Argonauts' Chad Owens makes catch of the year, securing season sweep of Redblacks

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Argonauts' Chad Owens makes catch of the year, securing season sweep of Redblacks
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Some déjà vu flashed through Chad Owens' mind before he made the last-minute one-handed touchdown catch that titled the scales in the East Division.

In real time, and in the thousands of viewings to come, it looked like the Toronto Argonauts slotback's circus catch in the end zone with 24 seconds left on Tuesday came on an overthrown ball from his quarterback, Trevor Harris. Actually, Owens was recovering from being yanked off-stride by Ottawa Redblacks safety Forrest Hightower as he caught up laid out fully for the 10-yard scoring grab. 

"He grabbed me because I beat him across his face, a little grab around the waist, try to slow me up," Owens explained following Toronto's 38-35 win at TD Place, which pulled the Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-5) even in the East with the Redblacks (8-6) a half-length back.  

"I just told myself to dig. Because there was a play earlier this year, a two-point convert against Hamilton, I believe. Same play, same route, same situation. And it was right over me, I missed it. I felt the exact same thing tonight. I told myself to dig, dig, dig and dig, and went for it.

"It just goes to show that if you practise something you improve at it and you're ready when the moment comes," added the veteran, who had six receptions for 74 yards. "That's what I told the guys, everything you do, that if you prepare like a champion, you can expect to make champion-like play ... I think [New York Giants star] Odell Beckham Jr. has really lit a fire for many receivers — if you practise something, you can make it happen, Every receiver must believe in his hands; it just so happened that I only needed one." 

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The grab capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive authored by Harris, who was 32-of-44 for 397 yards with five touchdowns (to five different Argonauts) and two interceptions, neither of which Ottawa converted into touichdowns. Toronto overcame three turnovers and costly penalties on the go-ahead Redblacks drive that was capped off by a three-yard Henry Burris-to-Ernest Jackson touchdown with 2:18 left.

"Getting a win against this Ottawa team is huge," Argos coach Scott Milanovich said. "That catch by Chad was unbelievable. I was watching it the whole way and thinking, 'there is no way he gets to that.' Just an amazing play by a great player. That's what you count on when the game is on the line."

The catch tied a bow on an at-times ugly game between the fast-frenemy teams. The Argonauts were flagged 20 times for 161 yards and Ottawa had 17 penalites for 123.

Of all the self-imposed wounds, the biggest was likely on the second play of the Argos' victory drive. Harris, gifted with a free play on second-and-10 since Redblacks defensive end Shawn Lemon was offside, held the ball an extra second looking in search of an opportunity downfield. Moton Hopkins sacked Harris but was called for facemasking. Following the ensuing 20-yard march-off and an 11-yard scramble into touch by Harris on the next play, Toronto was at the Ottawa 43 with 1:54 left. Even though Ottawa has one of the league's fiercest pass rushes, Toronto's pass protection held up in a high-leverage situation even while backup right tackle Matt Sewell was lined up across from Lemon after starter Chris Van Zeyl sustained a leg injury.

"That scramble was big," Milanovich said. "That got us to the point where we had enough time, and still had our timeout, so he didn't have to force it down the field. Our guys played with a lot of poise at the end. [Offensive tackle] Matt Sewell did a nice job filling in for Chris."

Harris began the game, which was moved for Rogers Centre due the Argos being bounced to make way for the Major League Baseball playoffs, connecting on his first five passes for a total of 119 yards and his first two TDs. He hit his last six by working underneath the coverage. Owens' catch came on a second-and-7.

"It's kind of funny, I just feel more relaxed then than I do in the first quarter," the 29-year-old Harris said. "I'm not sure why. I'm very relaxed. It's still about execution at all points of the game. Turnovers happen. They don't impact the next drive of the game."

"I put a lot of air under it, but it wasn't overthrown," Harris said of the Owens play. "I was actually surprised that it was close, because when I let it go I was, 'it's a touchdown and it travelled a little farther than I thought."

Tuesday's tilt was the first of four in 18 days for the Argos, who are not assured of having any of those games at Rogers Centre as long as the Blue Jays are still playing. Hamilton and Ottawa have a home-and-home on Nov. 1 and 7 that will also factor heavily into how the East shakes out. 

Toronto's 3-0 season sweep of Ottawa came by a combined 18 points. 

"[Getting the sweep doesn't feel] as great as it feels to be tied for first," Owens said. "Ottawa's a great team that will be there in the end.

"We might have to face them again. It just feels good that we have their number."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @naitSAYger.

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