Ottawa REDBLACKS kick off Labor Day Weekend with win over Alouettes

MONTREAL — The Ottawa REDBLACKS kicked off the OK Tire Labour Day Weekend by commanding a road win over the Montreal Alouettes from Percival Molson Stadium on Friday night.

Making his second consecutive start as the REDBLACKS quarterback, Nick Arbuckle led his team to a 38-24 win over the East Division rivals. Arbuckle completed 20 of his 31 of his passing attempts, throwing for 313 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Ottawa receiver Jaelon Acklin was the leading receiver for his team as they topped Montreal, reeling in seven catches on 10 targets for 159 yards, average of 22.7 yards per catch in the performance. Receiver Darvin Adams contributed to the REDBLACKS win, adding four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown in the win on Friday evening.

The REDBLACKS defence was the deciding factor in their win over the Alouettes, forcing four turnovers from the Montreal offence in the game, including a forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Ottawa’s Davon Coleman in the Labour Day Weekend win.

» Box Score: REDBLACKS, Als by the numbers
» Through the Lens: Ottawa at Montreal
» Watch: REDBLACKS recover fumble for TD
» Acklin sets new career-high in Labour Day Weekend win

Montreal QB Trevor Harris tossing to WR Eugene Lewis Photo: The Canadian Press

Ottawa defensive lineman Lorenzo Mauldin was apparently eagerly awaiting the opening kickoff and it showed. On the opening drive for the REDBLACKS’ defence, Mauldin knifed his way into the Montreal backfield to bring Walter Fletcher down for a loss. He then worked his way through the Montreal offensive line for a sack on Trevor Harris, forcing the Alouettes to punt on their first offensive series.

The REDBLACKS would manage to find the game’s first points with their opening drive of the game, a 12-play drive that took nearly seven minutes off the game-clock. Facing a second and very long, Arbuckle managed to escape the pressure of Montreal’s pass-rush for an 18-yard gain, extending the first Ottawa offensive drive of the game.

However, the Alouettes defence would hold as they forced the Ottawa quarterback to throw an incompletion on a second down attempt from the Montreal 12-yard line.

The incompletion would force the REDBLACKS to bring out kicker Lewis Ward for his first attempted field goal of the game. The Ottawa kicker wasted no time as he converted on the 19-yard attempt to give his team an early three-point lead.

Montreal would match the field goal from Ottawa with their second drive of the game. Once it again it was Ottawa’s Mauldin who would force the Alouettes drive to come to a stop as he knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage on a second down passing attempt from Montreal’s Trevor Harris.

The Alouettes would call on kicker David Cote to attempt the team’s first points of the game, Cote had no trouble as he connected on the 33-yard attempt, evening the game at 3-3 nearing the end of the first quarter.

Montreal’s Fletcher started the quarter with back-to-back runs of 11 and 17 yards before Jeshrun Antwi broke lose for a 27-yard gain. Harris would go on to connect with rookie reciever Tyson Philpot for a 38-yard pick up to give the Alouettes an opportunity in the scoring zone.

Standing on the Ottawa eight-yard line with an opportunity to score following the completion to Philpot, Montreal wasted no time as Harris completed a swing pass to Lewis, which he took eight-yards into the end zone for his fourth score of 2022, giving his team an early 10-3 lead.

Despite having to punt with their first offensive possession of the second quarter, the REDBLACKS would still manage a response to Montreal’s early score.

Ottawa’s defence managed to collapse the pocket on Harris, forcing him to roll out of the pocket to evade a sack. However, on the escape attempt Kene Onyeka force a fumble on Harris, which Ottawa’s Coleman managed to recover and return seven yards for  REDBLACKS defensive score, evening the game.

On the ensuing offensive drive for the Alouettes, Harris was looking to make up for the fumble through the air. However, Ottawa defensive back Abdul Kanneh has different plans, as he stayed patient in coverage before timing an interception on a pass from Harris perfectly, giving his offence the ball back.

Nearing the end of the first half, Arbuckle found Acklin for his fifth catch of the night, a 64-yard grab to put him over 100 yards before the end of the game’s opening half.

The big gainer from Acklin would set up back-to-back completion to Devonte Williams for 24-yards, putting his team on the Montreal three-yard line.

Within striking distance, Arbuckle would deliver a beautiful pass to Darvin Adams in the back of the end zone for his first touchdown pass as a member of the REDBLACKS, helping his team take a one-score lead before the end of the first half. Capping off a six-play 100-yard scoring drive that took just over one-minute and 25 seconds.

With their first drive of the game’s second half the Alouettes were looking to even the score. But, as Harris was looking ot push the ball downfield through the air, Ottawa’s Ranthony Texada undercut a pass for Lewis, for Ottawa’s second interception of the game.

Montreal would manage to limit the damage from the Texada interception as they forced Ottawa to settle for a field goal to open the game’s second half. Ottawa’s Ward was brought back out to attempt a 15-yard field goal, which he converted with ease to give Ottawa a 21-10 lead to start the third quarter.

The Alouettes would find their first points of the new half on the leg of Cote. A five play drive from Montreal was highlighted by a long field goal from the Als kicker. Cote was called upon to attempt a long range kicker, as the product from Laval university made good on a 44-yard attempt to bring his team within seven points of their East Division counterparts.

Ottawa would manage to extend their lead on a 32-yard field goal make from Ward. The scoring driv from the REDBLACKS was headlined by consecutive completions to Acklin for 55 yards. The two completions to the Ottawa pass-catcher would push him over 150 yards receiving in the game in just three quarters of action.

Montreal looked like they might be mounting a scoring drive, but a forced incompletion from Ottawa defensive back Patrick Levels would force the Alouettes to attempt a field goal. Cote would bring his team to within one-score as he connected on a 26-yard attempt to make it a 24-16 lead in favour of the REDBLACKS nearing the end of the third.

Already credited with a forced fumble in the game, Ottawa defensive lineman Kene Onyeka would be credited with a fumble recovery as REDBLACKS defnsive back Alonzo Addae jarred the ball loose from Montreal’s Antwi to open the game’s final frame of action.

Following the forced turnover from the REDBLACKS defence, Arbuckle was seemingly feeling confident as he took a deep shot and completed the 31-yard pass intended for Adams.

Follwing the ong completion to Adams, the Ottawa offence had possession of the ball in the Montreal score zone, but could not capitalize with a touchdown. Ottawa once again brought out Ward to attempt a field, which he converted from from 15-yards away pushing his team’s lead to 28-16 to start the fourth quarter.

The REDBLACKS would manage to extend their lead in late in the fourth quarter of action Friday. Ottawa quarterback Caleb Evans would find the end zone for the first time in the game, as he surged forward for Ottawa to score a goal line touchdown on a quarterback sneak with just over two minutes remaining in the game.

Montreal would add a late score from reciver Jake Wieneke, for his first touchdown of the 2022 season, but unfortunately it would come too late as the REDBLACKS would earn a win and pull within two points of Montreal in the East standings.

Looking ahead to next week, the REDBLACKS will be looking for a third consecutive victory as they take on the Toronto Argonauts in an East Division battle from the nation’s capital next Saturday. While the Alouettes will be in search of redemption as they host the BC Lions from Percival Molson Stadium to kick off Week 14.

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