The newly-named Edmonton Elks welcomed the Ottawa Redblacks to The Brick Field at Common Wealth Stadium for their home opener last night. It was expected to be a blowout with Edmonton coming out on top, instead, we were treated to a defensive showdown and a typical Trevor Harris performance where he was good between the 20’s, but never found the endzone.
It didn’t take long for the people who don’t think Ottawa has any chance offensively to come out after a quick two and out. To compound things for them, the opening drive under a new name for the Edmonton Elks saw them march down the field and nearly score a touchdown. Three points on the board for Edmonton.
From this point on, both defences would clamp down and make life a living hell for the opposing offence. After a pair of two and outs for both teams, the Redblacks got some life on a punt return from DeVonte Dedmon who looked as electric as ever. Again, however, Ottawa was unable to move the chains and needed Lewis Ward to hit a long field goal to score their first points of the game. Thankfully for them, he’s automatic.
Both teams would go two and out to end the quarter. The defensive battle was just getting started.
Second Quarter (OTT: 3 @ EDM: 3)
Early in the second, the Redblacks came very close to scoring a touchdown with a bit of trickeration on a punt return. It was ruled a forward pass, but there is still some debate among fans if this was really a forward pass or not. For me, I’m convinced that this was a legal play until I see a replay that conclusively shows it not to be. Until now, I haven’t seen one.
There wasn’t another scoring play until nearly the end of the half when Sean Whyte knocked through a long field goal. That may have greased the wheels of both offences for a little bit though. The Redblacks drove down the field and kicked a field goal to tie the game, but Edmonton took the lead back before the end of the half. An absolute barn-burner in Edmonton.
Third Quarter (OTT: 6 @ EDM: 9)
The third started with the Elks scoring another field goal early on, but the Redblacks defence started turning up the heat a little bit in the second half. Neither team could move the ball offensively and you knew that it would come down to who made more big plays. Redblacks fans will already be familiar with Abdul Kanneh, but he reintroduced himself last night.
Nothing came of the interception for the Redblacks in terms of points, however. The quarter ended, and we still hadn’t seen a touchdown.
Fourth Quarter (OTT: 6 @ EDM: 12)
With their first drive in the quarter, the Redblacks got into field goal range for Ward again. Of course, he made the kick. The ensuing Elks drive was the turning point in the game. After a lengthy drive from Trevor Harris and the Elks, Kanneh once again came up with a massive play.
The big plays for the Redblacks defence were not done yet, though. With the Elks driving once again, Harris made a big mistake trying to throw a contested pass to his fullback, and fourth-year defensive back, Randall Evans came up with the interception (the first of his career).
With just under three minutes left in the game, all the Redblacks needed was a couple of first downs to ice the game, but they couldn’t do it. There are big issues with the offence that needs to be sorted out, but at least the defence is making a difference. With Edmonton dinking and dunking around the field, it came down to one play.
Wouldn’t you know it, Kanneh was in there making the big play. He has a bit of a knack for doing that if you remember all the way back to the 2016 Grey Cup. But somehow, the Redblacks managed to win their first game of the season despite only having 127 yards of offence.
Passing Yards: Trevor Harris (EDM): 333
Rushing Yards: James Wilder Jr. (EDM): 89
Receiving Yards: Derel Walker (EDM): 98
Touchdowns: Abdul Kanneh (OTT): 1
Tackles: Avery Williams (OTT): 14
Sacks: Kwaku Boateng (EDM) & Mike Moore (EDM): 2
Interceptions: Abdul Kanneh (OTT): 2
13th Man Sports Player of the Game
POTG: Abdul Kanneh
6 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown