SportsControversial coaching decision costs Redblacks late against Stampeders

Controversial coaching decision costs Redblacks late against Stampeders

Controversial coaching decision costs Redblacks late against Stampeders

Photo courtesy of CFL


The points were few and the play was physical but it was a late coaching decision that had fans talking after the Ottawa Redblacks’ latest defeat.

Ottawa fell 17-16 to the Calgary Stampeders Thursday night at TD Place. It is Ottawa’s fourth straight loss, making it the worst losing streak in franchise history.

Ottawa was up 16-12 with a minute left in the fourth quarter. Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell elected to give up a safety (and the two points that go with it) to get better punting position instead of punting directly out of his own endzone. Calgary subsequently drove down the field and nailed the game-winning field goal.

Without the safety given up, the Stampeders would have needed to score a touchdown to win the game. After the loss, Campbell explained his decision and the rationale behind it.

“I was debating on that one. I was thinking we were going to have to defend about 30 yards of field position either way,” said Campbell. “I’ll definitely look at it and re-evaluate. It didn’t work out so it wasn’t the right decision but I’m not too stubborn or too proud. I will look at it and make sure I do whatever I can to give this football team the best chance to win.”

“Either way, we had to make a stop and we didn’t,”

The late collapse overshadowed a jaw dropping defensive play by Corey Tindal on the prior drive. With Calgary down four and needing a touchdown, Stampeder wide receiver Richard Sindani caught the ball and dove for the endzone. A mere yard away, Tindal dove and punched the ball out of Sindani’s hand. It seemed to be the game-saving play at the time.

The game was a slugfest between two physical and unrelenting defences. The Ottawa defence and special teams units in particular carried the load for the Redblacks Thursday night. They forced five Calgary turnovers and kept the Stamps out of the endzone entirely.

Defensive lineman JR Tavai hit home twice with two sacks, including this raucous forced fumble that helped setup an Ottawa field goal.

Ottawa kicker Lewis Ward hit all three of his field goal attempts, including a 53-yarder, and Devonte Dedmon provided a 53-yard kick return to open the game.

Brad Sinopoli has been surprisingly quiet for much of the season so far but he came alive in the second half to help get the Ottawa offence out of its rut. He had five second-half receptions and scored the Redblacks’ only touchdown of the game. It was also their first offensive touchdown in seven quarters.

As he is one to do, Sinopoli found a soft spot in the defence over the middle and scored the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter. It was the first touchdown of the season for Sinopoli and a nicely placed ball from quarterback Jonathon Jennings.

Jennings started once again for an injured Dominique Davis. He threw two first half interceptions on poorly thrown balls but was marginally better in the second half when he started prioritizing Sinopoli. The touchdown throw to Sinopoli was the first passing touchdown by a Redblacks quarterback in five weeks. Jennings finished with only 125 passing yards though.

Both teams’ offences struggled in the first half. It was tied 9-9 at halftime with a combination of six giveaways between the two clubs. The Redblacks had a grand total of two first downs in the first half, one of which was due to a Calgary penalty.

It was Calgary mistakes really that even gave Ottawa a chance at victory. Along with four giveaways, they tallied 98 penalty yards. Ottawa was only penalized for 15.

The game-winning field goal was Rene Paredes fifth field goal make of the night. He accounted for 15/17 Stampeder points.

John Crockett was once again a highlight for the Redblacks offence, after losing a fumble on his first carry of the game. Against a tough Calgary front, Crockett ran angry. He put up 84 well-earned yards on the ground.

Despite not reaching the endzone, Calgary quarterback Nick Arbuckle was dealing through the air. He ended up with 30 completions and 370 yards passing.

With Bo Levi Mitchell and Don Jackson out since week three, he has formed a second string backfield that has looked anything but. Running back Ka’Deem Carey averaged 7.8 yards per carry with 70 yards rushing. The Stamps are 3-1 since Carey and Arbuckle were forced into the starting lineup.

Quick Notes:

  • It was Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night at TD Place. There was a flyover from a CH146 Griffon helicopter before kickoff
  • Lewis Ward’s perfect field goal streak is now up to 64 straight
  • Former Carleton Raven Justin Howell made his first start of the season at safety and looked comfortable, notching five tackles
  • It was a chippy affair between the two teams, with countless scuffles and shoving matches occurring between plays
  • Global receiver Guillermo Villalobos (Mexico) was active for the first time this season for the Redblacks. He was taken in the second round of this year’s first ever CFL-LFA Draft

The Redblacks will travel to Montreal next weekend for a Friday matchup with the Alouettes.

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