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Thursday, June 7, 2018

PRESEASON: REDBLACKS 32 ARGONAUTS 17

GUELPH, Ont. - Dominique Davis showed again why the Ottawa Redblacks signed him this off-season to be their No. 2 quarterback.

Davis threw a TD pass and ran for another to lead Ottawa to a 32-17 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday night at Alumni Stadium in the final CFL exhibition game for both clubs.

Now Toronto and Ottawa have some tough decisions to make as CFL teams must make their final cuts by 10 a.m. ET on Sunday. The regular season kicks off Thursday night with the Edmonton Eskimos visiting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Toronto opens its season Friday night in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Ottawa has a first-week bye before entertaining the Riders on June 21.

Davis finished 18-of-23 passing for 167 yards in staking the Redlblacks to a 22-10 half-time lead. He made it a 12-point game with a 19-yard TD strike to Seth Coate with 19 seconds remaining in the second quarter before 3,921 spectators.

Ottawa signed Davis in the off-season to back up starter Trevor Harris after spending three seasons with Winnipeg. However Davis started just once in 47 appearances with the Blue Bombers.

"You can see he keeps more comfortable as he goes,'' Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell said of Davis. "You can literally see him growing as the days go by.''

Harris didn't play Thursday after suffering a lower-body injury in last week's 27-7 exhibition win over Montreal. Davis was eight-of-13 passing for 80 yards and a touchdown versus the Alouettes.

Danny Collins took over in the second half and was 8-of-12 passing for 100 yards for Ottawa while Aarion Penton had a 54-yard interception return TD in the third. Collins was 12-of-21 passing for 187 yards with one touchdown and one interception versus Montreal.

"This is a quarterback-driven league and you need multiple quarterbacks that can play well,'' Campbell said. "It's great to see all three of our guys come in and keep growing and doing a great job.

"That's what you need.''

Toronto played its home exhibition game at the Guelph Gryphons' home venue because BMO Field was unavailable due to mandatory maintenance on the playing surface.

Cedric O'Neal had Ottawa's other touchdown. Sergio Castillo added a field goal and convert while Rich Leone had a field goal and Ward Lewis had a convert.

Jonathan Epps and former Gryphon Alex Charette scored Toronto's touchdowns. Ronnie Pfeffer booted a field goal, single and convert.

James Franklin, who's battling McLeod Bethel-Thompson for the backup job behind veteran Ricky Ray, played the opening half and was not sharp. He completed 9-of-14 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown while rushing once for three yards.

But Franklin gave Ottawa's defence credit.

"Ottawa did a good job of taking away the primary reads,'' he said. "Some of those ones that seemed like it was like dumping it down it was because they were covering up everything else.

"But I was thankful for that because you don't get a lot of reps where you're hitting your fourth progression. I really did like the fact I had to get through all of my progressions.''

Bethel-Thompson started Toronto's 36-18 win last week in Hamilton, finishing 9-of-11 passing for 122 yards and two TDs while running for another. Franklin completed 8-of-10 passes for 73 yards with an interception while running twice for four yards in the second half.

Toronto head coach Marc Trestman was unsure whether the two exhibition games helped decide the backup quarterback situation.

"I really can't answer that right now,'' he said. "I don't think they hurt it, I don't know how much they helped it.''

The six-foot-one, 200-pound Charette was all smiles about returning to his alma mater, let alone providing Toronto with its biggest offensive play of the night.

"It was special,'' he said. "I don't think I've ever run faster (than on TD play).''

Trestman made it clear he was definitely a Charette supporter.

"It's like I've said all along, I want to find a way for Alex to make this team,'' Trestman said. "I said that to the team.

"He was a captain last week and I think he's a very meaningful guy.''

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)

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