Harris’ 5 TD Passes Sink the Redblacks

Just like the old adage goes, any port in a storm, right? Displaced by the havoc the Blue Jays’ playoff run has created, in this storm, the Argos’ port just so happened to be TD Place in Ottawa. With 1st place on the line, the Argos took on the Redblacks in a “home” game, weathering the vocal squall discharged by the 15,011 rabid members of R-Nation present and pulling out a late 38-35 win.


– It might have been a Tuesday but that game day feeling around the city was as strong as ever


– Someone get this man season tickets!

– Tuesday = Tailgate day

– Nothing says chilly fall nights like spandex

– TD Place game day staff troll the Argos as they take the field, blaring “Okay Blue Jays” over the stadium speakers

– Ottawa wins the coin toss and elects to receive

1st Quarter:

– The Argo kick off is fielded by William Powell (#29) who jukes his way to the 53 yard line.

– Henry Burris (#1) picks up where he left off last week, leading the offence on a 6 play, 57 yard TD drive that features runs from Jeremiah Johnson (#27) and catches by Chris Williams (#80), Ernest Jackson (#9) and Johnson. Following Johnson’s TD plunge, Chris Milo (#30) nails the convert and with the game just 1:55 old, Ottawa leads 7-0.

– Kevin Elliot hauls in a short pass from Argos QB Trevor Harris and proceeds to dance around Jovon Johnson (#2) for a 56 yard gain. Elliot is finally tackled by Damaso Munoz (#45) who gets flagged for a horse collar. Two plays later, Elliot beats Johnson again, this time for a 6 yard TD pass.

– Powell returns the kick off to Ottawa’s 42 yard line

– Johnson busts up the gut for a gain of 11 but two plays later, Williams drops a deep bomb and the Redblacks are forced to punt.


– The Redblacks collapse the pocket but Harris scrambles out of trouble and completes pass after pass as the Argos march down the field. At one point Ottawa seems to have forced a punt, but Brandyn Thompson (#25) is flagged for DPI and three plays later Jerrell Gavins (#24) gets beat for a 15 yard TD strike. Following the convert, Toronto leads 14-7.

– Powell returns the kick off to Ottawa’s 44 yard line

– Johnson rumbles for 17 yards before another deep pass intended for Williams is picked off. Toronto takes over on their 1 yard line.


– Gavins giveth and Gavins taketh; the small DB atones for getting beat earlier by making an acrobatic interception and giving Ottawa the ball on Toronto’s 15 yard line.

– Unfortunately, Burris and company can’t overcome a procedure flag on LG J’Micheal Deane (#64) and are forced to settle for a 20 yard Milo FG.

– Harris gets picked on consecutive drives when Abdul Kanneh (#14) completes the tip drill. On the INT return, DL Shawn Lemon (#52) drops a huge block, levelling an Argo.

– Ottawa again fails to turn the turnover into a TD and Milo boots a 21 yard FG to make it a 14-13 game.

2nd Quarter:

– A loud crowd forces an Argo WR offside and leads to a two and out

– Johnson continues to pick up great yardage on first down runs, plowing ahead for a gain of 10 yards. On the next play Burris gets sacked by Mike Reilly Killer Brandon Laing, but Lang gifts the Redblacks with 30 free yards by getting flagged for throwing Burris to the ground well after the whistle and then taking his helmet off to complain about the initial call. Two plays later, Brett Maher’s (#3) punt forces the Argos to start at their 25 yard line.

– On 2nd and long, Thompson knocks down Harris’ pass and forces a punt. During the return, a Redblack is pushed back into Williams who fumbles the ball. Thankfully, Jovon “Johnny on the Spot” Johnson scoops it up. Somehow the Argos escape being flagged for no yards, despite being well within the 5 yard mark.

– Johnson picks up 7 on the ground but on 2nd down Burris is swarmed and sacked. On the punt, Antoine Pruneau (#6) flies down the field and makes a great special teams tackle.

– Lemon sacks Harris and forces a fumble which Moton Hopkins (#95) recovers, but the turnover is wiped out by a holding call on Munoz. A few plays later the Argos tack on a FG to make it 17-13.

– Ottawa’s offensive line continues to open lanes for Johnson who rushes for a gain of 11 yards. Two plays later Johnson catches a screen pass but slips as he runs and goes down hard. Johnson is injured on the play and needs to be helped off the field. Channeling R-Nation’s fear of Johnson’s injury, Maher hammers the ball and his punt soars 58 yards.

