Redblacks Recap: Ottawa Implodes as Ticats Claw Out Win

By: Santino Filoso

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On a cold, windy, Halloween night, the Ticats rolled into town for the Redblacks final home game of the season. As has come to be expected, R-Nation packed TD Place, selling it out for the 9th straight time and proving once and for all that Ottawa IS a football town. Though the home fans were treated to a much more exciting game than the usual defensive struggle they normally see, ultimately the Redblacks lost once again.

Pre-game:

– In yet another classy move, OSEG continues to link Ottawa’s storied football history to the present by renaming and dedicating the press box to long time Rough Rider announcer Ernie Calcutt

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– R-Nation goes all out to get into the Halloween spirit

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats v Ottawa RedBlacks

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– Good to see that PA announcer Mike. Sutherland is recovering well from his recent plastic surgery

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– Players gather at centre field to salute the fans, who once again do their part, selling out TD Place for the 9th straight time

– Ottawa wins the coin toss to move their toss record to 5-14 on the year

1st Quarter:

– Roy Finch (#19) returns the opening kick off 38 yards to start the game

– Ottawa goes two and out after FB John “Boom” Delahunt (#49) makes a 4 yard catch and a deep pass for Matt “Matty Ice” Carter (#85) is broken up

– A beautiful punt by Brett Maher (#3) and great coverage pins the Ticats inside their own 10

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– Jovon “The Vet” Johnson (#2) comes roaring in on the corner blitz and brings down Collaros for his second sack of the year

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– Catches by Carter and Wallace “Boom or Bust” Miles (#84) help the Redblacks march into the red zone but the drive stalls when Burris is sacked and overthrows an open Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) in the end zone

– Maher pushes his 29 yard FG wide right but gets the single so Ottawa takes a 1-0 lead

– Heavy pressure forces Collaros to throw an incompletion on 2nd down and the Ticats go two and out

– Danny “Boy” O’Brien (#9) enters the game and immediately hits Henry² for a 20 yard gain

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– The Redblacks cover 86 yards in 7 plays for a touchdown on Jeremiah “Flow” Johnson’s (#27) back as he gets it done with hard running and a beautiful executed screen. O’Brien is shaken up on the drive after being levelled while completing a pass

Jeremiah Johnson, Colin Kelly

2nd Quarter:

– On 2nd down, Travis Brown (#43) and Jermaine Robinson (#32) meet at the QB and sack Collaros for a big loss, Ticats come away with nothing after a long drive

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– O’Brien is back in at QB and Johnson takes off for 21 yards. The drive is cut short when Finch catches a short pass and fumbles. Ticats knock it out of bounds, recover and take over at Ottawa’s 29

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– Hamilton makes the most of the turnover two plays later when back to back run plays lead to a touchdown

– The short kick off is fielded by 6 foot 6 inch DL Marlon Smith (#98) who actually looks surprisingly smooth as he scurries for a decent return

Defensive lineman? Or Dante Hall in disguise?
Defensive lineman? Or Dante Hall in disguise?

– The QB rotation continues and Burris finds Carter three times on the drive for gains of 19, 11 and finally 34 yards for a TD as Carter carves up the Ticats secondary like a pumpkin

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– All the energy and momentum is sucked out of TD Place when Brandon Banks takes the ensuing kick off for 103 yards for a touchdown

– After a 7 yard run by Johnson, Burris scrambles for his life, barely avoids the sack and throws the ball away

– Newcomer David Hinds (#20) is flagged for roughing the passer when he slightly nudges Collaros

– With no one open and under heavy pressure, Collaros forced to throw the ball away on 2nd down

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– O’Brien takes the reigns of the offence and after hiting Delahunt for a 15 yard gain and  Johnson for anther 10,  an overthrow is picked off and returned 46 yards

– Justin Capicciotti’s (#93) ninth sack of the year is an 18 yard loss and on 3rd and 33 the Ticats punt

– Jamill Smith’s 28 yard punt return is wiped out by an objectionable conduct call on Ottawa’s bench

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– Johnson runs for 6 before O’Brien takes a knee to end the half

Jeremiah Johnson

– Redblacks lead 15-14 after 30 min

Half-time:

