Diontae Spencer did his best to keep the Ottawa Redblacks within striking distance of the Calgary Stampeders on Thursday night.
Despite Spencer’s two-touchdown performance and three catches for 107 yards, the Redblacks wound up on the losing end of a 43-39 decision to the Stampeders in front of 24,613 fans at McMahon Stadium.
He had 351 total yards against Calgary between offence and special teams.
“You want to make plays,” said Spencer, who hauled in a 65-yard touchdown pass from Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris at 12:32 of the fourth quarter to pull the Redblacks within four points. “You want to go out there and each and every series you want to score touchdowns.”
Although kicker Brett Maher missed the convert and the Stamps subsequently ran out the clock, Spencer said he’s confident that the Redblacks can build on the positives heading into their next game back in Ottawa against the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday, July 8.
“It’s still early in the season,” said Spencer, who also returned a punt 96 yards for another touchdown late in the first quarter against Calgary.
“We’re still putting the pieces together. With this group of guys we have in the locker room, once we limit the penalties and limit the mistakes, it’s going to be a tremendous ride.
“It’s a journey. We’re just soaking it up. It’s tough to take a loss, but at the end of the day we’re going to learn from our mistakes and come back next week and get the job done.”
When Ottawa signed Spencer as a free agent in the off-season, Harris knew that his former teammate on the Argos could make an immediate impact with the Redblacks.
“I expect that out of Spence,” said Harris in regards to Spencer’s two-TD outing. “That’s why we brought him in. That’s why I was pulling for our organization to bring him in, because he’s that kind of guy.”
Ottawa coach Rick Campbell said Spencer will continue to play a big part on both special teams and offence for the Redblacks moving forward.
“He has tremendous speed, creates issues for the other teams,” said Campbell. “We need to make sure we’re utilizing him anyway we can, whether it’s the return game or on offence.”
Campbell was also impressed that Harris continued to fight hard against the Stamps despite being sacked four times.
“I thought he did a lot of good things and battled the whole night for us,” said Campbell. “We have a lot of guys like that, that are willing to fight and claw and battle their way through. If we can erase the bad football part of it then we’ll have a better shot at it.”
Although he completed 27-of-35 passes for 425 yards and two touchdowns, Harris was upset that he wasn’t able to lead the Redblacks to victory over the Stamps, who battled back from a 14-point deficit in Ottawa last Friday to force a 31-31 tie.
“There’s a lot of things we need to shore up,” said Harris. “There’s nobody to blame this game but ourselves. We need to make sure that respond in a positive way and come out fighting and continue to get better.”