Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Ward kicks last second field goal to give Redblacks win over Ticats

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At long last, the Ottawa Redblacks have defeated an East Division opponent again.

On home soil, to boot.

The Redblacks ended a 14-game losing streak to division rivals AND beat an Eastern opponent at TD Place for the first time since 2018 when they came from behind late in the fourth quarter – not once, but twice – to score a 24-22  victory over the Hamilton Ticats Sunday night.

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Lewis Ward won the game for Ottawa, nailing a 46-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

“That will never get old,” Ward said of his dramatic walk-off winner. “It’s always exciting. It’s always nerve wracking.”

The Redblacks improved to 2-1 on the season while the Ticats dropped to 0-4.

Behind 16-15 with three and a half left, DeVonte Dedmon returned a punt 30 yards, putting the Redblacks in prime position near the midfield mark.

Three key gains by running back Ryquell Armstead set up a Dru Brown to Justin Hardy 15-yard touchdown pass with two minutes left.

Ottawa attempted a two-point conversion that would have made the lead seven, but Brown’s high pass to Dominique Rhymes couldn’t be hauled in.

All the Redblacks needed was for the defence, which had its best game of the young season, to keep Bo Levi Mitchell from leading Ticats to the end zone.

But Mitchell, a two-time most outstanding player and Grey Cup MVP, reverted to his old form, pulling the visitors in front with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Shemar Bridges with 31 seconds on the clock.

As a large portion of the more than 20,000 in attendance headed for the exit signs, the Redblacks said not so fast.

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Choosing to kick the ball away from Dedmon this time, the Ticats squibbed one to Tobias Harris, whose determined 27 yard return set the offence up on the Ottawa 52 with 18 seconds to go.

Brown hit former Ticats Jaelon Acklin and Bralon Addison up with passes of nine and 10 yards, and Ward, who had missed a convert attempt in the first quarter, more than redeemed himself by taking care of the rest.

“There’s very few people in the world that can come in and make a game winning field goal, and we’ve got one of those guys,” said Brown. “So we had full faith that if we got to his spot that he was going to make it, and obviously he was able to do his thing.”

Having a big night for the Redblacks was Jaelon Acklin, who emerged from concussion protocol earlier in the week to make six catches for 81 yards.

His numbers would have even been more impressive had he not had a couple of good gains wiped out by Ticat challenges.

The Redblacks defence made some big plays, including sacks by Lorenzo Mauldin IV and Bryce Carter, plus a big tackle for a loss and a large hit that interrupted what would have been a key fourth quarter gain by Frankie Griffin and just another solid all-round performance by Adarius Pickett.

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Oh there was some bending. Mitchell completed 30 of 45 passes for 322 yards and Tim White, the CFL’s top receiver in 2023 but a guy who was struggling with only 10 receptions on 26 targets through three games this season, rediscovered his groove with eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.

But overall it was a strong answer from a unit that allowed Montreal 47 points the week before.

“Everybody was executing their assignments,” said Griffin. “Secondary was making plays on the ball. Linebackers were eating up front because our D-line was eating up front. We were getting pressure on the quarterback.  I feel like just all phases played great.

“Towards the end of the game we could have stopped him from scoring, but it happens. The offence offence stepped up and got the field goal for us.”

Taking a 12-10 lead into the second half, the Redblacks gave up a couple of big gain receptions to White and Steven Dunbar Jr. on Hamilton’s first possession. But the Ticats had to settle for a field goal when Mauldin sacked Mitchell.

The Redblacks might have jumped back out in front on the next series but a Dru Brown 35-yarder to Acklin was wiped out when Ticats coach Scott Milanovich won his second challenge of the night and Hardy was called for an illegal block down field on the play.

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For the second week in a row, the Redblacks got off to a horrid start.

Dedmon fumbled the opening kickoff, picked the ball up and ran 20 yards before being stripped by Robert Panabaker. Three plays (including a procedure penalty) after Hamilton’s Felix Garand-Gauthier, Mitchell found Tim White with a 25-yard TD pass.

Dedmon started redeeming himself on the ensuing kick with a big return to midfield, and the Redblack went about evening the score.

The big play of the six that took them to the endzone was a swing pass to running back Ryquell Armstead, who scampered 32 yards to the Ticats one.

Dustin Crum took the next snap across the line for the touchdown, but Lewis Ward was wide right on the extra point attempt.

Ward did connect on a 34-yard field goal in the second last minute of the opening quarter to put Ottawa ahead 9-7 after 15 minutes.

Also as was the case in Montreal last week, Bob Dyce lost a pass interference challenge while his opposite number,  Milanovich, won a challenge.

The latter wiped out a call against Acklin on a 30 yard pass to the end zone that would have set the ball up on the Ticats one.

Instead, the Redblacks wound up having to settle for a 36-yard Ward field goal that put them ahead by two at the intermission.

The Redblacks next game is Friday night in Winnipeg.


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