Saturday, July 7, 2018

Larry Drew's Mistake Gives Grizzlies Win Over Pistons

The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Detroit Pistons, 73-70, in the Las Vegas Summer League at Cox Pavillion on Saturday.
In a close game throughout, the Grizzlies led most of the way. The Pistons pulled to within two, 66-64, with 5:23 remaining on a Larry Drew II 3-pointer but could get no closer.
Detroit had its chances late, though. Trailing 72-70 with 20 seconds left, Drew stepped out of bounds to give the ball back to the Grizzlies. Moments later following a Grizzlies free throw, Bruce Brown Jr. missed a 27-footer to tie, ending the Pistons' hopes.
The Grizzlies (1-0) dominated in the paint, outrebounding the Pistons, 41-34, and blocking 12 shots.
Wayne Selden led Memphis with 20 points. Jaren Jackson Jr. totaled 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, while Deyonta Davis had 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Ivan Rabb led the bench with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Henry Ellenson totaled 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Pistons (0-2). Brown finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Drew had 13 points and five assists.
The Grizzlies play the Orlando Magic on Sunday, and the Pistons face the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.

HARRIS AND BIGHILL SHINE BRIGHT AS BOMBERS TOP LIONS

Andrew Harris carried the load and Adam Bighill made a huge impact as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rolled to a 41-19 home victory against the BC Lions on Saturday night.
The CFL’s top rushing attack continued to find success once again, with Harris finishing the night with 109 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, including a 43-yard run.
Bighill had a night to remember in his first game against his former team, reeling in two interceptions and returning one for a 55-yard touchdown.
Matt Nichols looked sharp in his season debut for the Bombers, finishing with 162 passing yards and a touchdown, but the team leaned on Harris and the running game all night long as they grabbed their second win of the season.
Both teams started out slow on offence until running back Jeremiah Johnson began to get things rolling on the ground for BC. Johnson put together back-to-back first down runs as the team drove into scoring position. But the Bombers’ defence held strong and forced the Lions to settle for a 19-yard field goal from kicker Ty Long, giving BC an early 3-0 lead.
Quarterback Chris Streveler showed he could still make an impact for Winnipeg despite the return of Nichols. The athletic pivot found the edge for a 26-yard run on the Bombers’ ensuing drive, and he proceeded to move the chains with tough rushing yardage up the middle. Nichols came back on the field and began to find a passing rhythm as he led the offence down the field, and the veteran passer connected with receiver Darvin Adams for a 20-yard touchdown strike to give Winnipeg the 7-3 lead.
The Bombers’ defense made a big play of their own on the following drive, as former Lions linebacker Adam Bighill picked off a Jennings pass to give the ball straight back to Winnipeg’s offence. The interception was Bighill’s first as a Bomber.
Winnipeg quickly made the most of the turnover, and Harris showed off his vertical ability by catching a short pass and hurdling a Lion defender for an impressive 11-yard gain, setting the team up with a first and goal. Harris took a direct snap on the next play and found a hole on the left side to reach the end zone for a four-yard score, giving Winnipeg a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Streveler made a big play through the air when he found receiver Daniel Petermann for a 24-yard gain, with Petermann gaining 19 yards after the catch. Streveler finished off the drive two plays later with a one-yard quarterback sneak across the goal line, putting the Bombers on top 21-3.
Winnipeg’s defense prevented the Lions from sustaining any drives on offence early on, with their defensive front constantly applying pressure and allowing no room for Jennings to make a play.
Harris put together his biggest run of the season so far when he found daylight and accelerated into the open field for a 43-yard gain. Nichols completed a pass to Adams for a 37-yard pick up on the following play, putting Winnipeg back in scoring position. Harris displayed his dynamic ability every time he touched the ball, finishing the first half with 101 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Streveler finished things off once again with his second short-yardage touchdown of the game, giving Winnipeg a 28-3 lead.
The Lions showed a major sense of urgency in the final minutes of the opening half, and Chris Rainey gave his team a massive spark with a 63-yard kick return. Jennings made multiple key throws on the drive, including a 12-yard connection to Rainey that put the team in scoring position. Johnson capped off the 73-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run, making it 28-10 heading into halftime.
Jennings and the BC offence continued to move the ball after the half, and they were able to cut into Winnipeg’s lead once again with a 42-yard field goal from Ty Long.
The Bombers responded with a big 36-yard punt return from Kevin Fogg that helped regain momentum. Nichols proceeded to march the Bombers’ offence into position for a 31-yard field goal from kicker Justin Medlock, giving Winnipeg a 31-13 lead near the end of the third quarter.
Bighill came up big once again for Winnipeg when he picked off his second pass of the night and returned it for a 55-yard touchdown. The athletic linebacker read Jennings the entire way as the quarterback tried to find receiver Bryan Burnham on a crossing route, and the score helped put the Bombers on top 38-13.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo came into the game for BC, but he was also intercepted when Bombers’ defensive back Chris Randle made an impressive play to get his hands on the ball. Winnipeg capitalized by adding a 26-yard field goal from Medlock to give them a 41-13 lead.
Fajardo added a rushing touchdown for BC in the final minute, but it was too little too late as Winnipeg secured the 41-19 victory.
Both teams will see each other again next week in a rematch, with the Bombers heading on the road to face the Lions next Saturday night.

