TORONTO — Tristan Jackson’s 75-yard punt-return touchdown earned the unbeaten Ottawa Redblacks a 30-20 road win over the Toronto Argonauts on Wednesday night.
Jackson broke three tackles en route to snapping a 20-20 tie at 4:19 of the fourth quarter for Ottawa (3-0-1), the CFL’s lone unbeaten squad. The first punt return TD in Redblacks’ history ensured quarterback Trevor Harris’s return to Toronto was a triumphant one.
Harris spent four seasons with Toronto — going 9-7 as the starter last year while incumbent Ricky Ray recovered from off-season shoulder surgery. He signed with Ottawa this off-season as a free agent and assumed the No. 1 job after veteran Henry Burris suffered a hand injury in the season opener.
Harris, the CFL passing leader, was a masterful 28-of-31 passing for 392 yards, his fourth straight 300-yard game. He also had a one-yard TD run in the third following a 77-yard completion to Greg Ellingson as the big play hurt Toronto (2-2).
Ottawa’s Chris Williams (25 catches, 493 yards, six TDs) came in as the CFL’s receiving leader but Ellingson had nine catches for 218 yards.
The Redblacks also earned a third straight road win to open the season. The last time an Ottawa team did that was 1976 when the franchise earned its last Grey Cup title.
With Ottawa’s win, road teams are a 9-3-1 this season.
Toronto fell to 0-2 at BMO Field before a disappointing gathering of 12,373. That’s less than half the 24,812 who watched the Argos drop a 42-20 decision to Hamilton in last month’s regular-season opener.
Ray was 24-of-32 passing for 249 yards and a TD and moved past Danny McManus (53,255) into fourth on the all-time CFL passing list. He also threw his 77th TD pass as an Argo, moving into second in club history behind Condredge Holloway (97).
Brandon Whitaker capped an 81-yard, 13-play march with a five-yard TD run at 13:01 of the third that put Toronto back ahead 20-17. An illegal contact penalty against Ottawa’s Abdul Kanneh erased Antoine Pruneau’s interception in the end zone and kept the Argos’ drive alive.
Rookie Cody Fajardo and Anthony Coombs had Toronto’s other touchdowns. Lirim Hajrullahu added two converts. Nic Grigsby scored Ottawa’s other touchdown. Chris Milo booted three converts and three field goals. Milo’s 31-yard field goal to end the second quarter cut Toronto’s half-time lead to 13-10, capping a smart 53-yard, nine-play drive.
Grigsby put Ottawa on the scoreboard with a four-yard run, the Redblacks first rushing TD of the season, at 7:54.
Fajardo culminated an impressive 92-yard, 12-play march at 5:28 with a one-yard touchdown run, his first CFL score.
Toronto opened the scoring with a rather confusing 55-yard, 10-play drive. Ray hit Phil Bates on a three-yard TD strike that was nullified by a procedure call. But after an Ottawa interception came back because of an illegal contact call, the Argos got the ball at the Redblacks three-yard line.
Coombs scored on a third-and-one gamble at 10:24.