Redblacks Grind Out Win

On a blistery day in Hamilton, on the back of a ferocious defensive effort, the Ottawa Redblacks hung on to beat the Ticats 12-6 and ensured that R-Nation will get a chance to see playoff football at TD Place.


– Hamilton becomes the most recent city to experience an R-Nation invasion

– Two former Ticats return to the Hammer

– Shortly before kick off, Henry Burris ends a week of speculation and announces he’ll play

– Redblacks win the toss and defer but wind up receiving when the Ticats chose to take the wind

1st Quarter:

– Showing no rust despite not practicing all week, Henry Burris (#1) leads Ottawa down the field on an 8 play drive, hitting Chris Williams (#80), Jamill Smith (#84), Brad Sinopoli (#88) and Ernest Jackson (#9) for gains of 14, 25, 5 and 18 yards. Following an incompletion and a pass to Williams that turns into a loss of 4 yards, the Redblacks get on the board when Chris “Money” Milo’s 35 yard FG splits the uprights.

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– Hamilton moves the chains once before Shawn Lemon (#52) sacks Jeff Mathews and forces a fumble that Moton Hopkins (#95) recovers.


– Starting on Hamilton’s 41 yard line, a 16 yard catch by Greg Ellingson (#82) and a 15 yard catch from Williams eventually lead to a 16 yard Milo FG.

– The Ticats go two and out

– The Redblacks go two and out but a roughing the kicker flag keeps the drive alive. Ronnie Pfeffer (#15) is shaken up on the play as his planting foot (his left ankle) gets rolled up on. Given a fresh set of downs, a 4 yard catch by Williams and a Ticat offsides flag set up a 2nd and 1. Behind a strong push from his offensive line, Burris tumbles ahead for a gain of 2 yards. After Maurice Price (#7) makes 9 yard catch, Burris sneaks for 3 yards to move the chains. Following a 5 yard William Powell (#29) run, a 9 yard catch from Ellingson and a drop by Jackson, Burris is hit low in the left knee while rolling out by LB Simoni Lawrence. Milo’s 24 yard FG makes it 9-0.

2nd Quarter:

– The Ticats drive down the field and finally get on the board with a 45 yard FG.

– Sandwiched between 11 yard catches by Patrick Lavoie (#81) and Jackson, Powell picks up 4 on the ground. On the next play, Burris is sacked when a blitzing Craig Butler flies in untouched and drags Burris down for a 10 yard loss. Milo’s first punt of the game takes three tries to get off, as flags continually force rekicks.

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– Aided by a challenge flag that turns into a DPI call on the Redblacks, Hamilton goes on an 11 play, 49 yard drive that ends with an 18 yard FG.

– Backed up by a holding call on Nolan MacMillan (#66), 6 and 10 yard catches by Williams and Price fail to move the sticks. Milo’s punt is returned 20 yards by Brandon Banks.

– The Ticats go two and out but Medlock’s 56 yard punt pins Ottawa at their own 1 yard line.

– The Redblacks get some breathing room when Jackson makes a 7 yard snag and Powell rushes for 4. Following back to back Powell runs for gains of 6, Burris kneels twice to end the half.

– After 30 minutes:



3rd Quarter:

– Hamilton receives but Justin Capicciotti’s 12th sack of the season leads to another two and out.

– On 1st down Powell picks up 4 but following an incompletion, Milo comes out to punt.

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– Mathews leads the Ticats on an 11 play drive but Hamilton comes away with no points as Abdul Kanneh (#14) makes a juggling end zone interception to take the ball away and end the scoring threat.

– The Redblacks go two and out.

– The Ticats go two and out.

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– Ottawa moves the chains a few times thanks to a roughing the passer call and a 13 yard run by Powell. On 2nd and 6 Burris’ pass falls incomplete and the Redblacks are forced to punt when HC Rick Campbell’s challenge for DPI fails. Milo’s 15 yard punt into the wind is negated by a 15 yard no yards flag, so the Ticats take over on their 51 yard line.

– A flying Jonathan Williams (#75) sacks Mathews for a 9 yard loss before John Boyett (#31) knocks down Mathews’ 2nd down pass.

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– The third quarter comes to a close as Powell rushes for a gain of 14 yards.

4th Quarter:

– Jackson makes a 12 yard catch but two plays later the Redblacks have to punt.

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– After picking up 9 yards with a 1st down run, the Ticats are forced to punt when Antoine Pruneau (#6) bursts through the line and blows up the running play deep in the backfield for a loss of 3 yards.

– A 19 yard catch by Jackson leads to a 30 yard Milo FG.

– Kanneh forces a fumble but officials rule that the last person to touch the ball before it bounced out of bounds was the Ticats’ Terrell Sinkfield. The Redblacks still wind up with the ball as two plays later Boyett cuts in front of Mathews’ pass and returns it 41 yards to Ottawa’s 45 yard line.

