an early night.

But the worm turned in the second half, despite Ottawa holding a 38-14 lead in the third. The Toronto drive chart read TD, punt, TD, TD, FG, TD, TD and TD as quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, in his first CFL start, got on a roll.

“It’s just tough,” repeated Ottawa wide receiver Diontae Spencer, who hauled in eight passes for 145 yards and had 104 more yards on punt returns.

“We played a good game, we just couldn’t finish it at the end,” added Spencer, who like Harris is a former Argo. “I don’t think this is going to affect us in the long run. If anything, we know we should have come out here and dominated for four quarters and blown this team up. To be serious, we should have blown this team up. It shouldn’t even have been close.

“But as a team we’ve got to learn when things get tough, just hold our head (up) and just keep moving forward. But we’ll be fine.”

Coach Rick Campbell, his jaw clenched tight, offered no excuses for a game that got away.

“Credit them. They made plays to win the game,” he said. “I never view it, and our team never views it that we had the game in the bag. It’s the CFL and a lot of stuff happens. That’s why people like this league.

“They made more plays than us to win the game at the end. Both teams had opportunities to make plays to win it. They made more plays than we did. ”

For the neutrals, it was CFL excitement at its best. The two teams combined for 851 yards net offence. There were six turnovers. And special teams were thrilling all night long for the small announced crowd of 11,857 at BMO Field.

Toronto has now won eight of 11 meetings against Ottawa dating back to 2014, with nine of those games decided in the final three minutes.

Campbell said the loss would be instructive, reminding reporters that his team had been the one celebrating in previous games.

“I’m way more interested in people, how they react when you’re facing adversity and you’re losing. You learn way more about people than when you win. It’s easy to be on a winning team and having people patting you on the back.

“I like these guys. Our guys have a good spirit about them. This one will hurt. But then we’re going to reload and we’re back to another East Division team next week in Montreal. We keep going on this journey.”

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13 Comments on Reblacks should have ‘dominated for four quarters’ and ‘blown’ Argos up

  1. I bet all seven thousand,six hundred and forty four Argo Fans who bothered to attend to watch the defending Champs enjoyed the big comeback!

    • I’m confused. I thought the *announced* attendance was 24,232.

      And by the end of the third quarter, there were about 2,000 fans – many in red and black – left.

      • I am an Ottawa fan and we went to Toronto for the game.
        Yes it did look smaller than 10k. We left after the 3rd because we had a long drive, lots of Argo fans left early too.

        • MLSE is not going to put up with the tiny crowds for much longer. It’s sad that people in Toronto just don’t care about the Argos.
          They talk about a “long term” plan to get fans back, but the reality is that there are jut not enough CFL fans in Toronto and they will never be able to average more than 16k

  2. Evil Empire // August 4, 2018 at 6:04 pm //

    I’ve said it before. I think Campbell is too conservative.

    I don’t know how you give up a 24 point lead. But, it’s certainly not unheard of in the CFL. And, Trestman opting for a FGA with 6 mins left, and down by 15. And, he actually got away with it because Ott imploded. Ottawa’s ST unit blew it. And, their defence sucked at the end, as well. The Argos needed that win way more than Ott. And, played like it down the stretch. Ott expected them to fold, but they didn’t. Keep the pedal to the metal for 60:00, or pay the price.

    Ott has Mtl at home next. So, they should be able to bounce back.

  3. White Horse // August 4, 2018 at 6:09 pm //

    I thought MB Thompson really settled into a good rythum. He was a little rusty/panicky for awhile to begin with but focused and showed determination like the pro that he is. Hopefully he plays the same next game. Wilder also got his act together and pounded the line of scrimmage with fervour. This is a Trestman style football team performance. History repeats itself. I wish fans in the ‘big smoke’ cared enough to even think about this good team.

  4. Alright everyone. I’m getting ready to head off to historic McMahon stadium.
    If you’re going tonight, you will get wet!

  5. People are still talking about this game? I thought 3DN was All Johnny, All the Time.

  6. bill dehoog // August 4, 2018 at 6:43 pm //

    Comments are valid. Big problem was that Ottawa played a soft zone in the second half and it backfired.
    One other thing not mentioned were those 2 non penalties that were called on Ottawa that should not of been called (PI on Rose-Receiver ran into defender, and rough play on Williams when he clearly hit the receiver at shoulder height-helmet fell off and referee thought it was a head shot) Wasn’t Al’s best game as referee. Attendance was 11,000 with about 2000 Redblack fans present. Should be a different story when Montreal comes to town

  7. As well as Trevor played in the first half, he showed no killer instinct to bury the Argos. You could almost see him tense up as Toronto began its comeback. Not convinced he can take the team to glory.

    • Bomber Fan Since 8 // August 6, 2018 at 5:47 am //

      I’ve seen this same tendency in Harris. Start fast. Fade. He’s got elite QB talent. Elite QB mind set… not so sure.

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