Harris throws three TDs as Redblacks cruise to 28-18 win over Alouettes

The Ottawa Redblacks were quite convincing in their bid to rebound from a tough defeat.

Trevor Harris put the game out of reach with touchdown passes to J.C. Beaulieu, Brad Sinopoli and Noel Thomas in the first half and the Redblacks held on for a 28-18 victory over the offensively challenged Montreal Alouettes on Friday night.

The Redblacks (2-1) were coming off a loss last week against Calgary in which their offence struggled against the tough Stampeder defence.

“You’ve got to rebound whether you win or lose – you’ve got to keep moving forward,” said coach Rick Campbell. “This was a big win.

“There’s lots to learn and lots to get better at, but it’s a big thing to win on the road against your own division.”

Lewis Ward added a pair of field goals for the Redblacks, who dominated the statistics and controlled the ball even if they managed only three second-half points.

Harris completed 28 of 42 passes for 342 yards, consistently hitting targets on second downs to maintain possession. Wiliams Powell started slow, but eventually the running game took over as he gained 138 yards on 23 carries. Brad Sinopoli caught 11 passes for 148 yards.

“Particularly, those runs can be demoralizing for the defence,” said Campbell. “If you can get some big chunks on run plays in the CFL, it’s a huge thing.”

Tyrell Sutton scored the first rushing TD of the season and rookie Chris Harper caught his first career TD pass for the Alouettes (1-3), who beat Saskatchewan last week but have not won consecutive games since 2016. It marked the first time in four games the Alouettes scored more than one TD.

Jeff Mathews, making his first start for Montreal in place of the injured Drew Willy, completed 18 of 30 throws for 280 yards, including six to B.J. Cunningham for 68 yards.

“Considering the situation he was in, having (missed) pre-season and the first part of the season without a ton of reps, I thought (Mathews) handled himself admirably,” said coach Mike Sherman. “He made some nice throws.

“I was fairly pleased with him.”

Harris led a six-play drive from the opening kickoff capped by a 46-yard TD catch by Beaulieu, who the Alouettes traded to Ottawa in the off-season for fullback Patrick Lavoie. It was Beaulieu’s first receiving TD since June 25, 2015.

The Alouettes answered with a five-play drive that finished with a two-yard TD plunge by Sutton.

Montreal led 8-6 when Ottawa took over with a short field goal from Ward at 12:51 of the first quarter, a 37-yard TD pass to Sinopoli at 9:59 of the second and a nine-yard scoring pass to Thomas with six seconds left in the half.

Ottawa added a 31-yard Ward field goal to open the second half.

On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, Mathews found Eugene Lewis for 65 yards and then hit Harper in the end zone with a 14-yard toss at 2:22. Boris Bede added a 43-yard field goal at 5:55.

The Alouettes had hoped to even their record going into a bye week, but Sherman said much work needs to be done on a largely rebuilt squad that went 3-15 last season.

“We didn’t do that so we don’t have that advantage so when we come back from the bye we’ve got to address the issues and move in a positive direction,” said Sherman. “There were some good things.

“The offensive line performed at a better level than we have in the past. We spent the week talking about eliminating penalties and we cut that in half. You fix one thing and something else goes astray.”

It didn’t help that the Alouettes lost their top receiver Chris Williams to a hamstring strain in the first quarter. In the dying minutes, kick returner Stefan Logan also went down with a sprained ankle.

Announced attendance was 16,718.

– CP

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