The Ottawa Redblacks finally earned a victory. Now they want to build off of it.
Ottawa ended a four-game winless streak with a 24-19 win over the Montreal Alouettes (2-3) Wednesday night at TD Place.
As usual, the Redblacks (1-3-1) didn’t make things easy on themselves as they allowed the Alouettes to attempt a comeback in the second half, but unlike previous games were able to hold on to the lead to pick up their first win of the season.
Trevor Harris was 29-of-41 passing for 376 yards with two TD’s, while Montreal’s Darian Durant was 35 for 45 for 452 yards and two TD’s and two interceptions.
“It’s good, but we’ve got to keep it in perspective, it’s one win,” said Harris.
“I really think this is a win that can kind of catapult a team as we found a way to win late as opposed to finding a way to lose.”
The play of the game came with just over one minute left when the Ottawa defence held off the Alouettes on third-and-one attempt at Ottawa’s eight-yard line, sending the sellout crowd of 24,756 into a frenzy.
“That was a huge play,” said Redblacks DB Antoine Pruneau. “I knew when we were on the field that our guys wanted it more and every single guy pushed hard and won their individual battle and we got the job done.”
All week Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell’s message had been about finding ways to make big plays, force the other team to make more mistakes and Wednesday the Redblacks were able to take advantage with fumble recoveries and interceptions. Montreal had four turnovers in the first half alone.
“That was the difference,” said Campbell. “Our defence has been solid in long stretches, but was lacking that momentum changing play and (Wednesday) I would guess we had five turnovers, off the top of my head, and when you do that it’s a big lift for the football team so I credit our guys for making those big plays.”
Looking to close a 24-18 gap Boris Bede attempted a 50-yard field goal, but settled for a single after kicking the ball out of bounds.
Trailing 17-3 the Alouettes pushed back hard in the third quarter.
Durant connected with Tiquan Underwood for a 51-yard touchdown pass and Nic Lewis for a four-yard TD, but Ottawa replied with a touchdown of its own as Brad Sinopoli took in a short pass to lead 24-18 heading into the fourth quarter.
With 14:12 left in the third quarter, Lewis got his name in the record books as he became just the fourth player in the league to record his 1,000th reception on a nine-yard gain.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be able to reach that milestone and just still be here 14 years later,” said Lewis. “I was talking to some of their players on the field and they’re like 22 and 23 and I’ve been playing for 25 years so it’s good to be able to still be here. It’s a blessing from God to still be able to do it.”
The Redblacks were able to cap off a solid first half with an 18-yard field goal by Brett Maher in the final minute to take a 17-3 lead into the break.
Slow starts have been an issue for the Alouettes and this night was no different.
“We took points off the board with those (first-half) turnovers,” said Durant. “When you get a chance to score touchdowns you have to do that and we didn’t do it in the first half. We turned the ball over.”
Pruneau came up with a huge play in the second quarter with an interception in the end zone. Illegal contact on the receiver was initially called, but Ottawa challenged and the call was overturned. On the ensuing play Harris connected with Greg Ellingson for an 80-yard touchdown to take a 14-3 lead.
The Redblacks jumped out to a 6-0 lead on 20- and 38-yard field goals by Maher early in the first quarter. Montreal cut the lead in half with a 42-yard field goal to make it 6-3 after the first quarter.