Redblacks Recap: Ottawa goes out with a whimper

By: Santino Filoso

If you look closely, you can count every Argo fan on one hand
If you look closely, you can count every Argo fan on one hand

On Friday night, the Redblacks inaugural season game to an end in the soulless stadium once known as Sky Dome. An Ottawa team playing for nothing but pride took on an Argos squad fighting for their playoff lives in front of the biggest home crowd of the year (roughly 19,000) and two dozen members of R-Nation who made the trek down the 401. Ultimately Toronto jumped out to a quick lead and the Redblacks never recovered. With the loss Ottawa finishes the year with a 2-16 record while the Argos playoff hopes now rest on the outcome of the Montreal/Hamilton game on Saturday.

Pre-game:

– Toronto media felt it fitting to publicly bash the Redblacks and their players, even going so far as to advise the Argos to rest key players and not try hard as they’d win anyways. Said media outlet barely deserves to hold the title of “News” and rhymes with run.

– Teams pay tribute to Canada’s fallen soldiers with poppy decals on each player’s helmet

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– The Redblacks come out for their warmups wearing their Signature Looks instead of their normal white road uniforms

– After three botched coin flip attempts, the Redblacks finally win the toss and chose to receive

1st Quarter:

– Ottawa opens with a trick play as Roy Finch (#19) laterals across the field to Antoine Pruneau (#6) who picks up 31 yards on the return

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– Despite starting on their own 46, the Redblacks quickly go two and out after a short Jeremiah Johnson (#27) run, an offside penalty and an overthrow

– Brandyn Thompson (#25) blows up Toronto RB Steve Slaton as he reaches for an over throw, but the Argos made it look easy as back up QB Trevor Harris picks apart the Redblacks secondary. Soft coverage + weak tackling = an Argo touchdown

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BOOM!

-Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) wipes out his own first down catch by starting the play offside and on the next play Henry Burris (#1) panics in the pocket and tosses a pass right into Argo DL Tristan Okpalaugo’s hands who returns it to Ottawa’s 3 yard line. Burris 14th pick of the year might also be his worst pass of the season

– Chad Owens converts one play later with a 3 yard TD pass, Argos led 14-0 after 7 minutes of play

– Danny “Boy” O’Brien (#9) enters the game and hands off to Johnson for a 10 yard gain, but that’s quickly wiped out by a holding call on Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63)

– Following an incompletion and Scott Macdonell (#83) 6 yard catch, Brett Maher (#3) punts for Ottawa

– The Argos drive down the field but Abdul Kanneh (#14) intercepts a deep ball in the end zone for a touchback

– Redblacks do nothing on offence going two and out for the 4th time in the quarter

2nd Quarter:

– Swayze Waters 39 yard FG makes it 17-0

– A promising drive that starts with a 19 yard romp from Johnson and a  6 yard catch from Macdonell ends when O’Brien is sacked on second down

Johnson was a threat, both times OC Mike Gibson decided to give him the ball
Johnson was a threat, both times OC Mike Gibson decided to give him the ball

– Chad Owens has an impressive 7 yard loss on the punt return

– The Redblacks’ defence flex their muscles and force a quick two and out

– A one yard loss on a run by Johnson and an O’Brien pass aimed at the top of the CN Tower Skypod leads to another two and out

– Ottawa’s defence bends but doesn’t break, eventually forcing a punt

– Showing off a lack of arm strength, O’Brien’s slow toss across the length of the field is picked off

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Not exactly what the coaches were hoping for

– After a Keith “I Like Hittin’ People” Shologan’s (#74) 2nd down sack, the Argos settle for a 22 yard FG

– Teams trade two and outs as both offences forgo the run and toss incompletions

– With 55 seconds left, O’Brien strings together his longest drive of the day, hitting Wallce “Boom or Bust” Miles (84), Macdonell and Finch for gains of 6, 10 and 10 yards. The half ends with a flag for unnecessary roughness on the Argos

Half-time:

R-Nation decides drinking socially won’t do and breaks out the heavy stuff because stats don’t lie

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U, G, L, Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you UGLY!

