Trevor Harris continues to shine for the Ottawa Redblacks this season. Since Henry Burris went down early in the first game, Harris has run, if not sprinted, away with the starting quarterback position in Ottawa to begin, and this occasion in Toronto was no different.
After Ottawa punted on their first possession, it was the quarterback of the Argos who got the first big moment of the game. A seven-yard completion to Brandon Whitaker put Ricky Ray into fourth on the CFL’s all-time passing list overtaking former great Danny McManus and now sitting behind Anthony Calvillo, Damon Allen and Henry Burris – who just happened to be on the other sideline tonight albeit injured.
The dominating story line coming into this game was Trevor Harris playing his first game in Toronto after leaving in offseason. But Trevor Harris was true to form and showed no jitters in his game and looked determined to stick it to his old team.
The Argonauts were the first team to head to the red zone but the Ottawa defense was a bit overzealous and took a few too many penalties towards the end of the drive on defense. This gave the Argos many extra chances to score, including an almost-interception by Ray that just got a piece of the ground for an incomplete pass. Back-up Cody Fajardo came on to the field later on for short yardage and handed the ball off to Anthony Coombs, who broke the plane on a one-yard scamper to get the Argos on the board 6-0. After a Lirim Hajrullahu convert the score was 7-0 for the Argonauts. Ottawa’s next drive stalled out and even ended with back-to-back sacks as the Argos went into the second quarter up by seven.
Ray drove his team into the red zone again to begin the second quarter and once again the CFL newcomer, Cody Fajardo, was in for short yardage and ran it across the goal line to give the Argonauts a 13-0 lead. Unfortunately the point after was missed by the usually sure footed Hajrullahu and the score stayed at 13-0.
Then it was time for Trevor Harris and the league’s hottest offense to get back to work. Ottawa is a team so deep that they have many quality receivers such as Chris Williams, Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli who are at one, two and three respectively in receiving right now.
Tonight it was Ellingson’s turn to step up as Trevor Harris found him for a huge 69-yard catch and run to set up the offense in stellar field position. After an illegal contact penalty by the Argos, the Redblacks were able to hand the ball off to Nick Grigsby, who ran it in from four yards out for a touchdown to get the Redblacks on the board and make it a 13-6 game. After the convert by Chris Milo the score was 13-7.
The two teams exchanged punts for the rest of the second quarter until a late 31-yard field goal by Chris Milo sent the two teams int halftime with a 13-10 scoreline.
Ottawa started the second half with tremendous purpose as Trevor Harris completed to Greg Ellingson who then added a spectacular run, dodging defenders for a massive gain of 77-yards and into the red zone on only the third play of the second half. Trevor Harris punched it in on the next play as the Redblacks now led 16-13 and with a Chris Milo point after they were now up 17-13.
The Argos were able to respond with a touchdown drive of their own, which included a huge 34-yard completion to Kenny Shaw before Ricky Ray found Brandon Whitaker in the end zone for a 20-17 lead after the extra point conversion.
An 11-yard field goal by Chris Milo tied things at 20-20 early in the fourth. Ottawa was in familiar territory again after having played to a 26-26 draw with Calgary last week. Things would work out much more favourably for Ottawa this time around.
A 40-yard punt by Hajrullahu was fielded by Ottawa’s Tristan Jackson who proceeded to return the ball 75-yards for the major score, leaving many crossed up defenders in the wake of his spectacular play. After the convert, Ottawa was up by 27-20 at BMO Field.
The Redblacks put in a good closing effort, stifling the Argos on defense, causing them to punt on the third of their final four possessions of the game – with that fourth possession coming only as time expired.
Overall, it was a great team effort up and down the line-up for the Ottawa Redblacks who had great plays from the offense early, with players like Greg Ellingson having a monster 218-yard night and the defense holding on. Even the special teams played their part with the game deciding kick return. Trevor Harris went 28/31 for 392-yards and still only has one interception thrown so far this season, as the Redblacks stay the only undefeated team in the CFL. Ricky Ray went 24/32 for 249-yards with no interceptions in the losing cause.
The Argos on the other hand have to rally together soon to keep the momentum of their new field going. They now stand at 2-2 on the season. The Argos were coming off of a good road trip out west but just couldn’t keep the momentum going into BMO Field.
The Redblacks next play on July 22 at 9:00pm EST as the young franchise play their final game at Saskatchewan’s Mosaic Stadium, the stadium which is being demolished at the end of the season. The Argonauts try again for their first win at BMO Field as they host Montreal at 7:30pm EST.