July 19th, 2024

Redblacks, Ticats both look to halt losing skids in meeting in nation’s capital

By Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press on June 29, 2024.

Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Dru Brown (3) throws under presser from Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson (94) during first half CFL football action in Montreal, Thursday, June 20, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Redblacks and Hamilton Tiger-Cats will both be looking to break some ugly streaks when they square off Sunday night at TD Place.

Ottawa has struggled mightily against division rivals of late. Its last win against an East opponent was a 24-18 victory over the Montreal Alouettes in 2022.

More concerning, however, is Ottawa’s home record against the East. The Redblacks (1-1) haven’t beaten an East Division opponent at TD Place since a 24-9 victory over the Toronto Argonauts on Nov. 2, 2018.

“It’s extremely important (to beat an East team),” Redblacks head coach Bob Dyce said.

“We plan on being a playoff team so we want to make sure every time we have an opportunity that we seize those two points, whether you call it four-point games or things like that, Hamilton just happens to be the team this week. It’s an Eastern team.”

Strangely enough, the Redblacks don’t face another East Division opponent until September.

“You want to dive in a little extra because you know that the seeding and all that stuff matters down the road,” said linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox. “So, you know, not playing another eastern opponent until September is kind of weird but it’s also something we want to embrace and leave the East on the right note.”

The Ticats, meanwhile, have started the season 0-3 and look to prove they’re better than their record indicates.

A meeting against the Redblacks might just be what they need.

Hamilton struggled at the start of the last two seasons, going 0-4 in 2022 and 0-3 in 2023, and broke its losing streaks each time with wins over Ottawa.

The Redblacks will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 47-21 loss against Montreal last week. The Redblacks were down 30-1 at halftime.

Quarterback Dru Brown aims to do the same after going 21-of-35 passing for 292 yards with one touchdown and one interception in that loss.

“I wouldn’t say I’m the super-seasoned vet but I’ve been around long enough to know how long the season is,” Brown said. “It’s important for us to stay together.

“A lot of times teams experience at least one game like that, even the good ones, so, we obviously looked at it and improved and then we flushed it because it doesn’t matter anymore. In moving forward, we have full confidence in one another to do what we need to do.”

The Redblacks know they’ll need to contain Ticats QB Bo Levi Mitchell. The veteran threw three interceptions last week in a 36-20 loss to Saskatchewan, but he remains one of the league’s best.

“I think he’s back to sort of his old form,” Santos-Knox said of Mitchell. “He looks very mobile back there and he’s able to escape things he wasn’t really escaping last year “¦ we know we’re going to get the best of him.

“He can read every defence and has seen every defence so with him we’ve just got to be really assignment sound and know that he’s a great player still.”

Sherrod Baltimore will be part of that effort after winning the battle for the starting cornerback position. The opening presented itself after Ottawa placed Money Hunter on the one-game injured list.

Tarvarus McFadden and Baltimore had both been vying for the opportunity but in the end, Dyce said Baltimore displayed a “great comfort level there” and was performing at a high level.

Greg Bell will be in at running back for Hamilton in place of James Butler.


HISTORY ON OUR SIDE: The Ticats share the longest current win streak in the CFL over a single team, having won the last 10 meetings against the Redblacks.

DYNAMITE DEVONTE: DeVonte Dedmon is the CFL’s all-time leader in kick return TD frequency. In 26 career games, he has six kick return touchdowns, including the only one recorded in 2024 – a 101-yard kickoff return last week.

KEEP IT GOING: Hamilton’s Kiondre Smith carries a three-game TD reception streak into Sunday. He had just one TD in 36 career games before this season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2024.

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