Ottawa REDBLACKS down Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday Night Football in Ottawa

OTTAWA – The Ottawa REDBLACKS shone on both sides of the football en route to a 40-17 win over the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday Night Football at TD Place in Ottawa.

Trevor Harris threw for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns, William Powell found the end zone twice and Diontae Spencer showcased his dynamic ability in the win for Rick Campbell’s team, which was bolstered by a monstrous performance by its defence at-large.

On the flip side, the Riders lost starting quarterback Zach Collaros in the second quarter and managed just 345 yards of offence — 41 of which came in garbage time — on the night. Four turnovers proved costly for Saskatchewan, which never seemed to find its groove on either side of the football.


The REDBLACKS opened the scoring on the first drive of the night, when a handful of pretty Trevor Harris completions and an offside penalty set up a 26-yard field goal for Ottawa kicker Lewis Ward.

Zach Collaros and the Riders offence struggled on their first two possessions, with a pair of two-and-outs highlighted by a monster sack by Ottawa’s Michael Wakefield.

A second field goal from Ward — another chip shot from 23 yards out — then doubled the REDBLACKS lead.

The visitors woke up offensively late in the first quarter, as Collaros capped a five-play, 62-yard drive with a pinpoint 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Williams-Lambert — the latter’s first in the CFL. Saskatchewan kicker Brett Lauther drilled the convert, and the Riders led 7-6 after the opening 15 minutes.

The lead was short-lived, as Collaros’s first pass of the second quarter was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Ottawa’s Jonathan Rose; the pass was intended for Shaq Evans, but Rose jumped the route and returned it 55 yards to the house. Harris then found Greg Ellingson in the corner of the end zone for the two-point convert, giving the REDBLACKS a 14-7 lead.

Collaros responded with a 46-yard bomb to Caleb Holley, taking the Riders into the red zone. Two plays later, however, Ottawa forced an end zone interception as Corey Tindal deflected an end zone pass into the hands of teammate Loucheiz Purifoy.

Two plays later, however, Harris threw a pick-six of his own; enigmatic two-way Rider Duron Carter — exclusively playing defensive back on Thursday night — stepped up, snatched Harris’s pass and returned it 28 yards for a major before his trademark celebration in the end zone. Lauther hit the extra point to tie the game at 14.

The ridiculous back-and-forth play continued on the next drive, as the REDBLACKS marched down the field to set up a dashing 15-yard touchdown run by William Powell. Harris then found Ellingson for yet another two-point convert, and the hosts took a 22-14 lead.

Ward’s third field goal of the evening with 1:28 remaining in the first half sent Ottawa to the locker room with an 11-point lead, and it could have been more as the University of Ottawa product sent a 48-yard effort wide right as the clock expired.

After a two and a half quarters’ worth of chirping, REDBLACKS receiver Diontae Spencer got the best of Carter in their one-on-one matchup midway through the third quarter; Harris chucked up a bomb and Spencer sprinted past Carter on his way to a 56-yard touchdown. The Ottawa quarterback then sprinted the two-point convert in himself to extend the lead to 33-14.

The host defence continued to impress late in the third quarter, as Rico Murray hauled in his first interception as a REDBLACK with an athletic pick of Bridge in the Ottawa end zone.

A 35-yard field goal from Lauther cut the lead to 33-17, but it was as close as the Riders would come.

A handful of Duron Carter pass-interference penalties then gave the REDBLACKS a chance from short range, and Harris and co. did not miss; Powell proved the benefactor as he hauled in a four-yard touchdown reception. Ward’s convert then rounded out the scoring on the night, bringing the lead to 40-17.

The story of the night proved to be Ottawa’s defence, which limited Saskatchewan on offence and came up with four key turnovers — including two interceptions in their own end zone.

REDBLACKS receiver Greg Ellingson hauled in a game-high 104 yards, while Riders linebacker Samuel Eguavoen registered a game-high seven tackles in the losing effort.

With the win, the REDBLACKS moved to 1-0 and will now face the daunting task of travelling across the country for a date with the Calgary Stampeders (1-0) on the Week 3 edition of Thursday Night Football (9 p.m. ET).

The loss dropped the Roughriders to 1-1 on the young season; Chris Jones’s team will now have eight days off to prepare for a home date with the Montreal Alouettes (0-1) next Saturday (9 p.m. ET).

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.