Ottawa RedBlacks reclaim lead in CFL East with win over Montreal Alouettes

MONTREAL — The Ottawa REDBLACKS’ offense did not miss a beat without star quarterback Trevor Harris, handing the Montreal Alouettes their fifth-straight loss in a 29-11 victory at Percival Molson Stadium on Sunday. Ottawa now holds first place in the East after the win.

Quarterback Drew Tate made his first start for Ottawa, and was effective until being forced from the game near the end of the first half with an injury. Running back William Powell led the way for the REDBLACKS after the half, and finished the day with an impressive 144 rushing yards on 25 carries.

Diontae Spencer easily had the play of the game, taking a missed Boris Bede field goal the distance for an incredible 113-yard return touchdown.

Quarterback Drew Willy had some success moving the ball after taking over for Montreal on offense, but in the end it was not enough to overcome the early deficit.

The opening possession for Tate and the REDBLACKS’ offense could not have gone much better. Tate came out looking sharp and efficient in his first start with the REDBLACKS, completing nine of 11 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive.

The impressive 85-yard drive was capped off with beautiful 16-yard catch and run by fullback Patrick Lavoie for the early touchdown. Tate completed the ensuing two-point convert to receiver Jake Harty, giving Ottawa the early 8-0 lead.

The REDBLACKS continued to move down the field on their next drive, with Tate spreading the ball around to numerous receivers. But Ottawa’s second offensive drive was cut short when Alouettes defensive back Jonathon Mincy brilliantly jumped a route and intercepted an errant Tate pass.

The Alouettes started out slow on offence, and were unable to capitalize on the turnover. Ottawa’s defensive front frustrated quarterback Darian Durant with pressure, including a sack from defensive end Jonathan Newsome.

It was special teams that appeared to spark momentum for Montreal in the opening quarter. Return ace Stefan Logan showed off his skills on an exciting 28-yard return, making his way up the sideline before being ruled out of bounds. But the drive did not progress from there, as Durant was unable to find a window in the Ottawa secondary. Kicker Boris Bede knocked through the 43-yard field goal to put Montreal on the board.

The Alouettes’ defence stood strong for a while after surrendering the early touchdown drive, holding Tate and the REDBLACKS to a 30-yard field goal from kicker Brett Maher.

Ottawa QB Drew Tate completed 21 of 29 passes before leaving with an injury Photo: Peter McCable

Drew Willy took over at quarterback for Montreal after the offense failed to generate anything in the first quarter and a half. The change seemed to inject some life into the Als’ offence, as Willy completed his first two passes and found receiver Ernest Jackson for the team’s opening first down of the game.

But just when it appeared that Montreal was going to add to their score, a 54-yard field goal attempt by Bede fell short of the target and ended up in the waiting hands of Ottawa’s Diontae Spencer. Spencer turned on the jets and found daylight, taking the ball the length of the field for a 113-yard return touchdown.

The score was the second return touchdown for Spencer on the season, and the first allowed by Montreal this year. Tate successfully completed the two-point convert to receiver Greg Ellingson, and Ottawa later added to their lead with a dead ball single.

Things took an unfortunate turn for the Ottawa offense on their next drive, as Tate was forced to leave the game after taking a hit from Montreal defensive back Dondre Wright. Quarterback Ryan Lindley came in to run the REDBLACKS’ offence, but his first career CFL pass was intercepted in the end zone by Montreal’s Tevaughn Campbell.

Campbell went back into the end zone where he was tackled after already running the ball out, resulting in a safety that brought the score to 22-3.

Ottawa’s offense stepped up and managed to keep things moving despite losing Tate to injury. Lindley and the offensive unit made their way down the field and added to their lead with a 22-yard Maher field goal.

Willy remained in the game for Montreal after the half, and the decision to keep him in paid off when the quarterback led a six-play 75-yard scoring drive for the Als in the third quarter.

Running back Tyrell Sutton gave Montreal some momentum when he took the ball directly up the middle for a 43-yard run before being tackled near the goal line. Willy finished off the drive with a one-yard QB sneak touchdown and added a successful two-point convert pass to receiver Tiquan Underwood, bringing the score to 25-11.

With Tate out of the game, the REDBLACKS’ offence turned to their rushing attack to sustain drives and take time off the clock. Running back William Powell took charge and led the way in the second half, breaking tackles and gaining tough yards to keep Willy and the Montreal offence off the field.

Powell gained chunks of yardage every time he touched the ball, and his efforts led to a 31-yard Maher field goal with under 10 minutes to go in the game. Maher later added another point to Ottawa’s lead after sending a ball through the end zone for the single, putting the REDBLACKS up 29-11.

The Alouettes will head to Toronto to take on the Argonauts next week, while the REDBLACKS will head to Winnipeg for a matchup with the Blue Bombers.


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