October 8, 2017

REDBLACKS rise above Lions in stunning second-half comeback

Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver Dominique Rhymes (89) and Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver Greg Ellingson (82) celebrate a touchdown during second half CFL action in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, October 7, 2017. (CFL PHOTO - Jimmy Jeong)

For two-plus quarters at BC Place on Saturday night, it looked like a lost cause for the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

Then, trailing 25-6 late in the third quarter, Rick Campbell’s team took control of their own destiny: The defence forced key turnovers, quarterback Trevor Harris and the passing game roared to life, and the REDBLACKS (6-9-1) rose up to claim a critical 30-25 win over the BC Lions (6-8).

The game turned on a dime late in the third quarter when Jerrell Gavins forced a Lions fumble deep in the BC half, where Jonathan Rose fell on the loose ball. From that point forward, it was all REDBLACKS.

BC opened the scoring early, as Jonathon Jennings capped a clean nine-play, 80-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Arceneaux. The two-point convert sailed incomplete, and the Lions led 6-0.

A 17-yard chip shot from kicker Brett Maher then cut Ottawa’s deficit in half.

The hosts extended their lead in spectacular fashion late in the second quarter, as Jennings connected with Shaq Johnson for an athletic 58-yard touchdown; the ensuing two-point convert failed.

Ty Long and Maher traded field goals — the former from 50, the latter from 45 — to send the teams to the locker room with BC in front 15-6.

The Lions extended their lead on their first drive of the second half, as Jennings found Arceneaux on a picture-perfect 55-yard touchdown. The following convert and a subsequent field goal from Long pushed BC’s lead to 19.

Ottawa swung momentum late in the third quarter, when Gavins forced a fumble deep in Lions territory and Rose pounced; two plays later, Harris found a wide-open Ellingson for a 19-yard touchdown. While the two-point convert failed, the REDBLACKS had sprung to life.

The following kick-off — a gutsy onside call — was recovered by veteran Antoine Pruneau. Two superb passes to Diontae Spencer later, Ottawa was back in the end zone. Maher’s subsequent convert cut the REDBLACKS’ deficit to 25-19.

Harris and co.’s incredible comeback was completed early in the fourth quarter, when the Ottawa pivot launched a deep bomb to Ellingson for their second touchdown connection of the day. Maher’s convert then handed the REDBLACKS their first lead of the contest.

Four more points from the Ottawa kicker — a kick-off single and 15-yard chip shot — made it 30-25.
The REDBLACKS defence then held down the fort to secure the crucial win.

What They’re Saying

“It was a big win, give our players full credit because they made the plays to win the game. You need to make some big plays in a game — we’ve played stretches of nice football, but you need those big plays like a turnover or deep pass. Jerrell (Gavins) and Trevor (Harris) played a part in that tonight.” — HC Rick Campbell

“I can’t wait to watch the film because our primaries just weren’t there. BC mixed up their calls and schemes well, we just had to be patient. We finally started changing up our calls, pushing the ball downfield, and got our shots in there. A great overall team win — defence getting turnovers, special teams playing well.” — QB Trevor Harris

Game Notes

QB Trevor Harris threw for 380 yards and a trio of touchdowns in his return to the lineup…Ottawa’s 24-point run came in the span of just 9:47…The REDBLACKS trail first-place Toronto by just a single point following Saturday’s win.

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
BC — TD Jennings to J. Johnson (2-pt conv. failed) — 8:14
OTT — FG Maher — 0:09

Second Quarter
BC — TD Jennings to S. Johnson (2-pt. conv. failed) — 4:50
BC — FG Long — 2:10
OTT — FG Maher — 0:23

Third Quarter
BC — TD Jennings to Arceneaux (Long conv.) — 11:19
BC — FG Long — 6:53
OTT — TD Harris to Ellingson (2-pt. conv. failed) — 2:15
OTT — TD Harris to Spencer (Maher conv.) — 1:17

Fourth Quarter
OTT — TD Harris to Ellingson (Maher conv.) — 10:20
OTT — Maher single — 9:40
OTT — FG Maher — 7:27