Saturday, June 25, 2016


The Ottawa REDBLACKS got their revenge over the Edmonton Eskimos, winning the Grey Cup rematch 45-37 in an overtime thriller.
It was Trevor Harris, not Henry Burris, who led the REDBLACKS to victory after the reigning Most Outstanding Player appeared to jam the pinky finger on his throwing hand in the third quarter and could not return to the game.
Following a 19-yard rush by rookie running back Trevon Van, Harris found Brad Sinopoli in the end zone to give the REDBLACKS the lead in the extra frame. Greg Ellingson would convert on the two-point attempt and the defence did the rest, stopping Mike Reilly on third down to clinch the victory.
The win was the REDBLACKS’ first over the Eskimos since joining the league in 2014.
Harris was impressive in his Ottawa debut, completing 17 of 19 passes for 292 yards and throwing three touchdowns. Burris threw for 251 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
The final minute of the game featured a 39-yard field goal by Sean Whyte to give the Eskimos a 37-34 lead, but Chris Milo booted a 55-yarder to tie the game as time expired to send the game to overtime.
Harris continued to lead the REDBLACKS offence in the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 31-24 after a 38-yard Milo field goal. Adarius Bowman and the Esks responded with a 40-yard gain and Whyte added a 35-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 31-27. It didn’t take long for Ottawa to answer back as Ellingson took a short pass 56 yards downfield. Milo hit another field goal to put the REDBLACKS back up by seven. Derel Walker delivered a returning blow, moving the Esks 64 yards downfield before John White punched in a touchdown to tie the game.
White finished the game with a rushing touchdown on 43 yards and 11 carries and a receiving touchdown on 51 yards.
The offensive showdown started right on the opening drive. A 20-yard reception by White was the highlight of the Esks’ opening drive that ended in a single.
Starting at midfield midway through the first quarter after pinning the Esks deep in their zone, Burris and the REDBLACKS went to work. Burris threaded a 19-yard pass to Ernest Jackson but their drive would end there. In the red zone, Van fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Kenny Ladler to end the threat.
In the final minutes of the opening frame, Arnaud Gascon-Nadon sacked Reilly in the end zone, putting the REDBLACKS up 2-1 with the safety. They would add a single on their next drive to go up 3-1 and carry a lead into the second quarter.
A pair of first downs by Jake Harty and Brad Sinopoli moved the chains downfield for Ottawa but they could not put any more points on the board.
Reilly and the Esks offence went back to work, hooking up with new weapon Chris Getzlaf for a 21-yard gain and Nate Coehoorn to move the team into field goal distance. Sean Whyte hit a 29-yard field goal to put the Esks back up 4-3.
A series of short passes from Burris brought the REDBLACKS into scoring territory where Van cut through a seam for a 14-yard rush. Kienan Lafrance scored the first touchdown of the game on a four-yard reception and Ernest Jackson caught the two-point conversion as Ottawa went ahead 11-4.
A 55-yard reception by Walker brought Edmonton into the midfield. Bowman caught back-to-back passes before John White found a hole for a 27-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game.
Following a 12-yard Sinopoli reception, Milo nailed a 45-yard field goal in the last play of the first half to give the REDBLACKS the 14-11 lead.
The REDBLACKS opened the second half on offence but couldn’t get anything going. Milo’s punt attempt was blocked by Ruben Frank and the rookie brought it back for a touchdown to give the Esks the lead back. The defence would get back to work as Odell Willis intercepted Burris to put the Esks in great field position. Edmonton would hit another field goal to put themselves ahead 21-14.
Not long later, Burris appeared to jam his finger and left the field with the training staff. Off-season signee Harris, in his first play as a member of the REDBLACKS, came into the game and immediately hooked up with Chris Williams on a 71-yard touchdown to tie the game 21-21. It was the longest pass of Harris’ career.
The seesaw battle continued but moved in favour of the REDBLACKS as Harris and Williams connected again, this time on a 37-yard major as Ottawa regained the lead, 28-21.
Reilly and the Esks picked up the pace on offence, quickly moving downfield and adding another Whyte field goal as the third quarter dwindled down.
This marked the first matchup of Esks head coach Jason Maas against his former team. The ex-REDBLACKS offensive coordinator left for Edmonton in the off-season following the departure of Chris Jones.
Next week, the REDBLACKS visit the Montreal Alouettes while the Eskimos get an early bye.

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