Ottawa REDBLACKS hold on to win rematch over Elks

EDMONTON — The Ottawa REDBLACKS saw opportunity and seized it in a 25-18 win over the Edmonton Elks at Commonwealth Stadium on a rainy Saturday night for their second win of the season.

Three straight touchdown drives in the first half by Ottawa were the difference, as Edmonton was unable to establish a rhythm early on and complete a comeback.

Nick Arbuckle, who made the most of his first start as a member of the REDBLACKS and in his return to Edmonton, threw for 219 yards and logged a rushing touchdown. Caleb Evans also scored twice on the ground for Ottawa in the win.

Taylor Cornelius had two rushing touchdowns and threw for 287 yards and an interception in the loss.

The game saw a receiver with each team reach the century mark. Kenny Lawler had three receptions for 146 yards, including a “Catch of the Year” candidate 54-yard pass. For the REDBLACKS, Nate Behar had four catches for 101 yards in his first 100-yard game of his career.

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Sergio Castillo put the Elks on the board first with a 32-yard field goal midway through the opening frame.

From then on, it would be all REDBLACKS in the opening half.

After back-to-back throws by Nick Arbuckle to Nate Behar and Darvin Adams, Ottawa set up on Edmonton’s one-yard line for an easy quarterback sneak touchdown by Arbuckle. A missed field goal put the REDBLACKS ahead by three points.

Later in the first half, Caleb Evans substituted for Arbuckle to punch in the REDBLACKS’ second touchdown on the night from Edmonton’s two-yard line. Lewis Ward connected on the convert and put Ottawa up 13-3 over the Elks.

Not to be outshone by the offence, the REDBLACKS defence stood tall through the remainder of the second quarter, including a sack on Cornelius by Patrick Levels to stymie another Edmonton drive.

Following the three-minute warning, Arbuckle connected once again with Behar, who fumbled the ball but recovered just shy of the Elks goal line.

On the next play, Evans scored his second touchdown of the night with a quarterback sneak from the one. Ward converted on the extra point to give the REDBLACKS a 17-point lead.

With less than a minute to go in the first half, the game saw dramatic momentum swings starting with an Avery Williams interception on a Cornelius pass. Edmonton then forced a fumble on Behar with a recovery by Matthew Thomas. The Elks would then fall short on a late end zone shot, followed by Ottawa’s special teams unit block on a 28-yard field goal attempt by Castillo to send the game into half time.

In the second half, the Lawler show continued when Cornelius found the Elks’ leading receiver on another deep ball and set up Edmonton for their first touchdown of the game – a four-yard run into the end zone by Cornelius. Castillo’s convert was good to bring the home team within 10 points.

Ottawa’s defence continued to apply pressure on the Elks deep in their own end and forced Edmonton to concede a safety and made it a 12-point game.

Lewis Ward 28-yard field goal padded the Ottawa lead by 15.

With Kyle Locksley in the game for the Elks, the quarterback kept to himself and ran to the Ottawa one-yard line on a third and two gamble. Cornelius launched himself across the line for his second rushing touchdown of the game. In a similar play to the major, Cornelius crossed the line again for the two-point convert.

In the final three minutes, the REDBLACKS stopped a surging Elks drive thanks to a strong defensive effort including a Cleyon Laing batted down pass and a big hit by Avery Williams on Derel Walker to force third down.

Edmonton brought its own defensive pressure that saw Enock Makonzo sack Arbuckle with less than 90 seconds left in the game.

With the late possession, Edmonton’s effort to tie the game fell short with a turnover on downs, for their fifth turnover on the night.

Next up for Ottawa is a date with the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night while Edmonton travels to Calgary on Monday, both games part of OK Tire Labour Day Week.

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