Eskimos 21 Redblacks 16
OTTAWA — The Edmonton Eskimos breathed a sigh of relief Saturday night as they snapped a four-game losing streak with a 21-16 win over the Ottawa Redblacks.
“It’s a huge win for us, we needed it,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “It’s been a long four weeks and we take it one at a time, but they still get long when you don’t win. I’m very proud of our guys for fighting all night.”
It wasn’t always pretty for the Eskimos (7-7), but the win improved their chances of earning the crossover playoff spot, with Ottawa’s post-season chances growing more slim.
“We were just looking at winning one game,” said Eskimos wide receiver Greg Ellingson. “It wasn’t really about the playoffs or anything past this game. It was just focus on Ottawa and getting the win this week.”
The Redblacks (3-11) dropped their seventh straight and are tied with the B.C. Lions for the longest losing streak of the season.
“We came up short and I’m disappointed,” said Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell. “Fighting all the way to the end and literally came up short by a few inches.”
The Eskimos are without starting QB Trevor Harris for the indefinite future, but Logan Kilgore was solid going 19 for 28 for 223 yards with one passing and one rushing touchdown.
“He had some very good plays made and some stuff that’s easy, I think when he looks at the film, to correct that he wishes he could have back,” said Maas. “Those are things to learn from. He’s making the game, at times, a little too difficult and not just taking what’s there, but ultimately when the play has to be made, he’s been able to do that.”
Kilgore snapped a 14-14 tie and regained the lead with 2:52 remaining when he connected with Tevaun Smith for a 17-yard TD pass.
Dominique Davis and Jonathan Jennings shared QB duties for the Redblacks.
Davis got the bulk of the workload, playing most of the second half before being injured. He finished 15 for 23 for 215 yards and one rushing TD, while Jennings was 7 for 8 for 58 yards.
With time running short Ottawa got to the Eskimos 31, but turned the ball over on downs, falling just short of a first down to keep the drive and its chances alive.
“I’m glad we competed at least,” said Jennings. “We got things rolling. (Davis) got some stuff rolling in the second half. We had an opportunity and the defence did a good job of keeping us in the game, but inches short. It’s a game of inches and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t have another chance at the end zone.”
Trailing 14-6 to start the fourth quarter, the Redblacks made it a game. Lewis Ward hit a 52-yard field goal and Davis drove the ball down field to the one-yard line before a rushing TD tied the game 14-14.
It was the Redblacks first offensive TD in three games.
With under five minutes remaining, Davis fumbled the snap and while he managed to recover the ball, he was sacked and appeared to injure his left arm or shoulder on the play. Campbell had no update following the game.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, the Eskimos marched the ball down field and Kilgore rushed for a one-yard TD to take a 14-3 lead.
Edmonton took a 7-3 lead into the locker room on two field goals, 50 and 47 yards respectively, from Sean Whyte and Ottawa conceded a single early in the second quarter.
Both teams struggled to build any momentum in the first half.
Kilgore was sacked twice by J.R. Tavai and the tandem of Jennings and Davis had its share of troubles.
Jennings had two series before being replaced by Davis. Davis drove the Redblacks into field goal territory on his second series in the first quarter with Ward connecting from 42 yards to take a 3-0 lead.
On the following series, Davis was sacked and threw an incomplete pass and was then replaced by Jennings, who took the next three series, but was sacked consecutive times late in the half.
“It was extremely disappointing on our part,” said offensive lineman Alex Matteas. “It was way below what we expect to play. We need to be pretty harsh on ourselves because we can’t put our team in that position.”