OTTAWA – The solution to the Redblacks 11-game home losing streak seems to have been on the CFL club’s sideline all along.
Rookie quarterback Caleb Evans, making his debut appearance, threw for 191 yards and three touchdowns, while leading the team in rushing with 59 yards in his first career start as the hosts beat the visiting Edmonton Elks 34-24, on Tuesday night.
Both clubs are now 2-5 on the season.
Veteran receiver Kenny Stafford was impressed with the rookie.
“He came out here, commanded the huddle,” he said. “You can’t expect anything better from that.
“He came out like a proven vet.”
Coach Paul LaPolice was forced into using Evans after regular quarterbacks Dominique Davis, and Matt Nichols, were injured last week against Hamilton. Recently signed NFL pivot Devlin Hodges was not considered up to speed yet.
“He gave us hope all game,” said the coach, of Evans.
A Ryan Davis corner route two minutes into the game, gave the rookie quarterback his first taste of success.
Following a Greg Ellingson fumble on Edmonton’s opening offensive play, Evans made quick work of the short field, gaining 17-yards on a quarterback draw and finding Timothy Flanders on the next play for his second score of the game.
Once Ottawa struck early, the kick and punt return teams continued to be their best asset this season. Mainly the returner, Devonte Dedmon.
After a 42-yard return allowed the Redblacks to extend their lead, Dedmon would strike again scoring a 73-yard punt return touchdown to open the second half for Ottawa.
“You want to use him in all different ways,” said coach LaPolice. “He makes the special teams players better.”
On the night, Dedmon would finish with 151 punt return yards and 99 kick return yards, and a touchdown.
For the visiting team, with Taylor Cornelius starting his second straight game, the Elks’ offence got off to another slow start before the rookie from Oklahoma State started to move the ball.
They were finally able to reach the end zone just before the half when Cornelius connected with Manitoba product Shai Ross for a 77-yard touchdown.
Edmonton’s rookie was able to keep his team in the game in the middle of the third quarter as he found former Redblack Ellingson for an 18-yard score.
The comeback attempt would be stalled in the fourth quarter, however, when Brandin Danbridge dove to intercept Cornelius’ pass in the end zone. The Elks’ signal caller would finish the game with 334 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Ottawa and Edmonton would trade touchdowns late in the final frame. Evans hit Kenny Stafford for the Redblacks before Cornelius would connect with Ross on a shovel pass for the second time in the game.
After this unusual Tuesday night game, the Redblacks will take on the Toronto Argonauts next Wednesday at BMO Field while the Elks head to Winnipeg next Friday.