3rd Quarter:

– The Redblacks break the shutout when Maher’s 63 yard kick off is downed in the end zone for a single

– The Argos move the chains once before being forced to punt

– Different QB = same result as Burris re-enters the game but goes nowhere fast with an incompletion and sack

– Harris picks apart the secondary for a few easy first downs though the Argos are eventually forced to punt

– Burris puts together a few completions hitting Miles on back to back plays for gains of 11 and 12 yards, and newcomer Eddie Poole (#8) for a 9 yard gain. Burris also uses his legs to scramble for a 10 yard gain as the pocket collapses but the drive stalls when an open Matt Carter (#85) drops a deep pass. Maher’s punt sails 54 yards through the end zone for a rouge

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– The Redblacks defense continues to do it’s part with yet another two and out

4th Quarter:

– Ottawa finally enters Toronto’s red zone when Poole makes a great adjustment to haul in a  to a 42 yard bomb. A few plays later the refs miss a blatant face mask and following two straight incomplete end zone passes the Redblacks settle for a 22 yard FG

– The Argos answer with a 45 yard FG of their own to take a 23-5 lead

After an incredible first half, Harris cooled off
After an incredible first half, Harris cooled off

– On second down Burris is sacked for 10 yard loss so once again Ottawa punts

– Giving the Argos nothing, the defence forces another Argo two and out

The defence was much improved in the 2nd half
The defence was much improved in the 2nd half

– With 4:23 left in the game and O’Brien comes in at QB for the Redblacks

– Khalil Paden (#13) makes a great adjustment (and a few Argos miss) on a 77 yard catch and run, the longest play of Ottawa’s season. The great field position is wasted when O’Brien’s pass on 3rd down falls incomplete, leading to a turnover on downs

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– Argos go two and out

– Jamill Smith (#15)  fields the punt and decides to run backwards which predictably leads to a huge loss

– O’Brien’s 3rd down pass skips off the turf causing another turnover on downs

– The players on the defensive side of the ball look angry as they continue to punish Argonaut players with big hits and force a two and out

– Time expires as O’Brien alternates between throwing to nobody and hitting Patrick Lavoie (#81) for short gains

Final score: 23-5 for the team named after a band of mythic Greek heros

Key Stats:

O’Brien went 13 of 25 for 161 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT

Burris went 7 of 13 for 94 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT

Johnson had 2 carries for 19 yards

Paden made 2 catches for 89 yards

Justin Capicciotti (#93) made 5 tackles and 1 sack

Maher punted 9 times for 395 yards

Closing Thoughts:

The Redblacks season came to an end with a game that epitomized all of the things that have plagued the team this season; poor QB play, unoriginal play calling, untimely flags and a defence that bent but didn’t break. Leading up to the game, Head Coach Rick Campbell had talked of wanting to give O’Brien a good number of reps to see how he’d react and I think it’s safe to say he was at best, disappointing. O’Brien struggled all night, making a number of bad throws and tossing an ugly interception that seemed to show a lack of arm strength. Worse, he appeared to crumble in the face of pressure, often running backwards as he threw the ball out of bounds. That being  said, Burris wasn’t much better as he also threw an ugly interception but the only time the Redblacks strung together any kind of drive was with him under centre. Johnson and Finch ran hard, all FOUR times they were called up to run the ball. Yet again, OC Mike Gibson completely abandoned the run game, proving that without a doubt he should be the first person out the door when the team starts handing out pink slips. The offensive line had a terrible game, failing to protect either of the QBs, getting manhandled by Toronto’s front 7 and failing to pick up the blitz. In terms of WRs Paden had one beautiful catch and run and Poole looked very fast, though his QBs rarely had time to get him the ball. Macdonell showed some flashes early but after the first quarter never got any more playing time. Henry², Ottawa’s leading WR, was invisible, completly disappearing and rarely getting a look. I think it’s safe to safe that the position with the highest turnover in the off-season will be the WR group, as too many guys simply didn’t get it done. I know I’ve harped it him a lot, but it’s because he’s deserved it, once again Gibson’s play calling set the team up for failure. When your offensive line is struggling you need to adapt your calls and help them out, by calling quick passes with shorter drops and by pounding the rock. Calling 4 runs in a game is criminal, especially when guys like Johnson and Finch had proven to be highly effective downhill runners. Gibson’s vanilla offence was on fully display in the red zone, as he called the exact same corner fade route three times, and every time it was either over thrown or broken up. Why not a screen, or a draw, or a quick slant?

