MONTREAL — The Ottawa Redblacks knew they had nothing to lose with 2:31 left in their last game of the season.
Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Redblacks (3-11) recovered a fumble from Alouettes running back Jeshrun Antwi at their own 14-yard line. Ottawa drove 96 yards down the field and quarterback Caleb Evans rushed in the tying touchdown on third down.
“This is our last drive, let’s score and let’s go home happy,” Evans said, when asked what he told his teammates before heading onto the field. “The guys responded well with me and we executed well.”
The Redblacks went all in with 11 seconds to go to and Evans converted a two-point conversion to R.J. Harris, stealing a 19-18 win against the Montreal Alouettes (7-7).
“We had so much momentum with that long drive, let’s finish it right there with one play,” said head coach Paul LaPolice.
The Redblacks made the Als pay with two touchdowns following Antwi fumbles in the second half. Evans rushed for two touchdowns and threw for 173 yards. Kicker Lewis Ward added one field goal.
“The whole season, a lot of guys on defence played well enough for us to win the game and I feel like us as the offence we didn’t hold up to our end of the bargain,” said running back Timothy Flanders. “Our defence created a lot of turnovers and we had to be able to capitalize on those.”
For Flanders, notching the last win of the season on the last drive of the game builds momentum heading into the 2022 season.
“They say in professional sports that year after year the locker room might not be the same,” Flanders said. “But it feels good for me personally just to show the team, the staff and the fans something to look forward to for next year.”
Antwi came on for starter and CFL rushing leader William Stanback in the second half. Alouettes head coach Khari Jones said he had “no regrets” taking out Stanback who had picked up a minor injury in the first half.
“He ran well, he just has to take care of the football. He knows that,” Jones said. “We just have to be there for him and not allow them to drive down the field.”
Trevor Harris threw two touchdown passes to Jake Weineke and racked up 259 yards. Kicker David Cote added two field goals. Weineke became the league leader in touchdowns with 11 on the season.
With the loss, the Alouettes wrapped up the season in third place and will play the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats next Sunday at Tim Hortons Field. In order to return to Hamilton for the Grey Cup final, the Als will need to beat the Ti-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts on the road.
“That’s the road we’ve taken this season, for whatever reason,” Jones said. “So to get where we need to go we’re going to have to go the hard way, fitting in a way, but I still think we have a team that can do that. It’s just that we have to be right on all components.”
Kickers Ward and Cote exchanged identical 44-yard field goals to tie the game 3-3 in the first quarter.
Cote added a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter to grab a 6-3 lead for Montreal.
Harris found Weineke with a 14-yard touchdown pass. Montreal attempted the two-point conversion but failed.
Harris and Weineke teamed up for Montreal’s second touchdown of the night. The South Dakota State University product caught a 21-yard pass giving the Als an 18-3 lead at halftime.
Antwi fumbled the ball on their own 32-yard line on the first play of the third quarter. The Redblacks made the Als pay when Evans made a one-yard sneak for a touchdown and completed the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 18-11.
Antwi fumbled the ball a second time at Ottawa’s 14-yard line with 2:31 to go in the fourth quarter. The Redblacks drove all the way down the field and Evans rushed in his second touchdown of the night.
Evans’ successful two-point conversion pass to Harris notched Ottawa’s shock win in Montreal.
— This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2021.
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