Interim head coach Bob Dyce got his first win in charge of the Ottawa Redblacks, defeating the Montreal Alouettes 24-18 to keep the Redblacks’ slim playoff hopes alive while simultaneously preventing the Alouettes from clinching a playoff spot of their own.
Redblacks’ quarterback Nick Arbuckle was extremely efficient in the win, completing 28/32 of his passes for 229 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He moved the ball downfield efficiently, made smart decisions throwing the football, did not rush his reads, and was patient in the pocket. He climbed up the pocket or rolled out to avoid pressure from the Alouettes’ defensive line before scanning the field to find an open receiver. Most importantly, however, he did not make any mistakes, did not throw an interception, and did not turn the ball over.
After falling behind 15-7 at halftime, the Redblacks had possession of the ball for the large majority of the second half, keeping Trevor Harris and the Alouettes offense on the sidelines. The Redblacks possessed the ball for over 22 minutes in the second half and over 12 of the 15 minutes of the third quarter, which tremendously aided their comeback. They outscored the Alouettes 17-3 in the second half.
While neither team could really get their running game going, Jackson Bennett was crucial on the ground for the Redblacks, especially after William Powell left the game early on with an injury. He rushed nine times for 41 yards and provided a few crucial first downs, helped the Redblacks maintain possession of the ball, and helped keep his offense ahead of the sticks on down and distance. Caleb Evans was also critical in the run game. He rushed seven times for 11 yards and scored the Redblacks’ only two TDs on designed QB draws.
Alouettes’ quarterback Trevor Harris was also excellent today, completing 30/38 of his passes for 338 yards and one touchdown to Geno Lewis, who had another fantastic game with nine catches for 108 yards and a touchdown catch. He has 1166 receiving yards this year, which is good for fourth most in the CFL.
Both offensive lines were fantastic today, neither of which gave up a sack. However, both Arbuckle and Harris consistently got the ball out of their hands quickly which prevented the defenses from generating a ton of pressure and which allowed for many opportunities for big gains after the catch.
Justin Hardy stepped up and had arguably his biggest game of the season, finishing with 11 catches for 79 yards. He made many big catches to extend Redblacks’ drives and set the Redblacks up in scoring position. He stepped up especially in the second half when Jaelon Acklin – who is third in CFL in receiving yards with 1169 – exited the game after taking a hit and entering into concussion protocol.
This was a great team win for the Redblacks, and their offense, defense, and special teams all played a critical role in the win. After Lewis Ward hit his fourth field goal of the game to put the Redblacks up 24-18, their defense stopped the Alouettes in the red zone, forcing two incompletions in the red zone thanks to great coverage on the final drive to secure the win. The Redblacks are 4-4 on the road, which is great considering their abysmal home record.
With Dyce at the helm, there was no conservative playcalling; the Redblacks were going for it on third and short situations in the Alouettes’ territory, there were limited penalties that negatively impacted either the offense or defense, they didn’t give up on the run game which opened up holes in the passing game and they were able to stay ahead of the sticks by getting the ball out quickly and not taking sacks. Dyce was excellent for his first game as the interim head coach.
Former Redblacks quarterback William Arndt, who is now the Redblacks’ quarterbacks coach was calling the plays. He did a great job in his first game as the main play-caller.
The Redblacks have another chance to keep their playoff hopes alive and can prevent the Alouettes from clinching a playoff spot again when these two teams meet again in Ottawa on October 14.
The Redblacks are 0-7 at home this year and have lost 21 of their last 22 games at TD Place. Can they reverse that trend next week?