Redblacks Dominate Roughriders in Home Opener

Photo credit: Patrick Doyle/CFL Redblacks 

The Redblacks are off to a running start in the 2018 CFL season. After sitting out last week with a bye, Ottawa kicked off week two with a dominant 40-17 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It was a rematch of the 2017 Eastern Semi-Final, a game in which the Roughriders won at TD Place.

Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris shone in his 2018 debut, throwing for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was quite the different story for the Roughriders starting quarterback.

After an efficient performance in Saskatchewan’s week one win over the Argos (203 yards, 1 TD), Zach Collaros was inconsistent in the first half against Ottawa before being forced from the game. Collaros suffered big hits early and was forced into the team’s concussion protocol. Brandon Bridge took over quarterbacking duties for the remainder of the game. The Roughriders struggled in pass protection all night long and landed both of their quarterbacks in hot water.

With increased pass rush pressure, Bridge and Collaros threw a combined three interceptions. That included a pick by Jonathan Rose that was returned for an Ottawa touchdown. The Redblacks defense only had 11 interceptions as a team all season long in 2017.

“The big thing was creating those turnovers. That’s kind of what we had been missing last year,” said Ottawa Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell. “Good on our players on stepping up and making big plays when they needed to be made.”

Duron Carter and Naaman Roosevelt (both 2017 Western All-Stars) would usually present a tremendous task as a wide receiver tandem for the Roughriders, but were broken up for last night’s matchup. Despite averaging over 100 yards receiving per game against the Redblacks last season, Carter was forced to start on defense in place of injured defensive back Nick Marshall.

Redblacks fans perhaps thought they had caught a break with the electric receiving threat out of position, but Carter still found a way to impact the game in the first half. Early in the second quarter, Carter dove to intercept an errant Trevor Harris pass, which he then returned for a defensive touchdown. The first half spotlight belonged to the trash-talking Carter, but the Redblacks exposed the part-time defender in the third quarter. Ottawa slotback Diontae Spencer, who had been jawing with Carter throughout the game, blazed by him for a 56-yard catch and run touchdown.

“All he was doing was talking,” said Spencer on the intense matchup between the two stars. “All he does is feed the media punch lines.”

Ottawa outscored Saskatchewan 15-3 in the second half and closed the game out with ease. After the three other East teams lost their season openers last week, Ottawa finds themselves momentarily in first place of the division with a record of 1-0.

The Redblacks will travel to Calgary next week for a matchup against the Stampeders on Thursday night.