– The Argos go two and out

– Powell enters the game at RB and quickly takes a short pass 19 yards. An 11 yard catch by Greg Ellingson (#82) leads to a 45 yard Milo FG as time expires.

– After 30 minutes



– TSN’s Chris Schultz calls Gavins Givens four times and nobody has the heart to correct him.

– The North/South Side competition features bubbles

3rd Quarter:

– The Argos get the ball to start things off and quickly go on a 6 play 76 yard TD drive to lead 24-16.

– Ottawa moves the sticks as Brad Sinopoli (#88) and Jackson make catches good for gains of 2 and 10 yards. On the next play, Burris looks deep for Maurice Price (#7) but he drops the ball when interfered with. The refs don’t throw a flag, so HC Rick Campbell decides to challenge the lack of call. Naturally the Command Centre rules no DPI. Following the review, Sinopoli gains 9 but when Burris tries to draw the Argos offsides on 3rd and 1, Deane moves early and gets flagged for procedure, leading to a punt. Brandon Sermons (#21) flies down the field and makes a fantastic special teams tackle.

Brad Sinopoli Brandon Isaac

– Sack, I mean Zack Evans’ (#92) 7th sack of the year forces an Argo punt

– A 14 yard Sinopoli catch leads to a 46 yard Milo FG that makes it a 24-19 game.

Brad Sinopoli Brandon Isaac

– Toronto goes two and out

– Mr. Shoe Beer does his best Blue Jay impression

– OC Jason Maas dials up Powell’s number on three straight plays and Powell responds by gaining 7, 9 and 1 yard on two runs and a screen. Burris’ 2nd down pass falls incomplete as he gets hit while throwing. Maher’s 42 yard punt is returned 29 yards.

– Vidal Hazelton goes across the middle and gets blown up by Forrest Hightower (#23) and fumbles. Kanneh jumps on the ball to secure the turnover.

– A Burris sack is negated by an illegal contact flag and on the ensuing play Burris hooks up with Ellingson in the end zone for a 32 yard TD. Following the convert, Ottawa leads 26-24

– The quarter comes to an end with Kanneh flying in on run support and making a thunderous tackle.


4th Quarter: 

– The defence forces a would be punt, but a hands to the face flag on Lemon extends the Argos drive. Two plays later the defence seemingly gets another stop, but the Argos challenge for DPI and following a 3 minute review, the Command Centre agrees with them and the zebras throw a flag. On first down Hightower layouts out to knock down a surefire touchdown pass. On second down Harris makes the penalties count, hitting Whitaker for a 4 yard TD strike. Adding insult to injury, Pruneau is shaken up on the play.

Forest Hightower Chad Owens

– A couple of big runs from Powell and a 24 yard catch and run from Williams help the Redblacks march into Argo territory. On 2nd and long, Deane gets destroyed by a bullrush and Burris gets sacked, leading to another Milo FG attempt. This time around, Milo’s 37 yard kick sails wide right.

– Backed up under the shadow of their own goal posts, the Argos go two and out and one time Redblacks kicker Anthony Alix trots out to concede a safety.

– Catches by Price and Lavoie fail to move the chains and the Redblacks go two and out.

– Heavy pressure from the defensive line forces two incompletions and the Argos go two and out.

– Ellingson picks up 10 through the air and Powell gets 6 on the ground. Sinopoli keeps the drive alive with a 9 yard catch and Powell runs for another 7 on the ground. On the next play Sinopoli takes a quick strike over the middle down to Toronto’s 3 yard line but the play is called back thanks to a holding call on Deane. The Argos shoot themselves in the foot by taking back to back facemask and objectionable conduct flags, moving the ball inside their 5 yard line. Jackson caps off the drive in style by taking a short pass and reversing the length of the field on a sweep for a TD to put Ottawa up 35-31 with 2:18 left.

– With R-Nation roaring, Lemon nearly sacks Harris and forces an incompletion. On the next play Lemon is flagged for offsides and Hopkins is flagged for facemasking, so the Argos get 20 yards for free. Harris strings together a few passes to march Toronto down the field but benefits from an incredibly bad spot. Kanneh tackles Elliot on Ottawa’s 16 yard line but inexplicable the ball is spotted on the 15 yard line, so instead of 3rd and 2 it’s 3rd and 1. The Argos convert and two plays later Chad Owens gets behind Hightower and makes a stunning one handed catch to put Toronto up 38-35.

