OTTAWA – The REDBLACKS flipped the script.
After leading through much of the game and suffering a heartbreaking last-second loss to the Argonauts in Week 8, Trevor Harris and Ottawa REDBLACKS paid it forward to the Alouettes on Saturday, sealing their 24-17 victory in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Trevor Harris finished one completion shy of tying Henry Burris‘ CFL record with 44 completions and just under 500 passing yards, while five Ottawa pass-catchers recorded at least 70 receiving yards in the victory.
The REDBLACKS came out swinging to start as Harris looked clinical, completing his first six pass attempts and marching his team down the field into the Alouettes red zone. Unfortunately for Harris and Ottawa, his final completion to fullback JC Beaulieau was stripped and recovered by LB Chip Cox, ending a dangerous REDBLACKS drive.
Manziel and the Alouettes recorded a punt single to take the lead on their ensuing drive.
A fumble would again end the next REDBLACKS drive early; this time it was the sure-handed Brad Sinopoli who couldn’t hold on after the reception.
REDBLACKS Receiver R.J. Harris fights off a tackle during Saturday night’s game against the Alouettes
The Alouettes wouldn’t hold possession for long. Though Manziel was able to string together three straight completions, again a receiver was unable to hold onto the ball after the catch as Adarius Bowman was stripped and the REDBLACKS recovered.
After an ill-advised decision to return a deep punt rather than conceding a single, Manziel and the Alouettes stared down a very long field, starting the drive at their four-yard line. Manziel looked cool and collected when he looked deep on first and second down with on-the-money tosses to BJ Cunningham. But the receiver couldn’t pull in either pass, and the Alouettes were forced to concede the safety.
A rough half of turnovers continued on the REDBLACKS ensuing drive. This time it was a tipped pass which was snatched out of the air by DB Chris Ackie, who never looked back as he sprinted 37 yards for the game’s first major and an 8-2 Alouettes lead.
REDBLACKS kicker Lewis Ward continued his remarkable rookie season, cutting into the Montreal lead with his 20th consecutive field goal.
Montreal kicker Boris Bede would add another single for the Alouettes on a missed field goal late in the second quarter.
Looking to strike before the half, Harris and the REDBLACKS found themselves staring down third and short inside the Alouettes 10-yard line with 12 seconds left in the half. Rather than sneaking for the first down and potentially attempting another play or the field goal, quarterback Dominique Davis ran a naked bootleg on a fake sneak, but just missed his target in the end zone.
Manziel kneeled out the clock and the Alouettes headed to halftime up 9-5.
The REDBLACKS offence came out firing to start the second half, with Harris continuing to rack up passing yards, eclipsing 300 for the game on the drive. After methodically picking his way through the Als defence, Harris found his namesake, R.J. Harris, for the rookie receiver’s first CFL touchdown on a nifty sideline catch. The two-point convert was unsuccessful.
A decent return from William Stanback on the kickoff gave the Alouettes the ball on their own 35, and Manziel got to work. The former Heisman Trophy winner took to the ground on the drive, scrambling twice for a combined 18 yards before finding Ernest Jackson for another first down. Manziel was mere centimetres away from recording his first CFL touchdown just seconds later, again using his rushing ability on a 17-yard scramble before getting hammered at the goalline and fumbling the ball. Luckily for Manziel and the Alouettes, the loose ball was recovered by C Kristian Matte and carried over the goal line for the touchdown, re-establishing the lead for Montreal.
Ward kicked through a field goal to cut the Alouettes lead to three midway through the final frame.
After a quick defensive stop, the REDBLACKS offence took over, and Harris continued to pile up the yardage. It looked as if R.J. Harris would record his second career touchdown late in the drive, but the ball was thrown just behind him and Ottawa would settle for a game-tying field goal from Ward, who surpassed Luca Congi for the most consecutive field goals by a CFL rookie with 22.
After forcing the fifth straight Montreal two and out, Harris again led his team down the field with ease, finding Diontae Spencer for a big gain before two short completions to Greg Ellingson. The REDBLACKS finished the drive with four consecutive handoffs to RB William Powell, who ground away at the Alouettes defence before rounding the corner on his final carry and plunging into the end zone for the touchdown that sealed the victory for Ottawa.
Following the victory, the REDBLACKS will head west in Week 10 to face Matt Nichols and the surging Blue Bombers in Winnipeg. The Alouettes will also head to the West Division, where things won’t get any easier as they square off against Mike Reilly and the Edmonton Eskimos.