Ottawa Redblacks will take the win, but sloppy offence needs to take huge step ahead
Escaping Montreal’s Percival Molson Memorial Stadium with a win Friday night involved the Ottawa Redblacks pulling a rabbit out of a hat and a horseshoe out of their rear ends – it was quite the magic act.
The 30-27 overtime win probably shouldn’t have unfolded the way it did. But like they did in Game 1 in Calgary, the Redblacks hung tough, then made the big plays when needed. It’s what good football teams do, though the Redblacks have a long way to go to become that.
Thanks to the heroics of speedy punt/kickoff returner DeVonte Dedmon, who twice scooted through the arms of Alouettes to find the end zone – with touchdown runs of 111 yards on a kickoff and an incredible 95-yarder where he fought off tackles to stay on his feet – the Redblacks scuffled to an important victory.
The win was thanks largely to a great special teams effort, with some timely and huge defensive plays sprinkled in. After sleeping through much of the first three quarters, QB Dominique Davis and the offence woke up and finally did some damage.
“We have to figure it out,” said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell. “We have to keep working. We have to find a way to put some wins in the win column. This league is so crazy as far as parity goes, from one week to the next, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s safe to say we’re not playing our best football, but we’re going to show we can hang with people. If we can find ways to get better, we’ll have a chance.
“We play these guys one more time at the end of the year, this makes it a tiebreaker scenario. It was good to get back in the win column, a lot of people in this league are really close.”
The offence has a long way to go. Davis had 164 yards passing (he had less than 100 going into the final 15 minutes)- he connected on 20-of-34 attempts – but there were too many misfires, some dropped passes, fumbled snaps and two interceptions. It wasn’t all on him. Again, there seemed to be a disconnect – sometimes he was like a cop directing traffic while his teammates tried to find where they were supposed to be.
“That’s what teams do, they win by any means possible,” said Davis shortly after Friday’s marathon had ended. “It’s a great testimony to our team. Good teams win games by any means. It’s not always pretty, you just have to find a way to win. We did some good things. It’s a big relief, it’s a huge win. The guys on the sideline kept the energy, we stayed together and we played the game until the last play. Anything happen as long as you stick together.”
What shouldn’t be lost is that Ottawa lost the Time of Possession battle by a whopping 36:34-23:26. Thanks to Dedmon, it was enough Friday. It won’t work most other weeks.
Dedmon had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the pre-season, but got injured a week later. He recently returned to Ottawa’s lineup and showed he can be a difference maker on a team that doesn’t have enough of those difference makers.
His 111-yard kickoff return was the longest ever for a player with an Ottawa CFL team. The record had been Vic Washington’s 107-yard touchdown in 1969.
Asked about his touchdowns, Dedmon said: “I just had great blocking from my teammates.”
Said Campbell: “The returns were obviously a huge part of the game, you don’t see it real often what that guy did. The thing that was really impressive on that second return, that wasn’t just talent, that was a determined guy that wasn’t going to go down – he was going to find a way to get into the end zone and he did it.”
The win may be just what the Redblacks need to provide some momentum going forward. After winning the first two games of the regular season, Ottawa had lost four straight. Up next is a date with the Edmonton Eskimos. With a 3-4 record, the Redblacks are in third place in the East Division, two wins behind Hamilton and one in the loss column behind Montreal.
“We got the win, that’s most important,” said Dedmon. “All week long, we said we had to get this one. We owed them one (Montreal beat Ottawa 36-19 three weeks ago at TD Place). That fourth-quarter drive, it showed what our team really has. We don’t give up, we don’t quit.”
Kicker Lewis Ward was also a factor in the win, booting three field goals – including a 30-yarder in the final seconds of regulation time and 14-yarder to win it in overtime.
“They’re all pretty important, but that win was pretty special,” said Ward. “They got us last time, we got them this time. It’s huge. Momentum’s huge. We were in a bit of a slump. Keep stacking those wins up and we’ll keep rolling.”
Turnovers were costly for Ottawa against Montreal. But the defence bailed out the guys on the other side of the ball. Mike Wakefield had a timely interception and De’Andre Montgomery came up with a game-ending interception, killing the Alouettes’ hopes.
THE REPORT CARD
Some fourth-quarter (and overtime) performances saved a failing grade. Something is off and the Redblacks need to fix it. QB Dominique Davis (returning from a two-week injury absence) was shaky through the first three quarters, but the team rallied around him. Davis completed 20 passes for 164 yards and threw two interceptions. John Crockett rushed 16 times for 71 yards.
They bent, but they didn’t break. While the offence was coughing up the ball and giving up field position, the defence held tough. An interception by Mike Wakefield and fumble recovery by De’Andre Montgomery couldn’t have come at better times. They held Montreal QBs Vernon Adams and Antonio Pipkin to 177 yards passing.
Special Teams A+
Two touchdowns – a punt and a kickoff return taken to the house by DeVonte Dedmon? Outstanding. Dedmon was electric and a huge reason why the Redblacks won. Kicker Lewis Ward continues to do unworldly things, extending his consecutive field goals made streak to 67 with three more. Think about it, 67 straight field goals.
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