Deandre Ayton's Double Double Leads Suns Past Kings

Deandre Ayton posted a double-double to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 71-63 victory against the Sacramento Kings in the Las Vegas Summer League at Thomas and Mack Center on Saturday.
The first overall pick in this year's draft, Ayton totaled 21 points, 12 rebounds, a block and a steal, shooting 8-of-11 from the field in 22 minutes.
The Suns outscored the Kings 22-10 in the third quarter to lead 55-39, which proved too much for Sacramento to overcome. Neither team shot well from the field. Phoenix hit 36.4 percent, while Sacramento shot 32.4 percent, including going 2-of-19 from 3-point range.
Davon Reed finished with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Suns. Josh Jackson had 10 points, though he struggled with his shot for the second consecutive game, going 3-of-12 from the field. Dragan Bender, the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft, was held scoreless in 24 minutes, missing five field goals and four foul shots.
Harry Giles, who missed his rookie season last year with a knee injury, paced the Kings with 17 points, six rebounds, five steals and a block. This year's second overall pick, Marvin Bagley III, had 15 points and seven rebounds. Justin Jackson finished with eight points and four steals, and Frank Mason had seven points and five assists.
The Kings return to the court against the LA Clippers on Sunday, while the Suns play the Orlando Magic on Monday. Bagley will not play on Sunday and is doubtful for Tuesday's game after suffering a tweak in his right hip flexor/groin area.

Thunder Dominates Nets

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 90-76, in the Las Vegas Summer League at Cox Pavilion on Saturday.
The game wasn't as close as the score indicates. Oklahoma City pulled away in the second quarter, outscoring Brooklyn, 30-13. The Thunder led by as many as 30 in the second half, never relinquishing a double-digit margin. Only a late run when the game was no longer in doubt made it respectable for the Nets.
The Thunder dominated the boards, outrebounding the Nets, 57-38. Brooklyn grabbed only three offensive rebounds. The Nets were also held to just 34 percent shooting from the field and 22 percent from 3-point range while the Thunder connected on 41 percent of their shots.
Hamidou Diallo led the Thunder (1-1) with 19 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Fellow reserve Deonte Burton scored 13 points. Daniel Hamilton finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals, and Dakari Johnson totaled 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The Nets (0-2) were led by Theo Pinson, who had 16 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. James Webb III finished with 12 points and six boards, and Yuta Watanabe led the bench with 13 points, five rebounds, two steals and four blocks.
Both teams return to action on Monday, with Oklahoma City playing the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn facing the Minnesota Timberwolves.

