REDBLACKS Officially Back in All Too Familiar Slump

With impressive July wins over Winnipeg and Calgary, the Ottawa REDBLACKS 2023 season appeared to be on the upswing. Led by quarterback Dustin Crum, who began the year ranked fourth on the club’s depth chart, they seemed to have found a way to win close games, coming up big in the big moments. 


But since then, they’ve been finding ways to lose them.


The REDBLACKS have now lost four straight games, dropping their record to 3-7 on the season, and putting their playoff hopes in peril.


On Saturday night at TD Place, Ottawa appeared to be in great shape, riding a 24-10 lead on the Montreal Alouettes with about nine minutes left in the ball game. On top of that, the Als quarterback was backup Caleb Evans, who had been mostly ineffective in the game, not to mention most of his three previous seasons as a backup with the Ottawa REDBLACKS.


But Ottawa closed out things out with a steady diet of mistakes, a side order of poor execution, and the Alouettes stormed back and win 25-24.


Evans helped take down his old team with a 51-yard pass to Hergy Mayala, who was inexplicably left wide open behind coverage in the game’s final minute. Then, on third and goal, Evans ran for the game-winning touchdown, beating his man one on one in the open field.


The mistakes were everywhere, well beyond Mayala’s apparently cloak of invisibility. 


With 1:26 left at the Montreal 50, punter Richie Leone tried to pin the Als deep. Instead, he shanked one 22 yards out of bounds. With the illegal punt call, that basically made it a 12 yard punt.


Once Ottawa had a 24-10 lead with nine minutes left, the offence did nothing to take any time off the clock, managing all of one first down in two possessions.


When Montreal was third and goal with 31 seconds left, Ottawa failed to call an insurance time out right after second down, allowing precious time to tick off the clock. That might have bought the REDBLACKS a couple of extra plays to get downfield for a game winning field goal. 


As Evans was running in for the winning score, Adam Auclair was in perfect position to stop him well shy of the goal line. Evans didn’t do anything particularly elusive or deceptive. But Auclair took a terrible angle of pursuit, allowing Evans to scamper past him to win the game.


Even luck had abandoned them. Ottawa’s Sherrod Baltimore appeared to come up with an interception in the REDBLACKS’ end zone with about two minutes remaining. That would have pretty much sealed the victory and the fans celebrated accordingly. But the CFL command centre eventually ruled that Baltimore didn’t have full control of the ball before landing out of bounds.


At 3-7, the Redblacks are now in last place in the CFL East, while second-place Montreal improved to 6-3. Ottawa, Hamilton and Calgary all have six points in the snail race for the league’s final available playoff spot.


The REDBLACKS next game is in Edmonton Sunday night (August 27) in a battle of last place clubs. After an 0-9 start, the Elks finally got off the schneid and won a game Thursday night. Just Ottawa’s luck.

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