If there’s anything to take solace in after this frustrating season, it’s the Redblacks’ defence. On another night that the offence was a no show, the players on the defensive side of the ball recovered from a weak opening half to limit the Argos to a single FG in the final 30 minutes of play. Damaso Munoz (#45), Thompson and Capicciotti lead the way with 5 tackles each though guys like Jasper Simmons (#31) and Pruneau also looked strong. The biggest issue for the defence in the first half was that they simply couldn’t get any kind of pressure on Harris, allowing him to sit back and torch a secondary who had one of it’s weaker games. From a fans perspective is was nice to see the defence throwing some crushing hits and playing angry, it really stood out in contrast to an offence that never showed any sense of urgency. Going forward there’s a number of strong pieces for the team to build around and if defences do win championships then the Redblacks are headed in the right direction.

Ottawa’s special teams tonight were spectacular. Maher made the field goals he was supposed to and punted well. Great special teams coverage on the league’s most dangerous returner, ChadOwens, meant that for the majority of the night Ottawa won the field position battle. The opening play lateral to Pruneau was well executed and a throwback to the successful tricks plays used so effectively earlier this season. Smith really struggled on punt return, too often going backwards and giving up a ton of yards in a vain attempt to look for an opening, by this point in the year he should know better.

The Redblacks closed out their season with a whimper, barely putting up a fight against a desperate Argo team. Apparently numerous players read the reports from the Toronto media bashing them yet that emotion clearly didn’t carry over into the game as this one was out of reach early in the first quarter. Though the Redblacks season can be described as nothing but a disappointment, the future seems bright with many building blocks already in place. Guys like Scott Macdonell, Antoine Pruneau, Jasper Simmons, and Justin Capicciotti are poised to have big roles going forward. The real MOP this season was Ottawa’s fans, who sold out 9 straight home games, packing TD Place with 24,000+ despite their team’s record. The support will carry over to next season but expectations will be raised, the team cannot hide behind the expansion label going forwards. GM Marcel Desjardins figures to be busy this off-season addressing weaknesses such as the offensive line and the WR corps and perhaps adding a few QBs to the mix. Who do you think the Redblacks should target in FA and in the draft?

@RedBlackGade

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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

Henry Burris

– 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

46 Redblacks Took the Field Friday Night, You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next…

By: Santino Filoso

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On a beautiful fall night for football in front of their 7th straight sell-out crowd, the Ottawa Redblacks snapped their 9-game losing streak in dramatic fashion. A strong running game and suffocating defence moved Ottawa’s record to 2-11 on the year, mathematically keeping them in the playoff race for another week.

Pre-game:

– The Winnipeg Free Press features an awesome article on the CFL’s return to it’s rightful place in Ottawa

– Even a 9-game losing streak can’t dampen R-Nation’s enthusiasm on game day

– Carleton Security waits until the 7th home game to declare tailgating illegal, probably on grounds of safety. Meanwhile students continue to drink themselves blind in their dorms, Mike’s and Ollie’s

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Highly suspicious activity, right in the middle of class!

– Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame welcomes Ed Laverty and NCAFA president Steve Dean into their ranks

– The man in charge of Canada decides to take in the game

– Proving that offensive lineman don’t run an inch more than they need to, Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) just clears the tunnel

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This angle is referred to as the “Snap Cam”

– The Redblacks lose yet another coin flip, falling to 3-12 on the year

1st Quarter:

– Setting the tone early, Travis “Sticky Fingers” Brown (#43) shows why he’s Ottawa’s tip drill champ, picking off an errant pass and taking it 37 yards to the house behind a massive block from Jasper Simmons (#31)

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– Henry Burris (#1) and the offence start out strong as Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) and Dobson Collins (#80) make back to back first down catches but after the zebras ignore a blatant face mask, Brett Maher’s (#3) 52 yard FG attempt is shanked and returned 114 yards for a TD

– The Redblacks go two and out while Maher takes out his anger on the ensuing punt, smashing it into the stratosphere

– Antoine “The Phenom” Pruneau (#6) nearly gives Ottawa their second pick six of the night but can’t squeeze it

– Henry² lets an easy catch bounce off his fingers into the arms of a Bomber defender who brings it back to Ottawa’s 46 yard line

– Jerrell Gavins (#24) knifes in and takes down Grigbsy in the backfield

– 6’3”, 235 pound defensive lineman Justin Capicciotti (#93) drops into coverage and makes an incredible open field tackle to prevent a touchdown, Bombers settle for a 9 yard field goal

– Jonathon Williams (#23) busts an 11 yard run to end the quarter

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2nd Quarter:

– Ottawa’s offensive line fails to pick up the blitz and Burris is sacked for a 4 yard loss