FRANKLIN DELIVERS ARGOS FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON

 James Franklin threw for 217 yards, tossed a touchdown and ran for another in his starting debut for the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday afternoon. The 26-year-old out-dueled Edmonton’s Mike Reilly, the reigning Most Outstanding Player, in a 20-17 win to give Toronto their first win of the 2018 season.
Franklin established his command of the Argos offence on the first drive after kickoff, leading a 76-yard charge to the end zone in nine plays in which James Wilder Jr. ran with poise. Franklin capped off the series with a two-yard scramble into the end zone to give Toronto a 6-0 lead before Reilly touched the ball.
The Eskimos’ pivot didn’t keep the ball for long, though. On a first-down handoff to C.J. Gable, Argos linebacker Cassius Vaughn forced a fumble that was quickly snapped up by teammate Shawn Lemon.
Toronto made the Esks pay for that early mistake after they took over on Edmonton’s 35 yard line. Franklin connected with Armanti Edwards for a 30-yard highlight-reel pitch-and-grab, then Wilder Jr. trotted across the goal line from five yards away to put Toronto up 12-0.
Reilly was able to mount a response on the ensuing drive, but Eskimos kicker Sean Whyte missed a 32-yard field goal attempt and had to settle for a rouge.
After the Argos pinned the Eskimos’ offence at their own two-yard line, Reilly refocussed the Esks offence and led a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive ending with Whyte converting a 33-yard field goal to cut Toronto’s lead to 12-4 early in the second quarter.
As the Eskimos defense finally began to slow Franklin down, Reilly continued to pierce the Argos’ defense with his passing prowess. He brought the Eskimos all the way to the goal line, but after a touchdown was called back due to an offensive holding penalty, Reilly was intercepted in the end zone by Toronto defensive back Ronnie Yell.
Penalties slowed down the pace of the first half, but the Eskimos were able to edge back with a 40-yard field goal from Whyte to narrow the deficit to 12-7 at halftime.
Franklin showed some spark early in the third quarter, launching a 50-yard pass to Llevi Noel, but was intercepted two plays later by Maurice McKnight.
On the ensuing Eskimos drive, Reilly and Kenny Stafford connected for their own 50-yard completion. The big gain led to a 24-yard touchdown pass from Reilly to Derel Walker, giving Edmonton a 14-12 lead, their first of the game.
In search of a response, the Argos could not find one from Franklin and the offence. A nine-yard sack by Esks lineman Mark Mackie halted one drive, a two-and-out halted another. Meanwhile, Whyte nailed another 41-yard field goal to increase the Eskimos lead to 17-12 early in the fourth quarter.
As the urgency deepened, Wilder Jr. and Franklin were finally able to re-capture their first-quarter momentum. They moved the Argos from their own 35 yard line deep into Eskimos territory, aided by a four-yard sneak by Franklin on third down to extend the drive.
The 75-yard journey was capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass to Declan Cross, which pulled the Argos back ahead 20-17 following a two-point conversion, The crowd of 12,196 at BMO Field was re-ignited, and helped Toronto force an Eskimos punt on the ensuing drive.
With the ball back in Franklin’s hands, the Argos advanced the ball efficiently and left the Eskimos without any time to mount a comeback. Wilder Jr. finished the contest with 21 rushes for 120 yards and a touchdown on the ground, plus another 27 yards through the air. Reilly passed for 370 yards and a touchdown, while Duke Williams led all receivers with 125 yards.
The Argos and Eskimos have less than a week to prepare for their Week 5 rematch on July 13 in Edmonton.

