Redblacks chop Riders back down to reality


Trevor Harris and William Powell showed again that they aren’t intimidated by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Twice this season they have faced one of the CFL’s most dominant defensive units and twice they made that group look rather mediocre.

The duo led the way as the Ottawa Redblacks snapped the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ four-game winning streak with a 30-25 victory Saturday night.

The Redblacks (7-5) assumed sole possession of first place in the CFL’s East Division. The Riders slipped to 7-5.

“It is a big win. I never take winning for granted,” said Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell. “It’s big to win, especially in a tough place with a tough crowd here in Regina.”

Harris threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns and Powell rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns to carry Ottawa to victory. In their Week 2 win over the Riders, Harris aired it out for 345 yards and a pair of major scores, while Powell gained 94 yards along the ground and one touchdown.

“Whenever we’re clicking on all cylinders like that I feel no one can compete with us,” Powell said. “Trevor told us he was going to do his thing and the O-line did their thing and opened some lanes for me and we were able to capitalize on that.”

It was Powell’s 69-yard burst for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that gave the Redblacks a 30-18 lead that essentially put the game out of reach.

A late score from the Riders, a 34-yard touchdown catch from Naaman Roosevelt, brought the Riders within reach with less than three minutes to go. But that was as close as they would get.

“It’s big for us to utilize Willy P every week because, in my opinion, he’s the best running back in the league,” Harris said. “When we give him carries it’s just a matter of time before he busts one.”

Sam Eguavoen, Saskatchewan’s outside linebacker, agreed.

“Their O-line, they block well for (Powell),” he said. “It’s really hard to find a hole and get into the backfield. It’s almost like you’re playing back on your heels when they’re running the ball.”

“We’re not good enough to just walk on the field and win games,” added Riders safety Mike Edem. “We actually have to go out there and put in the work and do our due diligence and make sure we come out with the W.”

Saskatchewan’s defence registered five interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns last week in their win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Riders defence has scored eight touchdowns this season, a franchise record, but they failed to record a sack or a pick on Saturday against Ottawa.

“We can’t turn the ball over against that defence,” Powell said. “Their defence thrives on getting turnovers and getting points on those turnovers. As long as we take care of the ball we feel like we can move the ball on them.”

Marcus Thigpen took the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to give the Riders an early 7-0 lead.

But the Redblacks responded with three touchdowns, with the third coming on a 109-yard drive to close the first half. Diontae Spencer caught a four-yard pass from Harris to cap that drive that gave Ottawa a 20-10 lead going into halftime.

Harris also connected with R.J. Harris for a 49-yard touchdown in the first half. Powell’s first touchdown run of the game was a 19-yard run in the first quarter.

The Riders cut into Ottawa’s lead early in the third quarter when Kyran Moore returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown, Saskatchewan’s second of the day on special teams.

After Ottawa conceded a safety, the Riders trailed 20-18 heading into the fourth quarter.

Spencer led all receivers with eight catches for 110 yards. Brad Sinopoli caught five passes for 62 yards.

Zach Collaros struggled for Saskatchewan. The quarterback completed 10-of-27 pass attempts for 162 yards. He was intercepted twice. Roosevelt led Saskatchewan with 47 yards receiving. Tre Mason rushed for 68 yards.

Both teams are back in action on Saturday. Ottawa will host the Edmonton Eskimos, while the Riders will visit the Toronto Argonauts.

“It’s going to be trouble for the next team we play,” Eguavoen said. “The way we’re going to come out next week, I wouldn’t want to play our defence.”


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