– Following Maher’s punt, double fouls on the Bombers force them to start on their own 3 yard line

– Under heavy pressure, Willy just manages to get back to the line of scrimmage before being tackled by Zack Evans (#92)

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– Feeling jealous as the spotlight shift away from him to Henry²  who hauls in back to back catches, Williams literally makes something out of nothing on a 53 yard run into the end zone

– Sloppy special teams tackling on full display as Winnipeg takes the kick off  61 yards to start at Ottawa’s 43 yard line

– The Redblack’s lead disappears faster than your date when the bill arrives as the Bombers regain the lead by punching it in from the 1 following a Clarence Denmark 28 yard catch and run

– Burris gets nailed with a late hit and goes down hurt, Bombers get flagged for roughing the passer and Danny “Boy” O’Brien (#9) enters the game

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– Williams continues to rip off strong runs, gaining 6 and 27 yards on consecutive plays before O’Brien caps off the drive with a 5 yard TD pass to Khalil Paden (#13), who knew both of his back ups would throw TDs at home before Burris?

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– Showing no confidence that their special teamers can make a tackle, the Redblacks squib the kick off to avoid giving up a long return

-Capicciotti’s 2nd down sack is wiped out by an offside flag giving Winnipeg new life

– The Bombers forego a 45 yard FG attempt and heavy pressure causes Willy to throw an incompletion 3rd and 5

– R-Nation breathes a sigh of relief as Burris returns and proceeds to hit Paden and Wallace Miles (#84) for gains of 20 and 9 yards as FB John Delahunt (#49) absolutely earholes a defensive lineman.

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– Burris dumps a short pass to Williams who makes 4 guys miss as he rumbles 37 yards to the 3 yard line

– Finding the push that was lacking last week, Burris dives into the end zone on a QB sneak for the TD.

– After 30 minutes the Redblacks lead 28-17

Half-time:

– Karate and Dragon Ball Z replace pigskin on the field for 10 minutes

3rd Quarter:

– Ottawa receives and Burris is forced to take a timeout because Williams forgets to come on the field

– Wallace “Money” Miles (#84) makes  a 17 yard catch, fumbles and recovers

– More strong running from Williams plus catches by Marter (Matt Carter #85), Miles and Delahunt lead to a 25 yard Maher FG

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Williams was so in the zone he even had time to stop and give Burris a hug before taking the hand off

– Refs do their best to steal the show when Jermaine Robinson (#32) is flagged for a late hit on not a late hit

– Jealous of all the attention the other Williams is getting,  Jonathon “Big” Williams (#75) takes down Willy

– On the ensuing punt “Big” Williams takes his 800th unnecessary roughness penalty giving the Bombers a fresh set of downs

– Brandyn Thompson (#25) drops a interception in the back of the end zone

– Winnipeg’s 23 yard FG makes it 31-20

– Burris and company roll as Marter and Dobson haul in 13 and 14 yard cathces, while Willams gains 17 on the ground before taking a screen another 15 yards

– Scott Macdonell (#83) impresses for the 2nd straight week with a 23 yard catch and run, stepping out of bounds on the 3

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– Williams second TD of the night caps off an 8 play 75 yard drive

– The Redblacks tack on a single as the kickoff rolls through the end zone

– Former Bomber Jovon Johnson (#2) blows up a wide receiver screen

– Rod Black notes it’s starting to rain and says “Willy’s got to deal with wet balls now”

– After three quarters R-Nation feels like this finally might be the one we don’t find a way to lose

4th Quarter:

– Maher splits the uprights with a 32 yard FG

– A drunk fan takes the field and chest bumps a few defensive players before security hauls him away

– Nursing a huge lead, the Redblacks defence goes to work as R-Nation ramps up the noise.Capicciotti gets a sack and the Bombers get flagged for two false starts before they punt

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Go go gadget arms!

– The Bombers recover a Patrick Lavoie (#81) fumble but the defence bails him out with back to back sacks from Evans and Andrew Marshall (#90)

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– The Redblacks go two and out with two incomplete passes as Mike Gibson once again abandons the run

– Willy gets hit as he throws and Gavins gets Ottawa’s second pick of the night and returns it 65 yards. Gavins is shaken up on the play as he’s dragged down from behind

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– Faced with 3rd and 3 on Winnipeg’s 33 yard line, the Redblacks keep their offence on the field and turn the ball over on downs when Burris’ pass falls incomplete

– Moton Hopkins (#95) gets in on the sack attack, dropping Willy for a 5 yard loss

– Ottawa gets their 3rd interception of the night courtesy of Thompson

– Multiple hand offs to Williams close out the game as the Redblacks run the clock and move the chains

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All victory formations should have mandatory fireworks

Final score: Redblacks 42, Winnipeg, way less than that so who cares!