– With 26 seconds and in desperation mode, Burris gets walloped from behind and crumbles to the ground, writhing in pain. Suddenly nobody in Ottawa cares about the score, too busy holding their breath and praying that Burris isn’t seriously hurt. Thomas DeMarco (#17) enters for one last Hail Mary but his pass falls incomplete. 

Final score:


Key Stats:

Burris completed 27 of 35 passes for 250 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT

Johnson had 7 carries for 55 yards and 1 TD

Powell hauled in 7 catches for 56 yards

Hinds made 8 tackles

Milo connected on 4/5 FGs

Closing thoughts:

Playing their 3rd game in 11 days (and 2nd against the Argos, who were both times coming off a bye), Ottawa’s effort tonight cannot be faulted. On a night when Argos QB Trevor Harris made his own MOP case, the Redblacks hung around for most of the night but ultimately were done in by flags (warranted or not) and their failure to turn turnovers into TDs instead of FGs.

Coming off his best performance of the season, Henry Burris put up very respectable numbers and completed 77% of his passes while hitting 8 different receivers. Due to porous offensive line protection, Burris was under siege every time he dropped back to pass and was often forced to quickly dump the ball off or take sacks. The Argos got to Burris 5 times but hit him every other play. Most worrying for R-Nation was the hit from behind Burris took on the next to last play of the game. After the game, Burris said he was fine and for the sake of Ottawa’s season, R-Nation better hope he’s right and that the doctors agree.

Unfortunately, Burris’ injury wasn’t the only significant blow, as Jeremiah Johnson was also forced out of the game in the 2nd quarter. Up until that point, Johnson had been having a fantastic game, averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Powell stepped in and didn’t miss a beat, flashing a good burst of speed and logging 7 carries for 49 yards. While Burris’ injury might not be serious, Johnson on the other hand, was using crutches as he watched the 2nd half from the sidelines. It’s worth mentioning that for all of their struggles in pass protection, the offensive line did a great job opening holes on the ground.

In terms of the receiver group, Greg Ellingson and Ernest Jackson led the way, both with 3 catches, 50+ yards and a touchdown. Brad Sinopoli continued to add to his league leading YAC total, making 5 catches for 35 yards. Both Chris Williams and Maurice Price had big, drive killing drops.

Defensively, while MLB David Hinds made the most tackles, Abdul Kanneh stole the show, making 4 thunderous hits, an interception and forcing and recovering a fumble. Though the defensive as a unit forced 3 turnovers and sacked the QB twice, too often Harris had time to go through his reads and shred the secondary. The Argos dropped back to pass 44 times for nearly 400 yards, probably because they had nothing whatsoever going in terms of a run game, picking up only 14 yards on 5 carries.

As far as special teams go, Milo had a solid night overall, making all of his converts and 80% of his FGs. The kick he missed was a  46 yarder late in the  4th quarter and the Redblacks did go on to lose by 3, so that kinda stings. Maher had probably his best game punting since returning to the team, averaging  46 yards per punt. Ottawa’s kick coverage did a great job hemming in Toronto’s returners and for the second straight week, Pruneau was a monster, making 3 special teams tackles. As for the Redblacks return game, on punts Williams continued to struggle, picking up a whopping 5 yards on 4 returns. On kick off returns, Powell looked fantastic, taking 6 returns back for 142 yards.

powell stats

Both teams were extremely sloppy and heavily flagged throughout the game. Ottawa finished with 17 flags for 123 yards and while fans can (and rightly should) argue that some where undeserved, the fact of the matter is that more than once, the defence forced a stop but an untimely flag kept an Argos drive alive and led to points against. Even worse than the calls against were the calls that weren’t made, as numerous times it seemed Toronto’s offensive line got away with blatant holds. Also, this game once again confirmed that outside of the Command Centre, nobody in the CFL really knows what is and what isn’t DPI. Lastly, the ball spot on the Argos final drive was just horrible, what should have been 3rd and a long 2 was somehow spotted as a 3rd and a short 1.

With the loss Ottawa’s record drops to 8-6 and puts them in a three way battle with the Argos and Ticats. By virtue of tiebreakers, the Redblacks currently sit 3rd in the East, despite owning identical records to Toronto and Hamilton. Now that they’ve completed a grueling 3 games in 11 days, Ottawa will have some time to rest up and heal; their next game being again at home, but not until Oct. 16th. OSEG deserves a ton of credit for setting up this game with less than 3 weeks notice, and the 15,000 members of R-Nation who showed up also deserve a hand for coming out and bringing the noise. It might have looked like an Argos home game, but to anyone listening, TD Place was its usual boisterous self.


Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).