CFL: Big second half leads Edmonton Elks to win over REDBLACKS

OTTAWA — The Edmonton Elks came alive in the second half of Friday night’s contest against the Ottawa REDBLACKS and left TD Place with a 30-12 win.

Taylor Cornelius and the Elks dominated the final two quarters of the game, scoring three touchdowns on their way to victory. Kenny Lawler, Ante Milanovic-Litre, and Derel Walker scored the majors for Edmonton, who took control of the time of possession after returning to the field following half time. Quarterback/receiver Kai Locksley also added a touchdown on a sneak in the first half.

Cornelius finished the night completing 16 of 27 passes for 208 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added five carries for 47 yards on the ground.

Nick Arbuckle took over at quarterback in place of Caleb Evans late in the fourth quarter for the REDBLACKS but it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback. Evans completed 10 of 16 of his passes for 111 yards and no interceptions through the air while also added nine carries for 82 yards and a touchdown. Arbuckle finished completing 7 of 13 passes for 85 yards.

The Elks defence also held the REDBLACKS completely off the scoreboard in the third and fourth quarters.

» Box Score: Elks, REDBLACKS by the numbers
» Though the Lens: Edmonton at Ottawa
» Watch: Evans goes deep for Darvin Adams
» Halftime adjustments key for Elks in win over REDBLACKS

After the teams traded punts to open the contest, it appeared that the Ottawa REDBLACKS would notch the first points of the evening. Lewis Ward was good on his 46-yard field goal attempt, but Jake Ceresna was called for roughing the kicker, giving the REDBLACKS a fresh set of downs and a chance to go for a touchdown instead.

Devonte Williams picked up a three-yard gain and then Evans called his own number on second and seven and scampered 21 yards into the end zone for the game’s opening score. Ward connected on the convert and the REDBLACKS took a 7-0 lead with six minutes remaining in the first frame.

The Elks went to work on their ensuing possession, moving down into field goal range with a drive that included a 17-yard run from Ante Milanovic-Litre and a nine-yard run by Cornelius. Sergio Castillo‘s 52-yard field goal attempt sailed through the uprights, cutting the REDBLACKS lead to 7-3 with just under three minutes left on the clock.

Ottawa went to work on their next drive, moving the chains, but they had to settle for a field goal attempt of their own on the first play of the second quarter. Ward was unable to add three points to his team’s lead after missing his 40-yard attempt. A single was awarded from the miss, making the score 8-3.

Ward missed his second-straight field goal attempt, this one from 47 yards, with just under nine minutes until halftime. The single gave the REDBLACKS a 9-3 lead.

Following a two-and-out for the Elks on their ensuing possession, the home team gave the fans in attendance something to cheer about. Evans tossed a 50-yard pass to Darvin Adams who came down with the catch on the first play of the drive, bringing Ottawa down to the Edmonton nine-yard line. Jackson Bennett lost six yards on the next play and Evans called his own number on second down but it wasn’t enough for a fresh set. That set up Ward’s 13-yard field goal, adding to the REDBLACKS lead (12-3) with under five minutes left in the half.

The Elks scored their first major of the game late in the second quarter. A defensive pass interference call on Patrick Levels, who ran into Kenny Lawler in the end zone, brought Edmonton down to the REDBLACKS’ one-yard line. Ottawa’s defence stood tall, denying short yardage quarterback Kai Locksley‘s first two attempts at a QB sneak. The Elks tried for a third time on third down, as Locksley went around the edge to his right this time to get into the end zone. Castillo’s convert was unsuccessful as it hit the upright and the Elks cut the REDBLACKS lead to 12-9.

Edmonton’s offence hit the field first in the second half and made the most of it, moving down the field and setting up an 18-yard Lawler touchdown. The score and the completed convert gave the Elks their first lead of the game (16-12) just four minutes into the third quarter.

After the Elks defence held the REDBLACKS to a two-and-out on the ensuing drive, Cornelius and co. went to work once again. Edmonton moved the chains on the possession that included a few big plays, a 27-yard gain by Manny Arceneaux and an 18-yard pass to Lawler, helping to bring the Elks deep in Ottawa territory. Milanovic-Litre rushed in for a two-yard score to cap the 10-play, five and a half minute drive, increasing Edmonton’s lead to 23-12 with three and a half minutes left in the third frame.

Edmonton continued to dominate the time of possession in the second half on their third drive since coming back from the break. The drive started at the end of the third quarter and ended with a touchdown with six and half minutes left in the fourth quarter. Derel Walker was on the receiving end of Cornelius’ pass for the four-yard score to cap the 15-play drive. Castillo was good on his convert and the Elks increased their lead to 30-12.

Quarterback Nick Arbuckle took over under centre late in the game but he was unable to spark his offence for a comeback as the Elks walked away with the victory.

Up next is a rematch between these two teams in Week 12 at Commonwealth Stadium.

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