Key Stats:

Burris completed 24 of 31 passes (77%) for 284 yards with 1 INT

Williams ran the ball 21 times for 180 yards and 2 TDs

Miles hauled in 3 passes for 55 yards

Maher punted 3 times for 156 yards

Gavins made 8 tackles and 1 INT

Closing Thoughts:

Finally. R-Nation packed TD Place seven times waiting for a dominating win and they finally got it as the Redblacks beat up on the slumping Blue Bombers.  Ottawa’s offence came alive at home as TD Place finally lived up to its name. Burris was incredibly sharp, completing pass after pass as his receivers ran crisp routes and hung onto the ball. The star of the game was Williams as he tore through Winnipeg’s defence piling up 229 total yards. The offensive line deserves major props for opening huge holes and keeping Burris upright. Many people in Ottawa had been calling for OC Mike Gibson’s head (myself included) but tonight’s 500 yards of total offence will go a long way towards appeasing the masses.

Aside from a few miscues, the defence was their typical stingy selves, generating three interceptions to go along with six sacks. Willy rarely had a clean pocket to throw from and heavy pressure led to a number of incompletions; the defensive line simply terrorized and imposed their will on the Bombers. Numerous players stood out but Gavins in particular had a whale of a game as he made a number of tackles to go along with his near pick six.

Maher had a decent night kicking though long his long range FG attempts continue to miss. Special teams tackling was incredibly poor and the Redblacks are lucky that the TD they gave up didn’t come back to haunt them.

All in all this was exactly what the Redblacks and their fans needed. Ottawa’s had some terrible luck throughout their 9 game losing streak and fans who did their part by continuing to back the team through their growing pains were rewarded with the Redblacks’ most impressive effort of the year. R-Nation gets a special shout out for making TD Place LOUD. The team feeds off the crowd’s energy and the fans were definitely a factor tonight. With the playoffs still a long shot, Ottawa will spend Thanksgiving weekend in BC to take on the Lions and hopefully build off their impressive win.

@RedBlackGade

– All images via the Ottawa’s Redblacks site

When it rains it pours; Lions Edge the Redblacks

By: Santino Filoso

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On Friday night the Redblacks welcomed the BC Lions and former Redblacks QB Kevin Glenn to TD Place. Following a painful trend, the Redblacks lost another defensive struggle late in the 4th quarter to move their record to 1-9 on the year.

Pre-game:

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– OSEG continues to do the little things right, honouring Ottawa’s storied CFL history by unveiling a statue of Frank Clair

– The trolls who run the official CFL twitter account do their best to get Ottawa fans excited about the game

– R-Nation continues to show that they aren’t fair weather fans, filling TD Place once again

– Redblacks win the coin toss and choose to recieve

1st Quarter:

– Jamill Smith (#15) fields the opening kick and returns it 26 yards to Ottawa’s 35 yard line

– Henry Burris (#1) shows off his arm with a long pass as the Redblacks look to strike quickly but Marter (Matt Carter #85) fails to bring it in

– A Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) catch leads to a 35 yard FG off Brett Maher’s boot

– Jonathan Willams (#75) forces the Lions to punt on their opening drive when he gets this 3rd sack of the year, bringing Lulay down for an 8 yard loss

– Defence is the name of the game as the teams trade two and outs

2nd Quarter:

– Burris criminally under throws a pass right to Dante Marsh who picks it off and returns it 34 yards

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– Paul “Grandaddy” McCallum’s 49 yard FG is good evening things at 3

– The pocket collapses around Burris who is flushed, and hits Wallace Miles (#84) on the run for a 1st down

– The Redblacks dial up a fake field goal when Alex Carder (#4) hits FB Patrick Lavoie (#81) for a fresh set of downs

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– Chevon Walker (#29) has a few tough plays, first dropping a screen pass that would’ve been touchdown and then getting nailed by Solomon Elimimian, breaking his arm and fumbling for the 2nd time in his career while trying to extend the ball over the goal line

– In his first start in weeks, Moton “The Motivator” Hopkins tackles Harris in the end zone for a safety

