Grey Cup Bound: Redblacks Blowout Ti-Cats in Eastern Final to Reach Grey Cup

Photo credit: Patrick Doyle (CFL)

Sunday’s Eastern Final at TD Place was hardly a contest. The Ottawa Redblacks blew out the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 46-27 to punch their ticket to the 106th Grey Cup in Edmonton. It will be the Redblacks’ third Grey Cup appearance in the last four years, looking for championship number two in the modern era of Ottawa football.

Trevor Harris silenced all doubters in a history-making performance. He threw 29/32 for 367 yards and six touchdowns. The touchdown mark is a new CFL playoff-record. He completed a pass to 10 different Ottawa receivers. So much for #7 not being a big-game quarterback.

“It was working for us today,” said Harris. “Jaime [Elizondo] called an outstanding game. The O-line protected well and [Greg Ellingson], Brad [Sinopoli] and the receiving core was ready to play”.

After two early drives settling for field goal attempts, the offensive explosion begun in the second quarter. Harris threw three touchdowns in the second frame alone, two to Diontae Spencer and one to fullback J.C. Beaulieu. Both Spencer scores followed Ottawa takeaways.

Turnover differential has been huge for the Redblacks all season. Taking care of the football while forcing turnovers is winning football. They finished the regular season with a turnover differential of +9. Against the Ti-Cats in the Eastern Final, they forced three turnovers and gave away none.

Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli threw two interceptions in the first half and three overall. The two first half picks were poor decisions where Masoli chose to try and make tough throws while off-balance.  As a result, Anthony Cioffi and Jonathan Rose made him pay with easy interceptions.

Masoli, the East Division Nominee for Most Outstanding Player, finishes 2018 with five touchdowns and seven interceptions against the Redblacks. Not to mention, an 0-4 record.

The Redblacks have had a different leading receiver in all four games against Hamilton. In the Eastern Final, Greg Ellingson led the way with 144 yards and a touchdown. In previous games versus the Ti-Cats, it had been Brad Sinopoli, R.J. Harris and Diontae Spencer that had each led the Redblacks in receiving.

The Ellingson score was a long 50-yard touchdown catch and run that was eerily similar to the play he made in the 2015 Eastern Final against Hamilton, minus the late-game stakes at that point in the game.

Harris’ three second-half touchdowns to push the game into blowout territory went to Ellingson, Marco Dubois and Brendan Gillanders. The Gillanders touchdown was the first of his five-year CFL career.

The Redblacks were on the verge of finishing a pitch perfect first half, before corner Jonathan Rose let his emotions get the best of him. During a scuffle that broke out following a hard tackle by the Ti-Cat sideline, Rose shoved an official and was ejected from the game. The Redblacks will certainly be hoping that Rose will not be suspended for this Sunday’s Grey Cup.

The ensuing penalty gave Hamilton a great opportunity to get back in the game and they capitalized with a touchdown to Mike Jones as time expired in the opening half. It was the first touchdown for the Ti-Cats against Ottawa in 124 minutes of in-game time, stretching over three separate games. It could have been a momentum swing, but the Redblacks came back out in the second half and dominated once again.

For the Ti-Cats, receiver Bralon Addison played outstanding. The former second-stringer led Hamilton in receiving for the third game in a row, finishing with 129 receiving yards in the defeat.

“We can enjoy this for a couple of hours and then we move on. Flush this one, get it out of the way, and go win the important one,” said Harris, already looking ahead to the Grey Cup.

The Redblacks will face the winner of the Western Final (Calgary or Winnipeg) next Sunday in the 106th Grey Cup in Edmonton.