OTTAWA — Quarterback Mike Reilly and receiver Chris Getzlaf showed why the Edmonton Eskimos are the only undefeated team in the CFL this season with a pair of plays in the fourth quarter.
Reilly found Getzlaf in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass and then ran in the two-point conversion himself for the final score in a 27-20 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks on Thursday. Ottawa was never able to regain decent field position after that as Edmonton improved to 7-0.
“You’ve got to make the plays at the end when you need to make them and we did that,” said Reilly. “Getzlaf came up with a huge play with a touchdown in the end zone. That was the biggest play of the game for us was Getzlaf running a great run and coming down with that ball.”
Reilly was 27-for-38 passing for 384 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions as Edmonton expanded its lead in the CFL West. It now leads the Calgary Stampeders, who are idle this week, by three points in the division.
“It’s something special and I know it,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “I just love it because they’re a great, hard working group and they do it the right way on a week-to-week basis and I’m so happy we’re able to continue the streak.”
Ottawa is headed in the other direction.
Dejected, frustrated, and disappointed are just a few ways to describe the Redblacks (1-6-1), who haven’t won since July 19 against Montreal.
“We’re just not good enough right now,” said QB Trevor Harris. “We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and say we’re not good enough right know. We’ve got to be better. Everybody’s got to be better, including myself. I’ve got to be better. We’ve all got to step our game up and find ways to win.”
Harris was 26-for-37 for 266 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Redblacks.
Having trailed the entire game, the Redblacks took the lead midway through the third quarter as Harris connected with Diontae Spencer in the end zone for a nine-yard TD pass to tie the game 19-19. The convert gave Ottawa a one-point lead to the delight of the 23,851 on hand at TD Place.
When asked if it’s time to start a rebuild Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell defended his team.
“It’s way easier to tear something down than to build something,” said Campbell. “I still think there’s a lot of correct pieces here and players that are the right guys, but for whatever reason we’re not getting it done.”
Despite the accumulating losses players vow to stick together and turn things around.
“We’ve got to get over the hump,” said offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers. “I don’t know what it’s going to take to do that, but we’re going to keep working. I’m very frustrated, but we’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to keep moving along trying to get wins.”
Eskimos kicker Hugh O’Neil had four field goals, including a 42-yard one in the third quarter to give Edmonton a 19-13 lead.
With 31 seconds remaining in the first half Taylor Reed tipped Reilly’s pass and Imoan Claiborne snagged it for an interception. Ottawa marched down field and Brett Maher kicked a 40-yard field goal to get within three as Edmonton led 16-13 at intermission.
Ottawa’s Zack Evans came up with a huge sack on Reilly with Edmonton in scoring position, but was forced to settle for a 21-yard field goal to lead 16-10 in the second quarter.
An illegal block by Ottawa’s Andrew Marshall negated a 92-yard TD punt return by Quincy McDuffie. Ottawa settled for a 33-yard field goal on the ensuing possession to make it 13-10.
“That’s a game-changing play,” said Campbell.
Trailing 13-0 the Redblacks got back in the game early in the second quarter as Harris was able to connect with a couple receivers to gain favourable field position and completed it with a five-yard TD to Greg Ellingson to cut the Eskimos lead to six.
The Eskimos had jumped out to a 13-0 lead on 38 and 20-yard field goals as well as an opening drive TD, capped by a screened 35-yard pass to LaDarius Perkins and a successful convert.