Game #1; Redblacks come up just short

By: Santino Filoso

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After an eight year, eight month hiatus, Ottawa returned to the CFL on Thursday night in Winnipeg. Despite it being an away game, the buzz surrounding the team was incredible, with large groups of Redblacks fans meeting up at various local restaurants and bars such as Hometown Sports, The Senate and Real Sports Bar to watch the away game together. The Redblacks were looking to earn their first win in their franchise opening game over a resurgent Bombers team coming off a surprising Week One victory over the Argos.

Pre-Game:

– It’s said that eating well is a huge part of performing well and Jeff Hunt decided to take matters into his own hands by taking the entire team out for dinner in Winnipeg the night before the game. Gliebermans take note: that’s the kind of hands-on ownership that players don’t mind.

– The TSN pannel mentions that Winnipeg hasn’t won back to back games since 2011 and that the Redblacks as a team have more CFL experience than the Bombers

First Quarter:

– The Redblacks kick off to open the game and quickly force a two and out thanks to heavy pressure from their defensive line

– Following a Jamill Smith (#15) punt return, Burris hits Chevon Walker (#29) and Kierrie Johnson (#10) for gains of 29 and 26 yards respectively, before Walker punches it in from three yards out to give the Redblacks a quick lead

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Chevon Walker scores the 1st TD in franchise history

– The opening drive takes 5 plays and 2:17 seconds to go 62 yards

– On their next possession, Drew Willy gets sacked by Jonathon Williams (#75) and the Bombers go two and out again

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– The Redblacks take 2 plays and 58 seconds to go 43 yards and score again!

– Walker goes for a 17 yard run before Dobson Collins (#80) makes a 26 yard TD catch to give the Redblacks a 14-0 lead with 8:01 remaining in the quarter

– Bombers answer the Redblacks TD with one of their own when WR Nick Moore makes a 51 yard catch and RB Nick Grigsby gets into the end zone to cut the lead in half

– Redblacks continue to move the ball at will; Johnson, Marcus Henry (#16 or Henry² as we like to call him here at Defend the R) and Paris Jackson (#19) all make 1st down catches.

– Bombers blitz and despite the pocket collapsing, Burris somehow manages to salsa his way out of a sack and hit FB John Delahunt for a 15 yard gain

– Burris scrambles out of the pocket for a 17 yard gain and in doing so passes Russ Jackson for 4th place on the all time QB rushing list

– Redblacks first three possessions end with TDs as Walker makes an 8 yard catch and waltzes in for the score

– 21-7 for the Redblacks after one

Second Quarter:

– Teams trade two and outs and fans finally realize Ottawa dressed a punter

– Jerell Gavins (#24) struggles in his match up with Nick Moore, alternating between getting torched for big gains and being flagged for interference as the Bombers go 88 yards in 9 plays and score

– After catches by Matt Carter (#85) and Collins, Redblacks try to punt with backup QB Thomas DeMarco (#17) at punter, but instead are flagged. On the ensuing play regular kicker Brett Maher (#3) shanks the punt giving the Bombers great field position

– Brandon Lang (#91) sacks Willy

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– Bombers kicker Lirim Hajrullahu makes it 21-17 with a 47 yard FG to end the half

Third Quarter:

– Redblacks recieve the ball but their drive quickly stalls

– Bombers RB Grigsby takes a shovel pass and rumbles 45 yards

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– Gavins is flagged for roughing the passer after making a very late and dangerous hit, throwing himself into the back of Willy’s legs

– Despite having a first and goal from the 5, the Redblacks defense holds, thanks to a T.J. Hill (#21) sack

– Bombers kicker Lirim HODOR! makes it 21-20 with a 16 yard field goal

– The offense continues to struggle and after Burris gets sacked the Redblacks punt….again

– At the halfway mark of the quarter, the refs suddenly decide to give every fan in attendance a flag

– Jonathon Williams get his second (and the Redblacks’ 4th) sack of the game and forces a fumble which is recovered by Justin Capicciotti (#93)

– After stringing together a few 1st downs, the Redblacks attempt a 42 yard FG but settle for a rouge as Maher is widddddde left

– Justin “Captain” Phillips (#44) makes a crunching special teams tackle

– Former Bomber and current Redblack Jovon Johnson (#2) nearly picks off Willy

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– On the next play Gavin atones for his earlier mistakes by reading Willy’s eyes and making an interception

– Despite great field position the Redblacks can’t score a TD and instead settle for a 44 yard FG to extend their lead to 25-20

Fourth Quarter:

– Henry² makes an incredible finger tip catch and the Redblacks tack on another three points with a 20 yard FG

– On the ensuing kick off, Demond Washington zigzags through the entire Redblacks team for a 96 yard kick return TD; the Bombers try and go for two but the pass is broken up Gavins

– Rookie LB Travis Brown (#43) gives the Redblacks their 5th sack of the night with 7:05 left in the game

– Bombers take the lead when RB Grigsby scores his 3rd TD of the night, making it 33-28 for the boys in blue with 2:33 left

– Redblacks go two and out

– Bombers kicker Lirim Hallelujah splits the uprights from 37 yards out to make it 36-28

– With 30 seconds left the Redblacks fail to pick up a first down and turn the ball over on downs

Final Score: 36-28 for not the Redblacks

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Closing Thoughts:

Despite losing, the Redblacks played well enough to instill confidence in their fans and to serve notice to the rest of the CFL that they aren’t pushovers. Though the offense stalled in the second half, Burris looked very sharp and must be the youngest 39 year old ever. Chevon Walker is still in pre-season form and that’s a good thing as he continues to find the end zone. Canadian Rookie RT Nolan MacMillan more than held his own all night and the offensive line in general gave Burris time to make his reads and good protection. Another positive was that the defense brought pressure all night long and had no problems recording sacks, bringing Willy down 5 times. On the negative side, this was definitely a game to forget for DB Jerrel Gavins; he was targeted all night and got flagged numerous times. This loss comes down to the fact that the Redblacks had poor kick coverage and took too many penalties. Ottawa often shot themselves in the foot and if they can clean up the small things and stay disciplined then the wins will come. Lastly, let’s not forget that even with the loss we’re still tied for 1st in the East!

@RedBlackGade

All images courtesy CFL.ca

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6 thoughts on “Game #1; Redblacks come up just short

  1. Great Double R. Got say impressed with Chevon, awesome back this guys explosive and what can we say about Smilin Hank, super effort all around.

  2. Thanks for the write up! Interesting to see what they do with Gavins, Moore schooled him, but its not like Gavins was not in the vicinity on a lot of those plays and he never quit.

    I would be surprised if that hit on WIlly was not fined, hated that,

  3. As always, thanks for reading guys! And I agree Gib, though Gavins had a tough game he made some nice places, including the pick and knocking down the two point attempt. As for his hit on Willy it was simply inexcusable. All that being said it was his first game as pro and I’m sure he’ll play better going forward.

  4. Love the blog. Gonna be a great year! Hopefully you’ll cover the lansdowne open house for a future blog entry.

    1. Thanks for the support! Unfortunately we couldn’t get to the open house event, but shared all we could find on Twitter. Really looked like a great event. Can’t wait for Friday!

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