Eskimos 45 Roughriders 12
EDMONTON — Richie Hall officially kicked off his career as the head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos on Wednesday by putting the boots to his old team.
Rookie Eskimos quarterback Jared Zabransky completed 10-of-14 passes for 109 yards and one touchdown as Edmonton beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 45-12 in CFL pre-season action.
It was the first game as head coach of the Green and Gold for Hall, who was hired in the off-season after serving 15 years as a Saskatchewan assistant and defensive co-ordinator.
“I couldn’t have asked for a nicer script,” Richie, with an ear-to-ear grin, told reporters afterwards. “But keep things in perspective. It’s pre-season.”
The new coach did have plenty of praise for his offensive line: “They made some pretty big holes. I could’ve run through some of those holes.”
It was the Eskimos defence, however, that made life miserable for ’Riders starting quarterback Darian Durant in front of 34,793 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.
Durant, 26, is the man Saskatchewan is counting on to lead their inexperienced corps of signal callers.
The fourth-year import completed 7-of-12 passes for 68 yards and one interception before he was replaced by Steven Jyles midway through the second quarter.
Most of Durant’s completions were short swing passes and dump offs. He overthrew and underthrew receivers on many of the longer routes.
He also killed off a first-quarter drive in Eskimos territory by telegraphing a 20-yard sideline pass that defender Bobby Keyes easily picked off, stepping in front of receiver Chris Jones.
“I think I need to speed up my timing a little bit . . . quicken my reads up,” said Durant.
Zabransky, a 25-year-old from Boise State, led the Eskimos on a nine-play, 82-yard drive midway through the second quarter for his team’s first major. At the five-yard line, he hit a streaking Efren Hill with a perfect strike to the wide-side of the field, with the receiver catching the ball just inside the pylon.
“It just felt good. Things started going for me. I started seeing the field better. Things started slowing down,” said Zabransky.