No starters? No matter. Redblacks tie Alouettes in final pre-season game
MONTREAL — It may have been just a pre-season game that finished in a 20-20 tie, but you can bet what happened on a beautiful Thursday night meant the world to a lot of Ottawa Redblacks hopefuls.
With the CFL’s roster cutdown near — the deadline is 10 p.m. on Saturday — the Redblacks rested most of their projected starters and got a long look at guys battling for roster spots, facing the Montreal Alouettes, who did play several of their starters.
“The thing I really liked about our group tonight, a lot of the guys are new to the CFL and new to the Redblacks, but they really kept competing and battling to the end,” said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell. “We are going to have some tough decisions to make and that’s a good thing.
“There are some good players here tonight, that’s part of the reason we left so many of the older guys at home. We wanted to give these guys a fair shot of playing a lot, not just a few series.”
Redblacks receiver Jacob Scarfone, one of those battling for a job, came up big with seven catches for 75 yards.
“There’s always pressure, that comes with the territory, but that’s the last thing you want to think about,” said Scarfone. “The whole offence was moving. We had a good game. But a couple of more plays, if we had finished, especially myself, then we would have come away with the W.”
The Alouettes scored on the opening drive when quarterback Antonio Pipkin found DeVier Posey streaking down the field alone, behind Jonathan Rose, near the right sideline for a 72-yard touchdown (43 yards after the catch). With the convert, it was 7-0 for the home side 1:50 into the game.
The Als added to their lead 6:15 into the quarter with a single point when a Boris Bede 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
The Redblacks answered with a long drive that was finished off when Will Arndt pushed straight ahead into the end zone for a touchdown. The drive started with a 30-yard pass-and-run to Wesley Lewis. Running back John Crockett made something out of nothing when Arndt flipped the ball to him and he scooted ahead for 12 yards. He then had a seven-yard run. A five-yard pass to Nate Behar got the first down. Then Arndt slung a pass toward DeVonte Dedmon, who nearly made a nice one-handed catch. Tommie Campbell was flagged for pass interference and Ottawa got the ball on the one, setting up Arndt’s TD run. The two-point convert attempt failed and it was 8-6 for Montreal.
After a roughing the passer call on Ottawa, Bede booted a 26-yard field goal and the Als led 11-6 with 9:54 remaining in the first half.
The Redblacks got a good drive going with a nine-yard catch by Marco Dubois, a nine-yard run by Crockett, a 13-yard catch by Dedmon and a six-yard catch by Jacob Scarfone. But it was stopped there with the Als choosing to take a holding penalty rather than put the Redblacks in a third-and-four situation. It worked and the Redblacks were forced to punt.
A Jose Maltos field goal made it 11-9 for Montreal with 2:08 left in the first half.
Getting into the game at QB for Montreal, Vernon Adams took his team to the end zone in two plays — both completions to Quan Bray, first for 48 yards, then 27 yards and a touchdown. All of a sudden, it was 18-9 for the Als, with 1:34 left in the first half.
Arndt found Dubois for a 30-yard gain, then Ryan Lankford for 12 yards. The drive was squashed on the next play when former Ottawa Gee-Gees defensive back Ty Cranston came up with an interception on a tipped ball.
Arndt wound up completing 16 of 23 passes for 184 yards.
“I was a little frustrated with some of the stuff we left out there, I’m hard on myself so I’m crushing myself on the little things I wish I’d picked up,” said Arndt. “But it was fun going out there and playing ball, I really enjoyed myself.”
Adams went to work with his feet. Evading a couple of tackles deep in his own end, he scampered for 17 yards, then ran for another 18 yards to push the Als to the Ottawa 42-yard line. The Als chose to punt rather than boot the field goal, getting a single as the ball bounced sideways out of the end zone.
Danny Collins was at quarterback for the Redblacks in the second half and tossed an interception 8:41 into the third quarter, a pass that was picked off by Marcellus Pippins.
After a nice gain by Scarfone (26 yards), Collins tried to dump the ball off as he was being sacked and threw it into the arms of Montreal’s Tevin Floyd, who took it 48 yards to the Ottawa 13-yard line. But the play was overturned and Collins was ruled down by contact. Completions to Tyrone Pierre, Behar and Anthony Gosselin set up a 26-yard field-goal attempt. Maltos missed and Ottawa got a single.
Crossan had a couple of nice gains — 17 yards on a swing pass from Collins, then an 11-yard run. But, again, the Redblacks went for a 26-yard field goal, this time it was good and it was 19-13.
A DeAndre Farris interception was wiped out by a roughing the passer penalty. But the Redblacks got a defensive touchdown when Jonathan Newsome scooped up a Jeff Mathews fumble (on a Randall Evans hit) and ran 61 yards for a touchdown.
SECOND AND LONG
Say what you want about the Alouettes — and I do believe the team can survive — there aren’t many better views in the CFL than what you get from the press box at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, an awesome look at the city’s skyline. Montreal remains in my top two of CFL cities to visit. Vancouver is the other … The Redblacks chose not ask Maltos to boot a field goal from 47 yards out. It worked out, a pass to Crockett got 15 yards and the first down … With Van Halen’s Eruption playing, fans were asked to play air guitar. C’mon Montreal, you gotta up that game a bit … The Redblacks open their regular season next Saturday in Calgary, a Grey Cup rematch.
THE END AROUND
DB Troy Stoudermire, who was released by the Redblacks earlier this week, has been added to the team’s injured list … Canadian rock group Monster Truck will perform live at halftime during the Redblacks’ June 20 home-opener vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders … Receiver/returner Ryan Lankford worked out a bit with punter Richie Leone during the off-season in Florida … Maltos stays in touch with family, his girlfriend and his dog (a 15-month-old mixed breed named Topo), back home in Mexico … Redblacks DB Ironhead Gallon went down late in the third quarter and limped off the field … Attendance was 13,474.