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– Fans at TD Place continue to wait for the Redblacks offence to show any signs of life as they go two and out

– Antoine Pruneau (#6) misses Lulay as he comes in free on the blitz, allowing Lulay to scramble outside for a massive gain

– With no time left on the clock, McCallum’s 34 yard FG ends the half

Half-time:

Third Quarter:

– The defence continues to dominate, gang tackling Lions RB Andrew Harris for a loss

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– Ricky Schmitt punts 69 for a rouge, extending BC’s lead to 7-5

– Showing off a slick spin move Bradon Lang (#91) sacks Lulay

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– Lavoie gets beat clean by his man and Burris quickly goes down

– Henry² makes an incredible one handed catch, snagging a wobbly Burris throw

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Fourth Quarter:

– BC tries to get fancy but their WR sweep is snuffed out for a huge loss as the Redblacks keep contain and box Emmanuel Arceneaux in

– With torrential rain falling and easily within FG range, Maher never gets the chance to give the Redblacks the leads as Danny O’Brien (#9) lets the snap slide right through his hands, and his panicked pass falls incomplete

– Lulay survives a collapsing pocket, breaks a few arm tackles and turns a sack into positive yards

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– With just over a minute left and deep in Redblacks territory, Lulay fumbles the ball and re-injuries his throwing shoulder

– The Lions recover the loose ball, dashing any hopes of a Redblacks comeback

– Final score: 7-5 for BC

Key Stats:

Burris went 21 of 32 for 188 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT

Walker had 4 carries for 6 yards

Henry² made 4 catches for 51 yards

Maher punted 9 times for 428 yards

Jermaine Robison (#32) made 7 tackesl

Closing Thoughts:

Another week brings another close loss. It’s said that good teams find ways to win games, so maybe expansions teams find ways to lose them. On a night when the offence struggled, the defence gave the Redblacks a chance to win. Some fans have been clamouring for Burris to be benched for weeks and his performance did nothing to silence his critics. There were a few drops, but Burris looked off all night, under and over throwing open receivers. The run game was non-existent, with only 12 yards gained on 10 carries between Walker and Michael Haynes (#34). The offensive line played soft all game long, failing to give Burris any kind of time and their inability to open up running lanes perhaps plays a factor in OC Mike Gibson’s reluctance to call runs.

The defence played lights out, putting points on the board again and limiting BC to two FGs and a rouge. If you hold the other team without a touchdown in the CFL you should win the game, plain and simple. If there is a positive to take from the Redblacks recent losing streak it’s that the defence is playing consistently tough and refuses to give up. Though their efforts are currently overshadowed by the team’s offensive woes, the Redblacks strong defence bodes well for the team’s future.

On special teams the Redblacks did an admirable job containing the league’s most dangerous returner (Tim Brown), holding him to a single long return of 25 yards. Maher made every field goal he had a chance to kick and averaged nearly 48 yards per punt.

With their next game on September 21st, the Redblacks need to make the most of their bye week by figuring out a way to put points on the board and how to deal with the loss of Chevon Walker, out for the season with a broken arm. Sitting in last in the East and with a record of 1-9, the Redblacks next game against the GREENWHITES is pivotal in keeping their playoff hopes alive.

@RedBlackGade

– All images via Roman Romanovich, CFL.ca and the Ottawa Sun

Redblacks Lose Battle of the 417

By: Santino Filoso

Ottawa Redblacks v Montreal Alouettes

On Friday night the Redblacks headed to Montreal to avoid becoming the worst team in the CFL in a battle of two 1-7 clubs. Unfortunately, despite it once again being a one score game in the 4th quarter, the Redblacks comedy of errors caught up to them and cost them a win, dropping their record to a dismal 1-8.

Pre-Game:

– In a surprising move, the Redblacks come out for warm ups sporting their black home jerseys

– The CFL’s twitter feed continues it’s trend of digging up obscure Ottawa facts

– Redblacks lose the coin toss, writers would call this foreshadowing

– The Al’s stadium looks shockingly empty at kick off

1st Quarter:

– Redblacks come out of the gate sharp, marching the ball down field with catches by Henry² (Marcus Henry #16), Dobson Collins (#80), and Marter (Matt Carter, #85) but are forced to settle for a FG after they can’t overcome three penalties and a Burris sack

– Brett “Money” Maher’s (#3) 29 yard FG triples the amount of points the Redblacks scored all of last week

