REDBLACKS storm back to stun Montreal Alouettes in season finale

MONTREAL — Rookie quarterback Caleb Evans engineered a late game-winning touchdown drive as the Ottawa REDBLACKS came back to stun the Montreal Alouettes with a 19-18 win on Friday night at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

Montreal (7-7) led 18-11 at the three-minute warning, but a fumble by running back Jeshrun Antwi gave the REDBLACKS (3-11) a late opportunity.

Evans cut Montreal’s lead down to a single point in the final minute by capping off an 89-yard drive with a one-yard rushing score, and he gave Ottawa the win one play later by connecting with R.J. Harris for the two-point conversion with eleven seconds left.

As a result of the loss, Montreal will face Hamilton on the road in the Eastern Semi-Final on Nov. 28 at Tim Hortons Field.

Evans finished with 173 passing yards and 56 rushing yards, including a pair of touchdowns on the ground.

Timothy Flanders led Ottawa with 62 rushing yards and 67 receiving yards — highlighted by a late 39-yard screen catch on the game-winning drive.

Ottawa linebacker Avery Williams finished with a sack and the late forced fumble that set the stage for the comeback.

Montreal pivot Trevor Harris completed 20 of 26 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns to Jake Wieneke, who had his best performance since Week 11 with 79 yards on five catches. He now leads the league with a career-high 11 receiving touchdowns.

» Through the Lens: REDBLACKS at Alouettes
» Boxscore: Als, REDBLACKS by the numbers
» Watch: Wieneke scores 2 spectacular TDs in 1st half

Ottawa got on the board first with a 44-yard field goal by Lewis Ward in the opening quarter, which Evans helped set up with a 15-yard run.

A highlight-reel catch by Dante Absher gave Montreal offensive momentum later in the quarter, and it was originally ruled an incompletion before a challenge by Khari Jones overturned the call. Absher made the 23-yard leaping grab in tight coverage against Ranthony Texada and somehow managed to tap his foot down before falling out of bounds.

But the drive stalled two plays later after Harris was sacked by Williams for a seven-yard loss, forcing Montreal to settle for a 44-yard field goal by David Côté to tie the game entering the second quarter.

The Als’ defence forced a quick two-and-out on the ensuing drive after Almondo Sewell sacked Evans, and CFL rushing leader William Stanback proceeded to set up a 47-yard go-ahead field goal by Côté with some tough runs up the middle.

The Als got the ball back after another quick Ottawa punt, and their offence capitalized with a three-play touchdown drive. Harris got things started with a 14-yard strike to Quan Bray, and Stanback followed it up with an 11-yard run while powering past multiple defenders.

Harris capped the drive off with a 14-yard touchdown toss to Wieneke, who bounced off a tackle attempt before spinning around and accelerating to the pylon. The Als failed to add the two-point conversion after Harris’ pass attempt to Wieneke fell incomplete.

But Wieneke wasn’t finished in the first half, as the receiver added a 21-yard touchdown catch in the final minute. Wieneke beat Frankie Griffin with a sharp route out of the slot before going up high to secure the grab in the endzone. Wieneke also had an 18-yard catch on the drive.

Côté’s extra point attempt went wide, leaving Montreal with an 18-3 lead entering halftime.

Ottawa’s defence gave the team a spark to start the third quarter when Justin Howell stripped the ball away from Antwi. Davon Coleman recovered the fumble for Ottawa to set the offence up at Montreal’s 36-yard line.

Evans made the most of the solid field position by quickly leading the REDBLACKS down the field for their first major. He broke free for a 14-yard run to move the chains on second down, and he finished the drive one play later with a one-yard rushing touchdown.

Evans added the two-point conversion with a strike to Harris, cutting Montreal’s lead down to just seven points.

Montreal looked to be moments away from extending the lead in the game’s final minutes with the ball inside Ottawa territory, but Williams spoiled the promising drive by forcing a fumble on Antwi that was recovered once again by Coleman.

Flanders moved the ball inside Montreal’s 20-yard line with a 39-yard screen pass, and he followed it up with a six-yard run to set up first-and-goal.

Evans capped the drive off on the final opportunity two plays later with another one-yard rushing touchdown, stretching the ball out over the goal line. He completed seven of eight passes on the drive.

Head coach Paul LaPolice then opted to go for the win, and Evans rose to the occasion by finding Harris for the game-winning two-point conversion.

Montreal will now prepare for the Eastern Semi-Final on the road against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Nov. 28 at 1 p.m. ET, while Ottawa heads into the off-season on a high note after snapping a six-game losing skid.

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