Knicks Survive To Beat Hawks

The New York Knicks defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 91-89, in the Las Vegas Summer League at Thomas and Mack Center on Saturday.
While each of the first three quarters were decided by double-digit margins, this game came down to the final seconds. In fact, there were six ties and five lead changes in total, as neither club led by more than seven points in the second half. Defense was key for New York, as they recorded nine steals and nine blocks while winning the turnover differential, 16-12. In addition, Atlanta was held to just 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three-point range while New York hit 42 percent of their shots.
The Knicks (1-0) were led by Kevin Knox, as he amassed 22 points and eight rebounds. Damyean Dotson totaled 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Mitchell Robinson accrued nine points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Alonzo Trier generated 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals while Troy Williams led the bench with 17 points.
The Hawks (0-1) got a gem from John Collins, as he led the team with 30 points and eight rebounds on 12-of-22 shooting. Tyler Dorsey accumulated 15 points, 14 rebounds and two assists. Trae Young had his best game of the summer, providing 21 points, three rebounds and 11 assists on 4-of-12 from the field.
Both teams return to action on Sunday, with Atlanta playing the Portland Trail Blazers and New York facing the Utah Jazz.

Pelicans Cool Off Heat

The New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Miami Heat, 110-84, in the Las Vegas Summer League at Cox Pavilion on Saturday.
The fact that New Orleans won all four individual quarters shows just how lopsided this game was, as Miami trailed by 31 points at times in the fourth quarter. The second quarter is where the Pelicans made separation, outscoring the Heat 30-15. New Orleans’ offense was unstoppable, as they connected on 58 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range. They held Miami to just 42 percent from the field and 26 percent from long range. Ball movement was a huge part of that, with the Pelicans out-assisting the Heat, 24-15.
The Heat (0-1) were led by Duncan Robinson, as he tallied 18 points and six rebounds. Jarrod Jones was their best player, as he led the bench with 15 points and 12 boards. Rashad Vaughn totaled 11 points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Pelicans (2-0) got a near triple-double out of Walter Lemon Jr., as he collected 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Cheick Diallo finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Cliff Alexander went a perfect 7-of-7 from the field to accrue 15 points, five rebounds and two steals. Trevon Bluiett was huge off the bench, providing 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting.
On deck for Miami is a matchup with the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. As for New Orleans, they’ll play the Detroit Pistons on Monday for their next fixture.

Pacers Strong Defense Beats Spurs

The Indiana Pacers defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 86-76, in Las Vegas Summer League at Thomas and Mack Center on Saturday.
While San Antonio led for the majority of the first half, Indiana rode a monster third quarter to victory. In fact, the Pacers outscored the Spurs 22-8 in the third quarter, as they led by at least seven points for the entirety of the fourth quarter. Defense was key for Indiana, as they recorded six steals and won the turnover differential, 12-8. In addition, the Pacers held the Spurs to just 4-of-19 from three-point range,
The Spurs (0-1) leading scorer was Derrick White, as he accrued 19 points, five rebounds and five assists. Lonnie Walker IV finished with 15 points and four boards. Chimezie Metu was the only other Spur in double figures, as he provided 12 points and five rebounds. Jaron Blossomgame totaled eight points and 10 boards.
The Pacers (1-1) best player was T.J. Leaf, as he led the team with 17 points and two boards. Aaron Holiday started at point guard and accumulated 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals on 3-of-15 from the field. Ben Moore finished with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals while Alize Johnson led the bench with 10 points and nine boards.
On deck for San Antonio is a matchup versus the Washington Wizards on Sunday. As for Indiana, they play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday for their next fixture.

