OTTAWA, ON – The REDBLACKS broke into the win column in style on Wednesday night in front of a raucous sellout crowd at TD Place, where they beat the visiting Montreal Alouettes 24-19 in a thriller that went down to the wire.
Trevor Harris completed 29 of 41 passes and added a pair of touchdowns in the win for the REDBLACKS (1-3-1), while receiver Greg Ellingson hauled in a game-high 149 yards — including a few spectacular catches — and a touchdown.
The win certainly didn’t come easily — Darian Durant and the Alouettes racked up 517 yards of offence and a series of penalties hurt the REDBLACKS — but a gritty defensive effort in the final minutes of the fourth quarter secured the well-earned divisional victory.
Kicker Brett Maher opened the scoring for the REDBLACKS midway through the first quarter with a 20-yard chip shot field goal, then doubled the lead just 92 seconds later with a 38-yard kick.
Montreal kicker Boris Bede responded late in the opening quarter with a field goal of his own from 42 yards.
A Maher single then pushed the lead to 7-3 at the end of a 10-play, 75-yard drive which could have been more if not for 20 yards in penalties.
Ottawa’s defence came up with an end-zone interception early in the second quarter, when linebacker Antoine Pruneau wrestled a ball away from Montreal receiver Tiquan Underwood. The play was originally called pass interference, but a sharp coach’s challenge from Campbell saw the call reversed to an interception.
The very next play brought the house down, as Harris connected with Greg Ellingson for a catch-and-run 80-yard touchdown. Maher’s convert then extended the Ottawa lead to 14-3.
Maher and Bede traded field goals in the closing stages of the first half, and the REDBLACKS took a 17-6 lead into the break.
Montreal’s offence came out gunning in the third quarter, with Durant finding Underwood on a 51-yard touchdown reception on the first possession of the half. The two-point convert bounced incomplete, and the REDBLACKS lead stood at 17-12.
Harris and the Ottawa offence responded by marching down the field quickly and, after an initial Ellingson touchdown reception was negated by a penalty, into the end zone on a three-yard Brad Sinopoli reception. Maher added the extra point and the REDBLACKS led 24-12.
The second-half shootout continued on the ensuing possession, as Durant found Nik Lewis on a four-yard pass into the flat for a major. Bede missed the convert and the REDBLACKS retained a six-point lead.
A Bede single midway through the fourth quarter cut the Alouettes’ deficit to 24-19.
Durant and the Als worked their way into the REDBLACKS red zone inside the two-minute mark, but a critical third-down stop by the Ottawa defence on their eight-yard line preserved the victory.
Defensive standouts for Ottawa included Taylor Reed and Jonathan Rose, who combined for 11 tackles and each registered a sack and forced a fumble in the win.
The REDBLACKS will continue their hectic 11-day, three-game stretch on Monday, when they’ll travel south to visit the Toronto Argonauts (2-2) on TSN Monday Night Football with a shot a first place in the East on the line.