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Als take down REDBLACKS with last-minute touchdown

MONTREAL — Backup quarterback Matthew Shiltz led a touchdown drive in the final two minutes as the Montreal Alouettes came back to defeat the Ottawa REDBLACKS with a 20-16 win at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium on Thanksgiving Monday.

Vernon Adams Jr. left the game with an apparent shoulder injury with just over two minutes remaining after being tackled by Avery Ellis, but Shiltz took over and led Montreal to victory with three straight completions and a 17-yard run to set up the decisive touchdown.

Filling in for injured league-leading rusher William Stanback, Cameron Artis-Payne stepped up for the Als with 122 yards on 21 carries in his first CFL start — including the game-winning touchdown that clinched Montreal’s first home win.

Montreal improved to .500 on the season with back-to-back wins, matching Hamilton in the East Division with a 4-4 record.

The Als struck first on their opening drive with Adams throwing a five-yard touchdown to Jake Wieneke, but Ottawa entered halftime with an 8-7 lead following a safety and a pair of field goals by Lewis Ward.

The game remained close in the third quarter with both teams trading field goals, but Ward added his fourth field goal to give Ottawa a 14-13 lead in the fourth. Ottawa extended the lead after the Als conceded another safety, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to seal the deal.

Ottawa’s rookie quarterback Caleb Evans made his third CFL start and finished with 125 passing yards and 64 rushing yards. Evans was also picked off by Najee Murray and was sacked five times.

The REDBLACKS’ defence swarmed Adams for much of the game, finishing with six sacks and a highlight-reel interception by Brandin Dandridge.

Adams moved past Winnipeg’s Zach Collaros for the league lead in touchdown passes with 14.

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Evans was sacked on the first two plays of the game by Patrick Levels and Jamal Davis, leading to a quick punt by Richie Leone. The Alouettes didn’t waste any time getting things going on offence, as Adams connected with Eugene Lewis for a 32-yard gain on Montreal’s first play.

Artis-Payne then broke free for 24 yards on his opening carry, and Adams capped off the quick scoring drive one play later with a five-yard touchdown toss to Wieneke. Wieneke capitalized on a busted coverage for his seventh major of the season, and David Côté booted the ensuing extra point through the uprights.

The REDBLACKS got on the board early in the second quarter when Ward made a 35-yard field goal that was set up by De’Lance Turner‘s 16-yard run.

Ottawa then generated a spark on defence by forcing a turnover on the following drive, as a late throw from Adams was picked off by Dandridge.

Dandridge jumped the route in front of Eugene Lewis and somehow managed to drag his toes to secure the interception while falling out of bounds. But Ottawa’s offence was unable to convert the turnover into points, with Montreal forcing another quick two-and-out.

Leone then came through with a precise 43-yard punt that pinned Montreal’s offence back at their six-yard line. The Als’ offence was unable to create any breathing room against a tough defensive front, and a sack by Dwayne Norman moved the ball back even further. The Als opted to concede a safety to improve field position, with their lead decreasing to just two points midway through the second.

Evans led a strong drive in the final minutes of the half that started with a 12-yard strike over the middle to fellow rookie Ryan Davis. Evans then found daylight on a big 36-yard gallop down the left side of the field to move Ottawa into scoring position at the Montreal 12-yard line.

But a time count violation against the REDBLACKS pushed the ball back ten yards, and an incompletion on the next play led them to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Ward — giving Ottawa an 8-7 lead entering halftime.

 

Montreal retook the lead early in the third quarter on a 45-yard field goal by Côté, and the Als’ defence maintained momentum on the next drive by forcing a quick turnover. Nick Usher created pressure off the edge and made contact with Evans as he threw a pass down the field, and Murray finished the play by intercepting the underthrown ball.

Adams escaped pressure and broke off a 20-yard rush to extend the ensuing drive on second-and-long, and he stayed down momentarily after taking a hit while sliding. Artis-Payne moved the ball into the redzone with an 11-yard run, but Ottawa’s defence held strong to prevent the touchdown as Montreal settled for a 25-yard field goal by Ward to extend the lead.

Ottawa started strong on the next drive with a 28-yard run by Turner and a 15-yard catch by Davis, setting up a 32-yard field goal by Ward that cut Montreal’s lead down to two points.

A costly 43-yard pass interference penalty against Montreal’s Rodney Randle Jr. gave Ottawa solid field position in the fourth quarter, but Evans was sacked by David Menard as the drive stalled. Ward kicked the 25-yard field goal to put Ottawa back on top with a 14-13 lead.

Ottawa’s lead grew to three points when Montreal conceded another safety after back-to-back sacks backed them up in their own end. The Als got the ball back after the three-minute warning, but Adams was forced out of the game with an apparent shoulder injury after being tackled while trying to convert a second down with his legs.

Shiltz took over and extended the drive before leading the Als down the field for Artis-Payne’s go-ahead score. Shiltz completed a 16-yard pass to Kaion Julien-Grant before connecting with B.J. Cunningham for another 19 yards. The veteran backup then picked up 17 yards on the ground to set up the seven-yard game-winning touchdown run.

Montreal also won the first matchup against Ottawa this season with a 51-29 win in Week 5. Both teams will square off again in Week 11 when Ottawa hosts Montreal next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

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