– Facing 2nd and long, Burris gives the ball right back when he is picked off. The Ticats return the pick to the house but the score is called back by due to an unnecessary roughness flag.

– With 5:10 left in the game, Brandon Banks takes a pass tipped by Lemon for a short gain before being tackled hard by Kanneh and fumbling. During the review, the Command Centre somehow determines that Kanneh’s hit was unnecessary roughness, despite clearly not being a face mask or horse collar tackle, therefore gifting the Ticats with 15 free yards and wiping out the turnover.

– Back to back sacks by David Hinds (#21) and Hopkins set up a 3rd and 21, forcing the Ticats to punt.

– On 2nd and long, the Redblacks appear to move the sticks when Price makes a 12 yard catch, but the play is called back when SirVicent Rogers (#55) is flagged for holding. On 2nd and 20, Powell busts up the gut for a gain of 24 to keep the drive alive and the clock moving. While Powell takes a breather, Kienan LaFrance (#37) picks 4 yards but after an incompletion, Ottawa is forced to punt. Milo’s 56 yard coffin corner punt bounces out of bounds at the Ticat 1 yard line.

– Following an illegal contact flag on Kanneh, Lemon forces a fumble and sacks Mathews; the Ticats lose 8 but maintain possession. Two plays later, Hinds is flagged for roughing the passer and Mathews is shaken up on the play. Jacory Harris enters at QB for the Ticats and manages to move the offence down to Ottawa’s 23 yard line before time expires.

Final score:


Key stats:

Burris completed 17/34 passes for 187 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT

Powell carried the ball 15 times for 87 yards

Jackson hauled in 5 passes for 67 yards

Hinds made 7 tackles and 1 sack

Milo was 4/4 on FGs and punted 7 times for 234 yards

Closing thoughts:

For the first time since 1983, playoff football is coming to Lansdowne Park. While it might not have always been pretty, the Redblacks 12-6 win was gusty and a total team effort. Offensively, it started up front, with MOP favourite Henry Burris starting and playing the entire game despite not taking a single rep in practice all week. Burris deserves major credit for battling through the wind and Simoni Lawrence’s low (and unnecessary) hit. Numbers wise, it wasn’t Burris’ best day, but he still managed to hit 7 different receivers and score enough points to win.

The entire offensive line deserves major credit for keeping Burris upright for the majority of the night, surrendering a single sack on 34 drop backs. Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) and company were also spectacular in short yardage, picking up gains of 2-3 yards every time it was 2nd and 1.

As for the running game, Powell continued to shine, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and showing off the burst and aggression R-Nation has come to expect from him. Powell saved his best run for last, picking up 24 yards on 2nd and 20 to keep the drive alive with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game. Though it was only a single carry, it was nice to see 6th round pick Kienan LaFrance get into the game late in the 4th quarter.

By picking up 67 yards, Ernest Jackson become the 3rd Redblack this season to hit the 1000 yard receiving mark. It’s the first time in Ottawa’s CFL history that three receivers have hit the mark in a single season. Interestingly, Greg Ellingson can become the 4th with a strong game next week, as he currently sits 81 yards short. Chris Williams had a decent game in his return to Hamilton, but his numbers (6 catches for 42 yards) would’ve been much more impressive if not for a number of drops.

Defensively, the Redblacks simply dominated the CFL’s top scoring offence. Led by a tremendous effort from Shawn Lemon, who had his best game in an Ottawa uniform to date, the Redblacks tallied six sacks, two red zone interceptions and forced three fumbles, recovering one. As well as the defensive line played, Ottawa’s linebackers, Hinds, Munoz and Pruneau, deserve major credit for flying all over the field, swarming to the ball and leading the team in tackles. John Boyett stepped into the secondary for the injured Jerrell Gavins and was lights out, notching a crucial interception and making four tackles. It’s more than fair to say that capital punishment has returned to the Nation’s Capital, as heading into the final week of the season the Redblacks led the CFL in sacks and interceptions.

In terms of special teams, Chris “Money” Milo was the man of the day. After Ronnie Pfeffer left the game with a serious looking injury, Milo stepped right in and didn’t miss a beat, hammering 7 punts into a strong wind for an average 33.4 yards per kick. Milo was also responsile for scoring all of Ottawa’s points. Despite being a liability for most of the season, the Redblacks cover teams did a stellar job containing the league’s most dangerous returner.

I’d be remiss not to mention the officiating as the zebras threw 16 flags for 250 yards. Weak calls were made and missed for both teams but the most glaring mistake was the unnecessary roughness flag on Kanneh that came about AFTER the Command Centre reviewed the fumble.

By winning the opening leg of the home and home vs the Ticats, the only thing left to be determined is if the Redblacks will host the East Final or Semi-Final. That’ll be settled next week in front of a rabid home crowd at TD Place; if Ottawa loses by more than 5 points then Hamilton finishes 1st and Ottawa winds up 2nd, any other result leads to the Redblacks finishing 1st.


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).