Trail Blazers Dominates Utah

The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz, 93-78, in Las Vegas Summer League at Cox Pavillion on Saturday.
This was a dominating performance for Portland, as they held the lead for all but one minute. The first and third quarters were the difference, with the Trail Blazers outscoring the Jazz, 48-32. In addition, Portland led by at least seven points for the final 16 minutes of action. Shooting was key, with Portland connecting on 50 percent of their shots while holding Utah to just 39 percent from the field. Getting to the free-throw line was also critical, with the Trail Blazers connecting on 19-of-25 while the Jazz hit just 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.
The Trail Blazers (1-0) were led by Wade Baldwin IV, as he collected 20 points, three rebounds and five assists on 9-of-13 from the field. Caleb Swanigan finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Jake Layman amassed 14 points and six boards. Gary Trent Jr. led the bench with 16 points and three rebounds.
The Jazz (0-1) had four players reach double figures in scoring, but no other player on the roster scored more than four points. Grayson Allen was their best player, as he accumulated 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Georges Niang totaled 16 points and two boards. Tony Bradley provided 16 points and six boards while Stanton Kidd generated 13 points and four rebounds.
On deck for Portland is a matchup versus the Miami Heat on Sunday. As for Utah, they face the New York Knicks on Sunday as well.

NBA Summer League Recap For July 6, 2018


Summer Warriors Remain Unbeaten

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 77-71 in the Las Vegas Summer League opener for both teams Friday at Thomas and Mack Center.
In a back-and-forth affair that saw 13 lead changes, 13 ties and each team win two quarters, the Clippers pulled to within one on two Sindarius Thornwell free throws with 52 seconds remaining. That's as close as Los Angeles would get, however, as the Warriors scored the next five points, the dagger coming on a Josh Magette 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.
Both teams shot less than 35 percent from the field, but Golden State hit 35.7 percent from 3-point range compared to the Clippers' 26.9 percent. Los Angeles kept it close with a plus-12 rebounding margin.
Kendrick Nunn, who went undrafted out of Oakland this year, led the Warriors with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Jordan Bell had another stat-sheet-stuffing effort, posting six points, 11 boards, five assists, three blocks and two steals.
Thornwell scored a team-high 18 points for the Clippers, adding seven rebounds. First-round draft picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson had 13 and 12 points, respectively. Grant Jerrett and Reggie Upshaw each had 10 rebounds.

Nuggets Hang On To Beat Timberwolves

The Denver Nuggets withstood a furious Minnesota Timberwolves rally to hang on for a 70-69 victory in the Las Vegas Summer League opener for both teams Friday at Cox Pavilion.
The Nuggets built a 62-41 lead after three quarters but went cold as the Timberwolves outscored them by 20 in the fourth quarter, 28-8. Denver scored just six points in the final 5:41, the last on Malik Beasley's driving dunk with 1:54 remaining to lead 70-62. The Timberwolves kept chipping away, pulling to within one point on a two foul shots by Josh Okogie with 29 seconds remaining.
Minnesota then had one last chance with three seconds left, but Keita Bates-Diop's 37-footer missed at the buzzer.
Monte Morris led the Nuggets wth 15 points. Beasley finished with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. Vlatko Cancar led the bench with 11 points, four boards and three steals.
Defense was key for the Nuggets, as they held the Timberwolves to 36 percent shooting from the field and 17 percent from 3-point range.
Isaiah Cousins scored a team-high 15 points off the Minnesota bench. Amile Jefferson led the starters with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Okogie totaled 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks.

Suns Beat Mavericks

The Phoenix Suns took control in the second and third quarters to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 92-85 in the Las Vegas Summer League opener for both teams Friday at Thomas and Mack Center.
After the first quarter ended with the Mavericks leading, 21-20, it looked like the game would be close throughout. But the Suns outscored the Mavericks by 19 over the second and third quarters to pull away.
Phoenix won despite 18 turnovers to Dallas' 10 and losing the battle on the offensive glass, 19-8. The Suns’ 53.7 percent mark from the field was ultimately too much for the Mavericks to overcome, as they shot just 34.1 percent.
Deandre Ayton finished two rebounds short of a double-double in his much-anticipated debut for the Suns. The No. 1 overall selection in this year’s draft scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field.
Davon Reed led the Suns with 18 points. Mikal Bridges, who Phoenix acquired on draft night, scored 14 points, and second-round pick Elie Okobo had nine points and six assists. Shaquille Harrison led the team with nine assists and just two turnovers.
Jalen Jones, who went undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2016, led the Mavericks in scoring and rebounding with 16 points and 11 boards. Dennis Smith Jr. posted 14 points, five assists and two steals.

