OTTAWA — Pre-season football is all about learning what you have and how to use it. In the case of the Ottawa Redblacks, it’s also about learning how to close out games.
The Montreal Alouettes scored 10 points in the final two minutes to register a 22-21 win over the Redblacks in the pre-season opener for both CFL teams Friday.
“We wanted to win, so that was the unfortunate takeaway. We just have to continue to find ways to make sure we close out games no matter who is on the field,” said Redblacks starting quarterback Nick Arbuckle.
“Other than that I thought we did a lot of good things. A lot of young guys made plays, our veterans that were out there in the first half, I thought we executed well, but there’s some things we need to clean up and finish our drives in the end zone.”
Jose Maltos had five field goals, including one from 42-yards out on the final play of the game, to give the Alouettes the win. This after Davis Alexander threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Quartney Davis at 13:08. After the Maltos conversion, the Redblacks' lead was cut to 21-19.
“I’ve been dreaming about this opportunity. It’s been a while that I’ve been working hard so I was ready for this kind of situation,” Maltos said of the winning kick. “As a team, everybody put in the work and this is the result.”
As for the Davis to Davis score, it seemed to leave the Redblacks shell-shocked as a couple of big plays led to the touchdown.
“Honestly I just have to give all the thanks to the coaching staff. Calling great plays and giving me the opportunity to make a big play,” Davis said.
“I’ve kind of been the guy who came up in the clutch in the fourth quarter and made big plays. I just want to continue to do that.”
Lewis Ward kicked four field goals for the Redblacks but also missed a conversion on the game's first touchdown.
Daniel Oladejo had that first touchdown and it came at 6:02 of the fourth quarter giving the Redblacks an 18-12 lead. The game had featured eight field goals before that, four from each side.
Punter Richie Leone also kicked a 12-yard field goal for the Redblacks with two minutes to play for a 21-12 lead.
Oladejo hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tyrie Adams, who came on in relief of Nick Arbuckle in the third quarter.
The Alouettes started former Redblack Caleb Evans, but Alexander and Mike Glass also took snaps behind centre.
The first three quarters were all field goals as Ward outkicked Maltos 12-6.
The game opened with a 16-yard kickoff return by Devonte Dedmon and the opening series ended with a 47-yard field goal from Ward at 8:21.
After the Alouettes went two-and-out, the Redblacks took their next possession downfield, but the drive was stalled and they settled for a 35-yard field goal from Ward.
The same scene played out again as the Alouettes once again failed to gain a first down and after taking over, the Redblacks couldn’t get into the end zone but got a 51-yard field goal from Ward on the final play of the first quarter.
The Alouettes finally generated some offence in the second quarter as their opening drive ended in a 19-yard field goal from Maltos at 6:02 and the Redblacks lead was cut to 12-3.
The Alouettes, more specifically Maltos, tied the game 12-12 before the end of the third quarter with a pair of field goals. The first was a 42-yard kick at 8:47 then the game-tying 33-yarder came with just 54 seconds remaining in the quarter.
The teams will meet in Montreal on June 10 to open the regular season, but before that the Redblacks will complete their pre-season on Thursday against the Toronto Argonauts as they meet in Guelph, Ont. The Alouettes host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2023.
Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press