– Big Joe’s anthem plays

– This guy wins best costume and $1000

3rd Quarter:

– Ticats get the ball and march down the field thanks to sloppy arm tackles and flags. Capicciotti gets his 2nd sack of the night but Hamilton takes the lead with a 22 yard FG

– With Burris in at QB the offence puts together one of it’s best drives of the night; Johnson picks up 28 yards on two runs, Delahunt hauls in an 11 yard pass, Smith gains 9 yards on sweep, Burris gives the Redblacks a fresh set of downs after a QB sneak and Johnson caps the drive off in style, juking 25 yards into the end zone, making Ticat defenders look silly

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– The defence flexes it’s muscles quickly forcing another Ticat two and out

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– O’Brien has a series to forget as he fumbles the handoff on first down before throwing a pick six on the next play. Ticats lead 24-22

– With Burris in at QB, the Redblacks go two and out following two incompletions as OC Mike Gibson decides that running the ball isn’t a good idea in a tight, one score game

– Brown gets the ball back for Ottawa when he absolutely blows up Terrell Sinkfield and forces a fumble that is scooped up by DL Moton “The Motivator” Hopkins (#95)

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– Johnson runs for a short gain and Burris is sacked on 2nd down. A bonehead after the whistle flag on OL Colin Kelly (#67) pushes the Redblacks back an extra 15 yards

4th Quarter:

– Hamilton RB Mossis Madu wobbles off the field after getting walloped by a trio of Ottawa defenders

– Ticats increase their lead with a 28 yard FG

– Miles season is summed up in a nutshell as he drops an easy pass before making two tough catches over the middle for gains of 19 and 12 yards respectively. Maher’s 42 yard FG makes it 27-25

– Smith blows up a run for a loss and Collaros throws an incompletion as the Ticats go two and out

– Inside the shadow of his own goal posts, Burris is sacked and then proceeds to show that anything O’Brien can do he can do better by throwing his own pick six

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– HC Rick Campbell decides to keep O’Brien on the bench and Burris trots back out (after the game we learn that O’Brien was hurt)

– Ottawa is saved by the flag when a sack is wiped out by a roughing the passer call

– Carter gets way behind the defence but a sure fire touchdown falls incomplete, rolling off his fingertips

– Khalil Paden (#13), Patrick Lavoie (#81), Miles and Carter all make catches to get the Redblacks into the red zone but OC Mike Gibson decides to run the ball on 2nd down which results in a 4 yard loss

On 3rd and 7, down by 9 with 1:47 left and on the Ticat’s 19 yard line, Campbell chooses NOT to kick the FG to cut the lead to 6 and instead Burris’ pass is picked off in the end zone

– Hamilton strings together a few first downs to run out the clock

Final score: 34-25

Key stats:

Burris went 15 of 22 for 222 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs

O’Brien went 6 of 10 for 83 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs

Johnson had 17 carries for 131 yards and 2 TDs

Carter made 5 catches 81 yards and 1 TD

Capicciotti made 4 tackles and 2 sacks

Maher punted 4 times for 180 yards

Closing Thoughts:

Once again the Redblacks take two steps forward and two steps back. It’s hard to win CFL games and it’s damn near impossible to win when you have 5 turnovers (with 21 points off them), give up a 103 yard kick off TD return and throw two pick sixes.

The dual QB attack was effective early but seemed to hinder both QBs as the game worn on, as neither one seemed to be able to settle into a rhythm, both overthrowing receivers and tossing interceptions. A case could be made for either QB having the better game but in the end neither did enough to protect the ball. The run game was extremely effective as Jeremiah Johnson tore through the Ticats like a knife through hot butter. Inexplicably, in spite of the run game rolling on all cylinders, OC Mike Gibson sometimes got away from the run which lead to two and outs. The WRs were led by Miles and Carter and once again though Carter had a strong game, ultimately he will be remembered for the late drop when he was wide open. Disappointingly, promising rookie Scott Macdonell (#83) never saw the field, despite proving his value in recent weeks. The shuffled offensive line looked very good when run blocking, opening up huge running lanes for Johnson to exploit but failed to pick up the blitz in pass protection several times, giving up sacks in crucial situations. Mike Gibson chose not to take advantage of Hamilton’s aggressiveness with bland play calling, calling only one screen and no draws or misdirection plays. Still, it was one of the team’s better offensive performances on the year, though much of the good work they did was undone with interceptions and fumbles.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Redblacks made the Ticats grind out every drive. Collaros was under duress for the whole game but often hung in the pocket just long enough to take a hit and deliver the pass for a first down gain. The Redblacks routinely blew up plays in the backfield for losses, setting up 2nd and long and allowing them to blitz and tee off on Collaros. Though they didn’t score, the unit generated another turnover and bailed out the offence after O’Brien’s first pick, sacking Collaros to push the Ticats out of FG range. Technically the defence only gave up 13 points with 14 of the Ticats 34 coming off interceptions taken to the house and 7 from a kick return.

