Buoyed by the arm and legs of their young quarterback Dustin Crum, the Ottawa Redblacks won their second straight in overtime with a 43-41 victory Sunday over the host Calgary Stampeders.
The Redblacks (3-3) picked up their first road win and also won back-to-back games for the first time this CFL season.
“Just a lot of firsts and a confidence-booster,” Crum said. “Just to be able to know what we’re capable of when we’re playing and executing at our highest level, to be able to take that moving forward will be huge.”
A week after Crum’s late rushing touchdowns, including one in OT, spurred the Redblacks to an OT upset of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the 24-year-old was effective again in the air and on the ground Sunday.
Crum threw an interception-free 23 passes for 257 yards and a pair of touchdown throws. The Kent State alum also rushed for 63 yards, including a two-point convert.
Ottawa cashed two interceptions and a fumble by Calgary quarterback Jake Maier into three touchdowns.
“Any time you can win the turnover battle is huge,” Crum said. “You look at the scoreboard. You give up 40 points and you’re going to think your defence played bad, but them getting three turnovers for us was huge and allowed us to honestly win that game in the end.”
The Redblacks scored a pair of two-point conversions, which Crum credited to the schemes of Ottawa offensive coordinator Khari Jones.
Calgary went 0-for-3 attempting an extra two points after touchdowns.
Crum has amassed 667 passing yards, rushed for 257 and thrown four touchdown passes in just over two-and-a-half games since Jeremiah Masoli ruptured his Achilles tendon in the second quarter July 10 against Hamilton.
“As he continues to grow, and we continue to have success, it builds confidence in everybody and our confidence in Dustin,” Redblacks head coach Bob Dyce said.
Redblacks’ Ante Milanovic-Litre ran for a pair of touchdowns, including one in extra time. Nate Behar caught a touchdown pass plus the two-point convert throw in overtime to seal the victory.
Justin Hardy caught a touchdown pass and Brandin Dandridge ran an interception back for a major.
Ottawa’s Lewis Ward kicked field goals from 33 yards and 36 yards and added another three points in converts.
The Redblacks top the CFL in defending the run. Calgary took to the air Sunday while rushing for a season-low 38 yards.
Maier threw for a season-high 450 yards, including four touchdown passes and two interceptions. He was denied three times, however, attempting two-point convert throws.
Marken Michel caught a pair of touchdown passes, Clark Barnes scored his first career CFL touchdown, backup quarterback Tommy Stevens contributed a rushing major and Tre Odoms-Dukes caught a touchdown pass in OT for the Stampeders (2-4).
Kicker Rene Paredes was good from 26 yards, 32 yards and 47 yards, and made one of two converts in front of an announced 21,226 at McMahon Stadium.
“We made some explosive plays. We didn’t do too bad controlling the line of scrimmage pass-wise, but we didn’t get the running game going again,” Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson said.
“We could have won that game. We feel like we should have, but we didn’t.”
The Stampeders dropped to 0-3 at home with a second straight OT loss at McMahon.
“Winning breeds winning and we don’t want to wait until the last drive,” Dickenson said. “We’ve got to put the pedal down when we have that momentum and put somebody away. We really haven’t done that.”
Odoms-Dukes scored in OT with a seven-yard catch, but Maier couldn’t get the ball to Barnes in the end zone for an extra deuce.
Ottawa countered with Milanovic-Litre’s second major of the game on a three-yard dash. Crum’s throw to Behar for another two points sealed the Redblacks’ win.
Trailing by a point at halftime, Calgary jumped ahead 25-20 on its first possession of the second half.
The visitors pulled ahead again for a 28-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter, when Calgary punter Cody Grace cut the deficit to two points with a punt single.
From deep in their own zone following an Ottawa punt, Maier threw to Michel for a 95-yard touchdown and a 32-28 lead with eight minutes to play.
Ottawa turned the ball over on downs, but Maier was subsequently intercepted a second time when his throw was tipped into the arms of Alonzo Addae.
Crum moved the chains on a 12-play, 87-yard drive and finished with a 23-yard touchdown throw to Behar. Ottawa led by a field goal on Ward’s convert with 1:20 to play.
The Stampeders’ offence pushed into field-goal range for Paredes to force OT with his 47-yard boot.
A 26-yard Tommylee Lewis punt return and a horse collar tackle by Abdul Kanneh put the Stampeders on Ottawa’s doorstep for Stevens to finish with a one-yard plunge on Calgary’s first drive of the second half.
After Levante Bellamy blocked Richie Leone’s punt, Jordan Herdmann-Reed landed on the loose ball to give Calgary possession on Ottawa’s 48.
But Calgary’s faked field goal and a Stevens run that came up short turned the ball over on downs.
Crum then marched Ottawa’s offence downfield to cap a 72-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown throw to Hardy. The Redblacks’ pivot then kept and ran for another two points.
Ottawa turned a pair of Calgary turnovers into a 17-6 lead early in the second quarter. The Stampeders responded with a 75-yard scoring drive that Michel finished with an over-the-shoulder catch for a 33-yard TD.
Lewis’s 33-yard punt return and Ottawa’s unnecessary roughness penalty put the ball on the Redblacks’ 36 with a minute to play in the second quarter, but the Stampeders settled for a Paredes 32-yard field goal to trail 20-19 at the half.
Maier’s fumble handing the ball off to Dedrick Mills was recovered by Redblacks defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin to start the second quarter.
Crum ran the ball 28 yards to Calgary’s doorstep, followed by Milanovic-Litre’s three-yard carry to the end zone.
Dandridge picked off a Maier pass intended for Reggie Begelton for a pick six in the final minute of the first quarter. Ward’s convert spotted the visitors a 10-6 lead.
“I think I’ve turned the ball over every game that we played in and whether I’ve responded or not, eventually we’ve got to eliminate those so that we can give ourselves some more breathing room and not feel like we have to overcome ourselves,” Maier said.
On Calgary’s second drive of the game, Maier threw downfield to Barnes for a 54-yard catch and run to the end zone.
The Stampeders led 6-3 after Paredes missed the convert. Ottawa scored a 33-yard field goal on its opening drive.
Temperature at kick off was 30 Celsius under slightly hazy skies at McMahon.
The Redblacks are at home to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-4) on Friday. The Stampeders travel to Montreal to face the Alouettes (2-3) on Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2023.
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