– The Al’s first possession ends in a punt after a few stuffed runs and heavy pocket pressure causes Jonathan “Sunshine” Crompton’s passes to fall incomplete

– Henry Burris (#1) and company go two and out courtesy a Patrick Lavoie (#81) drop

– The defence plays tough but Jerrell Gavins (#24) is flagged for illegal contact on 2nd down, giving the Als a second chance

– Jermaine Robinson (#32) grabs a piece of face mask when trying to make a tackle on 2nd down and gives the Als a free 15 yards

– Facing 3rd and 1 on the Redblacks 1 yard line, the defence stands tall and stuffs the Als, but Bradon Lang’s (#91) pinky is a fingernail over the line and he’s flagged for being offside, giving the Als a fresh set of downs

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All for naught

– After being stuffed on another run play, Al’s back up QB Tanner Marsh “Madness” caps off the 11 play, 75 yard drive with a 1 yard TD pass to SJ Green

Not in the bread basket but it still counts
Not in the bread basket but it still counts

– Redblacks go two and out again after Chevon Walker (#29) picks up 3 yards on the ground and Henry² catches a 5 yard screen pass

– A face masking flag on the ensuing punt sets the Als up near mid-field

2nd Quarter:

– Sean Whyte booms a 52 yard punt through the end zone to extend the Alouette lead by 1

– TSN cuts to an awesome pre-game speech delivered by last minute healthy scratch Moton Hopkins (#95)

– The offensive woes and penalty flags continue as the Redblacks go two and out and are flagged for procedure on the punt

– Sunshine gets into rhyme as the Redblacks defence struggles with the roll outs, play fakes, and misdirection thrown at them

– Deep in the red zone, Travis “Sticky Fingers” Brown (#43) steps in front of Brandon Whitaker to pick off Crompton and ends the Al’s scoring threat

Climbing the ladder
Climbing the ladder

– A direct snap to Walker goes nowhere fast and despite an 11 yard catch from Collins, an illegal block and a 17 yard sack force another punt

– Duron “My Dad’s A Hall of Famer” Carter makes a 19 yard catch and Brown gets flagged for roughing the passer

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– Continuing to show a nose for the ball, Antoine Pruneau (#6) forces a goal line fumble which Gavins recovers

– Taking two steps forward and one back, a Collins catch is sandwiched by a pair of offsides

– Wallace Miles (#84) and Khalil Paden (#13) haul in passes to move the Redblacks within range for an end of half end zone heave but Chip Cox knocks the pass down

– 8-3 for Habs after 30 minutes

Half-time:

– When asked what he said to the guys in the locker room, Burris answered: “An artist never takes an eraser to his work, so we need to stop erasing our positive plays on offence”

3rd Quarter:

– A Duron Carter highlight reel over the shoulder catch and short Sunshine scramble led to another rouge

– Offensive Co-Ordinator Mike Gibson continues to call ineffective runs out of shotgun

– Teams trade two and outs

– Bradon London blows by new comer Abdul Kanneh (#14) for a 51 yard gain but Reggie “Showtime” Jones (#20) saves a TD with the tackle

– Pruneau uses his body as a speed bump, disrupting Green’s timing just enough to ensure the incompletion in the end zone

– Whyte makes it 12-3 with a 22 yard FG

– Under heavy pressure, Burris gets stripped of the ball and fumbles, which is recovered by the Als

Yes, this ended badly
Yes, this ended badly

– Whyte turns the turnover into another rouge, his 3rd single of the night

– With the Als defensive line on him almost at the same time that he receives the ball, Burris is forced to chuck and duck, leading to the Redblacks’ 6th straight two and out

4th Quarter:

– Miles giveth with a 1st down catch and taketh with a 2nd down drop, Redblacks forced to punt

– Whyte gets hit while punting but since the ref is tired of throwing his flag he lets it slide

– After 3.5 quarters OC Mike Gibson finally clues in that his seven step drops aren’t working and the Redblacks switch their attack to quick short passes. This proves to be highly effective as Burris leads the offence on an 80 yard drive , featuring catches by Collins, Paden and is capped off with a 27 yard TD catch and run by Miles, Ottawa’s first TD in 193 min and 28 seconds and first since week 7

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42 possessions ago (the last offensive TD), I was a young woman!

