Ottawa REDBLACKS overcome Alouettes in Thanksgiving Monday win

MONTREAL — Bob Dyce earned his first win as the Ottawa REDBLACKS interim head coach to close out the CFL’s Thanksgiving weekend presented by Purolator.

The REDBLACKS earned a thrilling 24-18 win over the East Division rival Montreal Alouettes on the holiday Monday. Caleb Evans scored two goal line touchdowns in the game, including a fourth-quarter score that would help to swing the momentum in favour of the REDBLACKS.

Ottawa’s Nick Arbuckle had an impressive day through the air completing 87.5 per cent of his passes for 229 yards, while leading the crucial drives that would allow Evans to find the end zone. Justin Hardy was the team’s leading receiver reeling in 11 of his 13 targets for 79 yards in the contest.

THANKSGIVING WEEKEND presented by Purolator
» Box Score: REDBLACKS, Als by the numbers
Through the Lens: Ottawa at Montreal
» Dyce earns first win as REDBLACKS interim head coach
Watch: Arbuckle airs it out

The Alouettes were first to open the scoring in the game. With their second possession of the opening quarter, a 20-yard gain from Walter Fletcher and a 17-yard completion to Hergy Mayala put the Montreal offence on the Ottawa 21-yard-line.

However, an Ottawa defensive stand would force the Als to call upon David Cote to attempt his first field goal of the game. Despite a near-fumble on the hold, Cote still managed to get the kick off, converting the 16-yard attempt and giving his team the early lead.

The REDBLACKS responded to the Montreal field goal with a big-play nearing the end of the first quarter. Arbuckle stood in the pocket and took a big hit as he connected with Darvin Adams for a 40-yard completion. A five-yard completion to Jaelon Acklin with no time left on the clock in the first quarter helped put his team on the Montreal goal line.

Evans opened the second quarter under centre for the REDBLACKS and surged forward for the short-yardage touchdown. Scoring his 11th rushing touchdown this season and giving Ottawa a 7-3 lead.

Ottawa’s defence continued the momentum from the first quarter, forcing Montreal to punt with their opening drive of the second frame. Als punter Joseph Zema sent a punt deep towards DeVonte Dedmon. In a rare occurrence Dedmon couldn’t track the punt and fumbled the return attempt. Montreal would recover the loose ball inside of the Ottawa 20-yard line, giving their offence an excellent opportunity to score.

The REDBLACKS would limit the damage following the turnover, the defensive unit forced a two-and-out from the Als offence as they called on their field goal unit for the second time in the game. Cote split the uprights with a 25-yard attempt, pulling Montreal within one-point.

With under three minutes remaining in the first half of action the Alouettes had possession in the Ottawa red zone with an opportunity to overtake the lead. The Alouettes offence didn’t waste the possession as Trevor Harris stepped up into the pocket and delivered a 15-yard strike to Eugene Lewis, capping off a seven-play scoring drive.

Montreal would opt to attempt the two-point conversion, it appeared as if Harris had receiver Kaion Julien-Grant open in the end zone, but Harris sent the pass careening off of the uprights for an incompletion as the Als assumed a 12-7 lead.

With just under 90-seconds to play until halftime, Montreal’s Tyrice Beverette forced a fumble on Ottawa’s William Powell to give his team possession of the ball from the Ottawa 35-yard-line.

Ottawa’s defence would again hold the Als out of the end zone following a turnover, but they would still manage points as Montreal called on their kicker for a third time in the first half. Cote delivered as he converted the 14-yard field goal, helping his team take a one-score lead into the half.

The REDBLACKS would strike first to open the second half of action, calling on kicker Lewis Ward to attempt his first field goal of the game. Ward had no trouble with the kick as he made the 28-yard attempt, closing the gap on the Montreal lead.

Nearing the midway point in the third quarter, Beverette would seemingly come up with another big-play for his team’s defence. The Montreal linebacker picked up a fumble that was forced by Adarius Pickett, returning it 65 yards.

However, an unnecessary roughness call on Micah Awe negated the fumble and gave Ottawa a new set of downs. Ottawa’s Acklin would leave the game and not return following the play.


Despite receiving an extension on their drive, Ottawa would be held out of the end zone as they called on Ward for the second time in as many drives. The kicker lined up a 30-yard attempt and split the uprights, pulling his team to within two-points of the Montreal lead.

Late in the third quarter, Montreal’s Harris dropped back looking to put the ball in the air, but the Ottawa pass-rush forced Harris to try to escape. REDBLACKS defensive lineman Avery Williams forced a fumble from Harris that Antoine Pruneau would recover, giving his team an opportunity to regain the lead.

Arbuckle helped drive the REDBLACKS offence down the field completing four of his five attempts. Evans converted a short yardage third-down to give his team fresh set of downs in the red zone. Four plays later Evans converted on the goal line for his second score of the game.

Ottawa would choose to attempt the two-point convert and the decision paid off as Arbuckle completed a pass to Justin Hardy giving his team a 21-15 lead to open the final quarter of action.

Needing a response, Harris completed five consecutive passes to set the Alouettes offence up on the Ottawa 13-yard line. Facing a second-and-10, the Als pivot fired a pass intended for Mayala, but the ball fell incomplete and Montreal was forced to call on their kicker for a fourth time on the afternoon. Cote made good on a 14-yard attempt, pulling his team to within three points of the Ottawa lead.

With under two minutes remaining in the game the REDBLACKS offence were within striking distance once again. Evans was under centre to attempt to convert a second-and-long for the Ottawa offence but was held short of the first down marker.

Forced to call on Ward for the time of the half, Ottawa’s kicker stayed consistent as he struck a 25-yard attempt, pushing the REDBLACKS’ lead back to six points.

With one final drive for an attempt at the comeback win, Harris completed a crucial second-down pass to Jake Weineke to give the Montreal offence the ball at the Ottawa 25-yard line. Facing a third-down with ten seconds remaining, Harris was forced into a quick throw by the Ottawa pass-rush, Tyson Philpot couldn’t get a handle on the ball as it fell incomplete, sealing the REDBLACKS win.

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