Special teams again winded up costing Ottawa big time. As has been the case all season long, Maher punted extremely well but shanked a short FG, points that would’ve come in handy late in the game. The most glaring error was the team surrendering yet another long kick return touchdown, the 6th return touchdown given up by the Redblacks this year.

Head Coach Rick Campbell will take some flak this week for another puzzling decision. Late in the game on 3rd and 7 when down by 9, he chose to forgo the FG and instead go for the end zone. If the Redblacks kick a field goal at that point they extend the game, keep hope alive and give their offence another shot. Instead, by choosing to go for it, the game was effectively over the second the Redblacks didn’t convert that play. As has happened the past few weeks, Campbell looked like a rookie coach simply blowing an important decision late in the game. Clearly he’s still learning how to properly manage a game but as a fan it’s much more frustrating to see a coach make a mistake than a player.

Looking back, this year will be a disappointment but it’s important to remember that this was Ottawa’s 10th loss by 10 points or less this season. The Redblacks may have lost 15 games but they were almost never blown out. Thankfully their two wins came at home and it was fantastic to see the community of Ottawa embracing their new team, selling out every home game. Many of the players on the team played their last game in front of R-Nation tonight and they’ll look back on their time in the Nation’s Capital with fond memories. Next up for the Redblacks is a date with the Argos in the soulless stadium once known as the Sky Dome. Ottawa will potentially have the opportunity to knock the Argos out of playoffs and with jobs on the line you can be sure the team will bring their A game.

@RedBlackGade

P.S. Hats off to the team for rewarding loyal fans by having players literally give the shirts off their backs to fans after the game

– All images via CFL.ca, Ottawaredblacks.com and the Ottawa Citizen

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5 thoughts on “Redblacks Recap: Ottawa Implodes as Ticats Claw Out Win

  1. Great reporting as usual, thank you, and yes what’s with not playing #83 the big Canadian rookie ? – all he did last week against the Als, besides that great TD scamper, was lead both teams in receiving yards. Otherwise so jacked to see pro football back in our great city. Can’t wait till next season.

  2. Good game breakdown, as always. But Campbell made the right decision on 3rd and 7, down by 9 with 1:47 left and on the Ticat’s 19 yard line. If they make the FG and get the ball back, they’re unlikely to get a better chance to score a TD than from the 19. No matter what they need to score a TD so Campbell was smart to use the best opportunity he had to try and get it. Keeping hope alive is all good, but there’s nothing to be gained by putting yourself in a tougher position to score on the next drive. He’s made some head scratchers this season, but I applaud Campbell for being aggressive and playing to win, not just to lose by less.

  3. For a first year expansion team, struggles were guaranteed. What impressed me the most, and like was mentioned in the article, we were very much in 10 games this season by 10 pts or less. Credit to the defensive line first and foremost. They were the rock of this year’s team and more often than not, came through when needed. The offense was a different story this season. I wish we would play more aggressive more often, as that seems to be when the RedBlacks are on fire (see the last win against WPG). I am not sure if ‘blowing up the team’ is needed. I think the biggest needs are for O-Line help for Burris to buy him another few precious moments in the pocket. Receivers (good ones anyway) seem to be hard to come by in the CFL. Not sure if we have an established one yet from this year’s roster. Running Backs for next year with Walker and Williams will be a treat to watch. Definitely looking forward to 2015!

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