Redblacks Comeback to Force OT, But Ultimately Fall to Blue Bombers
Photo credit: Adrian Wyld (Canadian Press)
As always, the Redblacks and dramatic finishes seem to go hand in hand. Ottawa scored 15 points in the final five minutes of regulation to tie a game in which they had no business being in. The Redblacks’ late-game heroics ultimately fell short in overtime against the Blue Bombers, losing 40-32.
After a Winnipeg score to open OT, the Redblacks had a chance to match. Brad Sinopoli caught the ball at the Blue Bomber 11-yard line, looking to reach the endzone. The former Gee-Gee darted up field but was met by linebacker Adam Bighill. The ball was knocked loose and Winnipeg recovered the fumble to end the game.
Given the circumstances, it appeared the game would end in a Blue Bomber victory sooner than that. Two late Trevor Harris touchdowns forced overtime to put the Redblacks in a position to escape a lackluster performance with a win. First, there was a 33-yard lob to receiver Julian Feoli-Gudino for a score in which Winnipeg defensive back Kevin Fogg lost his footing.
Then, with 12 seconds remaining, Greg Ellingson caught both the touchdown pass and two-point conversion to even things up. Ellingson was fantastic on the game’s final drive with time running out. Harris finished the game with 349 yards passing and three touchdowns.
In the loss, kicker Lewis Ward rewrote the CFL history books. The rookie went 3/3 on field goal attempts against Winnipeg, extending his perfect streak to 40 straight and passing Rene Paredes for the longest field goal streak in CFL history. Ward still has not missed a field goal since the season-opener against the Roughriders.
The seldom-inefficient Blue Bomber quarterback Matt Nichols put up perhaps his best performance of the season. Nichols finished with a completion percentage of 75%, with 265 yards passing, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Nichols cashed-in in overtime with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Weston Dressler, in which Redblacks linebacker Anthony Cioffi was held up by the goal post, and a successful two-point conversion pass to Darvin Adams.
Adams totaled 72 yards receiving and a touchdown on the game while Dressler finished with two scores of his own.
The Blue Bomber offense was far from explosive but rolled on consistently throughout the game. They posted long drive after long drive and held the ball for nearly 13 minutes more than Ottawa. Winnipeg also scored on every offensive drive in the first half.
Winnipeg opened the game with a nearly seven-minute long drive that started at their own eight-yard line. That drive ended with a Justin Medlock field goal make. Medlock hit on all six of his attempts Friday night, accounting for 18 Winnipeg points.
Ottawa answered promptly with their first drive of the game. William Powell found space on a 48-yard run and then capped off the possession with an 8-yard touchdown reception. Sinopoli caught a short pass for the two-point conversion. The Redblacks did not find the endzone again until less than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Again, finishing drives with touchdowns was a problem for Ottawa for most of the game past that opening drive. The Redblacks offense finished with an impressive 455 yards on the night but often had trouble getting into any sort of sustainable rhythm.
The game featured the CFL’s top two rushers: running backs William Powell and Andrew Harris.
Harris and Powell were first and second respectively in the CFL in rushing yards last season. This season, they have reversed roles with Powell leading the way. Although Harris outgained Powell in the Winnipeg victory, finishing with 132 yards to Powell’s 95, the Ottawa feature back still holds a three-yard cushion for the league-lead.
Winnipeg found success in pressuring Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly a week ago and did so again this week against Ottawa. The pocket was hardly comfortable for Harris. He was sacked four times by the Blue Bomber pass-rush.
The Redblacks defense was ‘bend but don’t break’, which resulted in long drives where they could not get off the field. They were able to sack Nichols three times however and for the second game in a row, Anthony Cioffi forced a fumble that was recovered by AC Leonard. This time, taking advantage of Nic Demski.
Ottawa had the opportunity to clinch a home playoff game with a win but still could have it secured by the conclusion of the long weekend if Toronto loses on Monday to the Stampeders.
The Redblacks will head to Edmonton next Saturday for an early evening matchup with the Eskimos. It will be Ottawa’s fifth consecutive matchup against a West Division opponent before they play the Ti-Cats (twice) and Argonauts to closeout the regular season.