EDMONTON — It was the home opener for the Edmonton Eskimos, but it felt more like a pre-season game.
Kendial Lawrence scored a pair of touchdowns as the Eskimos handily won their home debut 46-17 over the Ottawa Redblacks on Thursday — in a game that featured all six quarterbacks.
Edmonton head coach Chris Jones was pleased with the performance of quarterback Matt Nichols, who had three touchdown passes filling in as starter with Mike Reilly out 10 to 12 weeks with a knee injury.
“I thought Matt did a real good job,” said Jones.
“He took care of the ball for the most part and I thought he moved the football.
“It was nice to be back home, the guys were excited about it yesterday and it certainly translated on the field tonight.”
Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell said it was a step back for his team after a solid 2-0 start to the season.
“We have to be all in and play with an edge and none of us were good enough tonight,” said Campbell. “They looked like they were a step faster and we were a step slower. The missed tackles and penalties killed us.
“We helped their cause. We took so many penalties in the first half that it is hard to play winning football that way. We have the makings of a good football team, but we were not good enough tonight.”
Edmonton caught a break early on as Ottawa’s opening possession ended with kicker Delbert Alvarado’s 43-yard field goal attempt hitting the uprights.
Ottawa’s next series was even less fortunate as QB Henry Burris was picked off in flight by Eskimo John Ojo and taken 57 yards into the end zone for a pick six.
Edmonton made it 14-0 with four minutes left in the first quarter on a nine-yard TD catch by Adarius Bowman from Nichols.
The Eskimos (1-1) extended their lead to start the second on a one-yard TD plunge by backup quarterback Jordan Lynch, which went unconverted to make it 20-0.
Edmonton just kept coming, adding a two-yard passing major from Nichols to Lawrence, also unconverted.
The Esks made it 29-0 on a 44-yard Grant Shaw field goal, set up by a 60-yard punt return by Skye Dawson.
Ottawa (2-1) finally got on the board with three minutes left in the first half as Nichols placed the ball in the hands of defensive lineman Zack Evans on what appeared to be a pitch attempt, and he huffed and puffed 65 yards to score on an interception return. The two-point convert made it 29-8.
Edmonton bounced back before the half ended as a 52-yard pass to Bowman set up an eight-yard TD strike from Nichols to Cory Watson. Ottawa responded with a field goal for a 36-11 score at the midmark.
Ottawa started the third with a field goal, but Edmonton bested that on the next series with a long drive capped off by an 11-yard TD run by Kendial Lawrence off a pitch from Lynch.
The teams traded fourth quarter field goals to cap off the scoring.