Esks win nailbiter
The Edmonton Eskimos spent the past seven days in Ottawa and waited until the last possible moments to leave as ungracious guests.
A 27-yard field goal by Grant Shaw with 20 seconds remaining in the game gave the Eskimos a 10-8 win over the Ottawa Redblacks Friday night.
After a 33-23 win over the Alouettes in Montreal last Friday, the Eskimos moved onto Ottawa where they stayed in preparation and anticipation of their game against the Redblacks.
The Eskimos drove from their own nine-yard line in the dying minutes after recovering a fumble as the Redblacks were looking to get some insurance points late in the fourth quarter.
“I was just doing my job and all the credit goes to the offence at the end and they put together a drive that put us in short field goal range and those should be automatic,” Shaw said.
“It was definitely a defensive battle and both offences struggled to find the end zone, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. I can’t wait to get back to my wife and get back to my own home. Ottawa’s been fun but we’re all excited to go home.”
A Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game was batted down by the Edmonton defence to give the Eskimos (6-1) their second win in a row.
The Redblacks (1-6), who got two field goals and two singles from kicker Brett Maher, led from the opening drive of the game but still saw their losing slide hit four games.
Maher collected all his points in the first half as the Redblacks defence put in their best performance of the year in not allowing an Edmonton touchdown.
“Our whole defensive backfield, all six guys, were first-year CFL guys so I was proud of them with stepping up and not being phased in the moment,” Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said.
“I am proud of our guys. They work hard, they’re trying to do the right things and that’s kind of our formula of the way to play football to be competitive and give ourselves a chance to win games, to stay away from penalties, to play well on special teams and obviously we want to get it to where we can win a game.”
There were several key plays in the second half, including an interception, fumble and turnover on downs by the Eskimos, but none was bigger than the Redblacks first turnover of the game.
“We’ve had the same situation happen and it’s frustrating,” said Redblacks quarterback Henry Burris, who was 18-for-28 passing for 255 yards.
“Not finishing drives and little mental mistakes has been killing us. It was visible the things we did on offence moving the ball against a great defence, but when you don’t finish all drives and you let a good team like them hang around they’re going to find a way to win in the end.”
Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly completed 26 of 35 passes for 271 yards and an interception.
A 28-yard field goal from Shaw was the only scoring of the third quarter and it pulled the Eskimos to within a single point of the Redblacks at 8-7.
After some missed opportunities the Eskimos looked poised to take their first lead of the game, but a third-and-one gamble on the Ottawa 12-yard line could not be converted as Pat White was brought down an inch short.
The Redblacks took over on downs and were aided by a roughing the passer call that kept the drive alive.
That drive though, that stared on their own 12, ended on the Eskimos nine-yard line with the Matt Carter fumble.
The Eskimos then drove the field for the winning score.
“The win last week against Montreal we played great in the first half and then we didn’t play well in the second half,” Eskimos coach Chris Jones said.
“Tonight we struggled with some of the same things that hurt us earlier in the year, meaning penalties, fumbling the football, throwing interceptions, so we’ve got something we really have to clean up.”
The win would have been sweet redemption for the Redblacks, who fell 27-11 to the Eskimos back in Week 3.
The first half of Friday’s game played out similarly to the first half of the game in Edmonton back on July 11. The Redblacks led 7-2 at the midway point that night and went into the half Friday with an 8-4 lead.
Maher gave the Redblacks a 1-0 advantage on the first drive of the game with a single on a missed 51-yard field goal attempt. He redeemed himself with a 17-yard field goal late in the first quarter.
The Eskimos got their first point of the game on a 52-yard punt single from Shaw just 42 seconds into the second quarter. After Maher connected on a 20-yard field goal to give the Redblacks a 7-1 lead, Shaw returned the favour with a 39-yard field goal of his own to make it a three-point game once again.
The footwork wasn’t finished there though as Maher had another single, this one off a 60-yard punt.
The Eskimos tried for a 50-yard field goal late but it was wide and run out of the end zone to end the half.