CFL: Ottawa RedBlacks score three 2nd half TDs, keep Hamilton Tiger-Cats winless

HAMILTON – The Ottawa REDBLACKS just needed a little time to warm up.

After being held to no touchdowns and five field goals in the first half, Trevor Harris and the REDBLACKS exploded in the second half for three majors as they rallied to defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 37-19 on Friday night at Tim Horton’s Field.

Another 300+ yard performance from Trevor Harris, combined with a defense that chased Hamilton’s Zach Collaros out of the game, helped seal the victory. Collaros passed for 102 yards and a major before being pulled in the fourth quarter.

Diontae Spencer showed his speed on the REDBLACKS first punt return of the game, weaving through traffic and giving his offence great field position. Harris wasted no time before finding WR Greg Ellingson wide open to put Ottawa inside the five, but they’d settle for a field goal on the drive.

Brandon Banks provided a much-needed spark to the Tiger-Cats with a big punt return of his own, giving his team possession inside the REDBLACKS half. It took just one play for the Tiger-Cats to find paydirt, as Collaros found Luke Tasker, who made a leaping grab before weaving his way to the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown.

Zack Evans (92) of the Ottawa RedBlacks and Zach Collaros (4) of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the game at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, ON, Friday, August 18, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Castillo and Maher would trade field goals heading into the second quarter as both defensive units buckled down.

In a first half in which both offences were able to gain yardage but met a stingy defense in the redzone, Maher shined bright, converting all five of his field goal attempts to give the REDBLACKS a 15-10 lead at halftime.

Harris continued to find success through the air, surpassing the 300-yard mark as time expired in the third quarter. After settling for field goals for much of the contest, Harris finally found Greg Ellingson wide open down the right sideline for Ottawa’s first touchdown of the game.

After waiting three full quarters for a touchdown, the REDBLACKS had to wait just one more play to double their money. With heavy pressure bearing down on Collaros, the Hamilton pivot lost control of the football, which DL Avery Ellis scooped up and carried to the end zone for Ottawa’s second touchdown in 25 seconds of game clock.

Maher’s ensuing extra point attempt was blocked and returned for two points by Ticats DB Courtney Stephen, giving the REDBLACKS a 19-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

Collaros’ mixup which led to the REDBLACKS scoop and score, spelled the end of his day as he was immediately replaced by backup QB Jeremiah Masoli which proved to be the spark they needed albeit only briefly.

With Masoli now under centre for the Tiger-Cats, Hamilton stared down a big deficit with less than a quarter remaining. But the Ticats continued to battle, as Masoli spread the ball around to four different receivers before handing off to Brandon Banks, who capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed, and Hamilton trailed by 13.

The Tiger-Cats defence forced a quick punt, giving their offence another chance, but the Masoli magic had run out. Harris would lead the REDBLACKS down the field again, finding Jake Harty for his first career CFL touchdown, and sealing the Ottawa victory.

Next week the REDBLACKS will hope to carry their momentum into a home matchup with the BC Lions in Ottawa, while the Tiger-Cats will take a week off before squaring off with the Argos in the Labour Day Classic in week 11.

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