 

– Wasting no time, the Als respond when Robinson falls, leaving Duron Carter all alone to make a 48 yard catch. Adding insult to injury, Brown is called for a very suspect roughing the passer penalty, tacking on an extra 15 yards

– Nobody on defence wants to make a tackle as James Rogers rumbles 17 yards through weak arm tackles on a WR sweep to the house, giving the Als a 10 point lead 3 plays and 1 minute after the Redblacks pulled within 3

– An important Henry² catch (that would’ve been good for a first down) is nullified by a holding call, so instead of a fresh set of downs the Redblacks have to punt

– The defence continues to do it’s part holding the Als to another two and out

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– Facing a 2nd and 2 on the Als’ 30 yard line with 1:30 left, Burris comes up short on a QB sneak while his helmet is ripped off his face. Inexplicably there’s no flag, probably because the refs believe Burris wears a magic helmet that has the power to violently rip itself off of his head

– Foregoing a short FG that would pull the Redblacks within one score and give them a shot at an onside recovery, Head Coach Rick Campbell decides to go for it on 3rd and 1, but the Redblacks fail to convert, turning the ball over on downs

– Final Score: 20-10 for not the Redblacks

Key Stats:

Burris went 21 of 34 for 245 yards with 1 TD

Walker had 7 carries for 31 yards

Miles hauled in 7 passes for 101 yards and 1 TD

Justin Capicciotti (#93) led the way on defence with 6 tackles

Maher punted 9 times for 423 yards

Closing Thoughts:

There’s no sugar coating the fact that this was a game that most Redblacks fans thought the team would win. After some strong showings against some tough Western opponents, tonight was the Redblacks’ chance to make a push for a playoff spot. Despite a promising early drive, Ottawa’s offensive woes from past weeks carried over into this game. Burris had a number of throws I’m sure he’d like back but his offensive line also didn’t do a whole lot to give him any time to really plant his feet. OC Mike Gibson called his worst game of the year, failing to involve Walker and take some pressure off the passing game, only calling 7 running plays all night long, talk about throwing your QB to the wolves. Furthermore, it took Gibson the better part of three and a half quarters to adjust and finally call some plays that gave his players a chance to make something happen. Considering that the offensive line was struggling and that Burris was under pressure all night long, it’s criminal that Gibson didn’t adapt and mix in a few more runs earlier. One issue that really needs to be addressed is how receivers react after catching the ball. All too often instead of simply putting their head down and plowing forward for the first down, they danced around and ended up losing yards.

Even lacking Keith Shologan (#74), Ottawa’s defence continued to play at a high level, keeping the Redblacks in the game for nearly 55 minutes. Linebackers Pruneau, Jasper Simmons (#31) and Brown flew around and made their presence felt. Gavins was the only real standout in terms of coverage but in general the corners seemed to play a bit too soft. New comer Abdul Kanneh showed his inexperience, often being caught out of position. Ultimately the defence caught a few bad breaks, with some highly questionable roughing the passer flags and Robinson slipping to leave Carter open on the long bomb which lead to the nail in the coffin TD. Despite allowing the Als to march down immediately after the offence pulled within three, it’s hard to fault the defence considering the fact that they were once again on the field for nearly 35 minutes. As long as the defence continues to play at this level the Redblacks will be in every game, especially if the offence can find a way to put up points on a consistent basis.

Specials teams were a bright spot, with good coverage and Maher averaging 47 yards a punt. Although Jamill Smith (#15) didn’t have a punt return longer than 15 yards he looked quicker and did his part in the field position battle. Looking back on this game the Redblacks will rue the number of penalties they took. After 30 minutes they had racked up 12 flags for 80 yards and by the end of the game the total was 16 penalties for 135 yards. The lack of discipline was a back breaker as the flags wiped out positive offence plays and directly lead to points against, keeping Alouette drives alive when they had no right to be. Some of the blame has to fall on the coaching staff as this has been an issue for Ottawa since the pre-season, but at the same time these guys are supposed to be professionals. They KNOW they can’t tackle players by their facemasks yet still grab them, and they KNOW they can’t line up offside yet still screw it up. Coaching is a part of the problem but at the same time the players need to own their bone-head mistakes.

Things don’t get any easier for the Redblacks as the BC Lions come to town next week, perhaps with Kevin Glenn at the helm. R-Nation is sure to pack TD Place again and give him the welcome he deserves, so hopefully the team had draw off the crowd’s energy and pick up their 2nd win of the season.

@RedBlackGade

– All images via CFL.ca and the Ottawa Sun