Cleveland Beat Wizards

Ante Zizic and Cedi Osman posted double-doubles as the Cleveland Cavaliers ran away from the Washington Wizards 72-59 in the Las Vegas Summer League opener for both teams Friday at Cox Pavillion.
Zizic, who shot 8-of-16 from the field, totaled 16 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Osman was only 5-of-15 shooting but still finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. First-round pick Collin Sexton added 15 points and seven rebounds in Cleveland's wire-to-wire victory.
The Cavaliers set the tone early, leading 22-10 after the first quarter, as the Wizards never pulled to within single digits again. Defense was critical for Cleveland. The Cavaliers finished with 14 steals and six blocks, out-rebounding the Wizards 51-35. The Cavs held Washington to 30 percent shooting from the field and 17 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Devin Robinson led the Wizards with 14 points and five rebounds. Trey Brown Jr. finished with 13 points and four rebounds, and Aaron Harrison totaled 12 points and six rebounds.

Celtics Beat 76ers

The Boston Celtics utilized a late surge to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 95-89 in a Las Vegas Summer League contest Friday at Thomas and Mack Center.
Two teams featuring rosters with solid NBA regular-season experience unsurprisingly put on a competitive show for all four quarters, with one performance especially standing out. Furkan Korkmaz, a 2016 first-round pick of the Sixers (0-1), exploded for 40 points on the strength of eight three-pointers.
His impressive sharpshooting almost enabled the Sixers to pull out a victory in a game they trailed in at the end of each quarter. The Celtics (1-0) held a 69-63 lead heading into the final period, but they’d let that slip away in the latter half of the quarter. However, a 6-0 run to close out the game secured the victory for Boston.
The game featured seven lead changes and eight ties overall. Despite Korkmaz’s outstanding shooting, the rest of the Sixers came up woefully short in that area and drained just 36.8 percent of their attempts as a team. The Celtics were much sharper in posting a 48.6 percent success rate from the field, which they complemented with a 75.0 percent mark from the free-throw line.
Korkmaz complemented his aforementioned game-high scoring haul with six rebounds, two assists and one steal. Isaiah Miles was the only other Sixer with double digits in the scoring column, generating 11 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one block.
Norvel Pelle collected eight points, five rebounds, one steal and one block. First-round pick Zhaire Smith followed with seven points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal. Devyn Marble, Devondrick Walker and first-round pick Landry Shamet all had matching six-point tallies.
Two seasoned Celtics (by Summer League standards), Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele, co-led Boston with 16-point efforts. Ojeleye added two rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block, while Yabusele also registered seven rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Jabari Bird, who appeared in 13 games with the Celtics during this past regular season, mustered 14 points, eight boards and two assists. Pierria Henry, Jarrod Uthoff and Hassan Martin all contributed eight points apiece. Henry particularly filled out the stat sheet, also pitching in eight assists, seven rebounds and one steal. Jarell Eddie and Kadeem Allen pitched in six points apiece off the bench.

Pistons Horned By Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Detroit Pistons 90-63 in the Las Vegas Summer League opener for both teams Friday at Cox Pavilion.
The Bucks led 14-8 after the first quarter, but then poured it on the second quarter to lead by 17 points at halftime. The advantage continued to climb in the second half as Milwaukee led by double-digits throughout the final two quarters, including by as many as 30 in the fourth quarter.
Former UNLV center Christian Wood led the Bucks with 23 points. Guard Zach Lofton scored 10 points for the Pistons.
Milwaukee rookie Donte DiVincenzo, the 17th overall pick in the draft, did not play because of a groin injury.

