Redblacks Look Flat in Upset Loss to Alouettes

Photo credit: The Canadian Press

The Redblacks were stunned Friday night in a 21-11 upsetting loss to the last-place Montreal Alouettes. Whether or not there was rust coming off the bye week, the Ottawa offense looked out of sorts all night.

Trevor Harris threw the ball all over the field in the last two matchups against the Alouettes, but not this time. Montreal was consistently in the Ottawa backfield, forcing three sacks and numerous inaccurate throws from Harris. The Redblacks offense stalled on second down throughout the game and failed to score a touchdown.

“I missed some throws that I typically never miss. They’re a good defense, credit to them, but I have to be better,” said Harris.

The game’s turning point came early in the third quarter. Following a Justin Rose interception that set the Redblacks up deep in Alouette territory, Ottawa was poised to strike and take their first lead of the game.

Brad Sinopoli was able to break free and find space all alone in the endzone. Harris threw a low but catchable ball that Sinopoli had to go to the ground to receive. Sinopoli appeared to make the catch and give the Redblacks a much-needed momentum swing.

The Ottawa receiver bounced up from the turf to celebrate the score. Despite their inconsistent play in the first half, the Redblacks were an extra point away from gaining a 12-10 lead.

The celebration was short lived. Following a review by the CFL’s replay centre, the call was overturned and the throw was deemed incomplete. Two plays later, the Redblacks were forced into a field goal.

“We didn’t get it done tonight. We had chances multiple times to make plays,” said Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell after the game. “That’s what football comes down to – finding ways to makes plays in key moments.”

The very next drive, the Alouettes scored a one-yard quarterback sneak to increase their lead and the Montreal defense was able to closeout the game from there.

Montreal had the least time of possession in the CFL heading into the week. On Friday night, they held the ball on offense for almost 13 minutes more than Ottawa. Dead last in the CFL in almost every measurable offensive category, the Alouettes also outgained the Redblacks 398 yards to 328 on the night.

Montreal quarterback Antonio Pipkin led the way both through the air and on the ground. Apart from two bad decisions that resulted in interceptions, the young quarterback was decisive in the pocket and elusive when he was forced to leave it. Pipkin threw for 242 yards and ran for 75.

Not only is Pipkin the sixth Montreal quarterback to see starting time already this season, but he was actually released by the Alouettes back in training camp. Last week against the Argos, he became the first quarterback in Alouettes’ history to pass for more than 300 yards while rushing for two touchdowns.

Pipkin is now 2-1 as the Alouettes’ starting quarterback. B.J. Cunningham was Pipkin’s go-to guy against the Redblacks. He finished with 107 yards, 45 of it after the catch.

William Powell received only nine carries in the game, picking up 50 yards on the ground. The Redblacks were driving late in the fourth quarter with a chance to get within one score. From the three-yard line, Ottawa elected not to give the CFL’s second-leading rusher the ball. The offense opted to throw three straight plays, all incompletions.

The Redblacks defense did their part, forcing field goal attempts in the first half and sacking Pipkin five times in the game. Greg Ellingson stood out for the offense. Ellingson caught eight balls for 114 yards.

Montreal’s come-from-behind win last week against Toronto was their first comeback victory in 24 games. Now they have their first two-game win streak since the 2016 season. With the second half of the season now underway, Montreal is trying to march its way back into the East division’s playoff conversation.

Ottawa will try to get back on track next Friday when they travel to BC for a matchup with the Lions. It will mark the first of five straight games for the Redblacks against West division opponents.