GUELPH, Ont. — Now comes the hard part for Bob Dyce.
Quarterbacks Tyrie Adams and Dustin Crum both threw TD passes and ran for another to lead Ottawa to a 34-23 in CFL exhibition win over the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday night. Dyce, the Redblacks head coach, said he’s facing some tough decisions heading into the league’s final roster cutdown deadline of 10 p.m. ET on Saturday.
“Coming into the game we knew it was going to be tough,” Dyce said. “Now, coming out of it, it’s probably going to be tougher.
“Obviously we’ve got some work to do but some good performances out there.”
Ottawa finished the pre-season with a 1-1 record while Toronto was 0-2. Attendance at Alumni Stadium was not announced.
Ottawa played three quarterbacks in the contest, with Adams, Crum and Jake Dunniway combining to complete 19-of-26 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Adams and Crum also ran 12 times between them for 79 yards and two TDs.
“I was impressed with all three,” Dyce said. “Each was efficient in their own way throughout the game.
“There were times when we needed first downs or to move the ball off our goal line and they did it.”
Adams staked Ottawa to a 14-10 lead through the first. He completed all four of his passes for 139 yards and a touchdown and ran three times for 12 yards and a TD before giving way to Crum in the second.
Crum finished 12-of-18 passing for 83 yards and a TD while rushing seven times for 67 yards and a score. Dunniway completed three-of-four passes for 28 yards.
“The way (Adams) started the game really built the momentum for us and we were able to carry it from there,” Dyce said. “Someone told me he (Crum) is a gamer and that’s exactly what he showed.
“You can’t say anything bad about Jake either.”
B.J. Byrd, an American rookie receiver from Memphis, cut Toronto’s deficit to 20-17 with an electrifying 84-yard punt-return TD at 5:51 of the third quarter. But Crum’s nine-yard touchdown pass to Keaton Bruggeling at 7:58 restored Ottawa’s 10-point lead.
Alfredo Gachuz’s 17-yard field goal at 3:49 of the fourth pulled Toronto within seven. However, Crum’s one-yard TD run at 7:31 put the Redblacks ahead 34-20.
Gachuz connected from 42 yards out at 9:01.
“Sloppy,” Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said in describing his team’s performance. “We came out and played some younger guys and you know you’re going to have some growing pains there.
“We have some work to do but I think we have a lot of potential in that room, a lot of good football players. We have to come together, be better but it’s early.”
A.J. Ouellette had Toronto’s other touchdown. Gachuz added the converts and three field goals.
Siaosi Mariner scored Ottawa’s other touchdown. Lewis Ward booted the converts and three field goals.
Toronto starter Chad Kelly looked very sharp in his first exhibition appearance. Kelly played the opening quarter and completed four-of-five passes for 105 yards and had a seven-yard run before being replaced by rookie Cameron Dukes to open the second.
“I thought Chad played well, we got done with him what we needed to,” Dinwiddie said. “As for (Argos backup spot), we’ll see. I think a few guys have the potential to take that spot.
“I don’t think anyone has taken it away but we feel there’s some youth there.”
Dukes completed five-of-nine passes for 66 yards while rushing four times for 34 yards. Ben Holmes was two-of-eight passing for 33 yards and an interception and also had a 13-yard run while Bryan Scott was six-of-nine passing for 48 yards.
Ward’s 46-yard field goal to end the second quarter stretched Ottawa’s halftime lead to 20-10. Ward also hit from 35 yards out at 9:28.
Earlier in the quarter, Toronto drove to Ottawa’s 18-yard line but Dukes’ third-down pass to David Ungerer III in the end zone was incomplete.
Ouellette’s 13-yard TD run at 2:45 of the first capped a smart five-play, 63-yard Toronto drive on the opening possession of the contest. Ottawa countered with a five-play, 82-yard opening march of its own that Adams capped with a one-yard TD run at 5:56.
Gachuz’s 22-yard field goal at 9:20 put Toronto ahead 10-7. But Adams’ 57-yard touchdown pass to Mariner at 11:22 gave Ottawa a 14-10 advantage.
The ’23 regular season opens next Thursday with the B.C. Lions in Calgary to face the Stampeders. Ottawa opens June 10 visiting the Montreal Alouettes.
Toronto begins its Grey Cup title defence June 18 hosting the arch-rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2023.