SINOPOLI TAKES FLIGHT, REDBLACKS WIN 28-18 IN MONTREAL

It was close for one quarter. Then it wasn’t. And suddenly, in the fourth quarter, it was tight again.
After a comfortable three quarters, the Ottawa REDBLACKS had to white-knuckle their way through a fourth-quarter comeback attempt to earn a 28-18 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Friday Night Football.
Quarterback Trevor Harris threw for 342 yards and a trio of touchdowns in the win for Ottawa, while Brad Sinopoli caught a career-high 11 passes en route to a game-high 148 receiving yards and a touchdown. REDBLACKS feature back William Powell also ripped off a season-high 138 rush yards.
Friday’s win was the fifth in a row at Percival Molson Stadium for the REDBLACKS, who have now won nine of their last 10 contests against Montreal.
The Als attempted to mount a late-game comeback attempt, but it fell short due to a combination of penalties and incompletions.
The REDBLACKS opened the scoring on the first drive of the ballgame, as Harris found former Alouette J.C. Beaulieu in blown coverage for a 47-yard touchdown; the subsequent two-point convert fell incomplete.
Montreal’s offence — aided by 25 yards in Ottawa penalties — responded on its opening drive, as Tyrell Sutton plunged in from the 2-yard line for a major. Boris Bede nailed the convert to give the hosts a 7-6 lead.
A booming 59-yard punt single from Bede then made it 8-6 Montreal.
The REDBLACKS retook the lead late in the first quarter on a 12-yard chip shot field goal from Lewis Ward.
Quarter No. 2 belonged entirely to Ottawa, as Harris and co. marched at will and Noel Thorpe’s defence shut the door on Mathews and the Als.
The visitors forced the Montreal offence into a pair of two-and-outs to begin the quarter, then Harris marched his own offence 65 yards on six plays into the end zone — a 37-yard connection to Brad Sinopoli being the touchdown cherry on top. Harris then zipped a dart to Beaulieu for the two-point convert, and the REDBLACKS led 17-8.
One uneventful Als drive later, the REDBLACKS were back in possession and marching; the duo of Harris and running back William Powell combined for a 10-play, 87-yard drive, capped by a nine-yard Harris-to-Noel Thomas Jr. touchdown with just six seconds left in the half. Powell then raced in untouched on the two-point convert to send Ottawa to the locker room with a 25-8 lead.
The REDBLACKS continued to roll in the third quarter, with a 31-yard field goal from Ward pushing the lead to 20 and the defence limiting Montreal to just three first downs.
Montreal finally managed a major offensive play early in the fourth quarter, when Mathews connected with Eugene Lewis for a massive 65-yard gain. Two plays later, Mathews partnered with Chris Harper for a 14-yard major. Following Bede’s convert, the Ottawa lead stood at 28-15.
The Als’ next possession was kept alive despite a Mathews interception — returned by Kevin Brown back to Montreal’s goal line — by an Ottawa penalty, and ended with a 43-yard Bede field goal to cut the lead to 10.
It was as close as Montreal would come, as a Jermaine Robinson penalty and a handful of Mathews overthrows would seal the end result.
The Alouettes got beaten up in the closing stages of Friday’s game, as veteran kick returner Stef Logan was carried off the field with an apparent ankle injury and Mathews took a pair of massive hits to close out the ballgame.
With the win, the REDBLACKS moved to 2-1 on the young season; they will now return home for a Thursday Night Football date against the first-place Calgary Stampeders next week (Thu. Jul. 12, 7:30 p.m. ET).
Campbell’s team looked solid in all three phases, and created separation between itself and Montreal in the East Division standings (two points with a game in-hand) with the win.
The loss dropped the Alouettes to 1-3, and killed any momentum Mike Sherman’s team gained from its Week-3 win in Regina. It will be back to the drawing board for the Alouettes as they enter a bye week; they, too, will face the Calgary Stampeders in their next game (Sat. Jul. 21, 9:30 p.m. ET).
Montreal has now failed to break the 20-point mark in three of its four games to begin 2018.