September 2, 2008
Stomping on StampsThis was a statement win for the Esks
By JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA
CALGARY -- For the first time in three seasons, the Edmonton Eskimos have made a major positive statement to the entire CFL.
The Green and Gold are now in sole possession of second place in the West Division after hammering the Calgary Stampeders 37-16 in yesterday's Labour Day battle at McMahon Stadium.
But the statement doesn't stop there for a club that hasn't made the playoffs since 2005. With a 6-3 record, the Esks already have more wins than last year's 5-12-1 club.
And the 2006 Eskimo edition didn't reach the six-win mark until late October.
But for this year's crew, the most important part of yesterday's win might be the fact it came on the road against a divisional opponent - something that hadn't happened since Sept. 30, 2006.
"To win in Calgary on Labour Day is huge for momentum and confidence," said Edmonton linebacker Shannon Garrett, whose club is two points out of first place.
And while quarterback Ricky Ray gets some headlines for his 376 yard passing game with three touchdowns, the Eskimos' improved depth across the board gets plenty of credit for the win.
INJURY BUG BITES AGAIN
Already without several key veterans - receiver Jason Tucker, offensive lineman Dan Comiskey, defensive Fred Perry, returner Tristan Jackson, defensive back Lenny Williams - Edmonton lost two more starters yesterday.
But even with starting running back AJ Harris and defensive end Montez Murphy missing for the second half, the Esks still rolled up 496 offensive yards and kept Calgary's high-powered machine to just 268 yards.
"We have learned over the last couple of years that you need to have enough depth," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.
After watching Harris run for 34 yards on six carries on the opening scoring drive - including a nine-yard run to the end zone - the Esks lost him in the second quarter to a calf injury.
The Esks took a 12-9 lead to the locker-room at halftime thanks to a 13-yard field goal from Noel Prefontaine on the second to last play of the second quarter.
After the Stamps offence struggled in the first half, failing to score a major in three trips into the red zone, Calgary appeared to be heading in the right direction when they marched nearly the length of the field to open the third quarter with a touchdown.
But Edmonton scored 25 unanswered points to win the game, as Ray spread the ball across the field and let Calvin McCarty ramble with the rock.
Kamau Peterson finished the tilt with 113 receiving yards and a touchdown while Kelly Campbell had 106 yards.
But Fred Stamps had two receiving majors - one with 2:14 left in the third quarter and the other with 5:17 remaining in the game.
MCCARTY CARVES UP D
And in between those moments of endzone glory, Calvin McCarty burned valuable time off the clock while running the ball through the No. 1-ranked rush defence in the CFL.
"He did an absolutely amazing job," said Harris on his running back replacement.
McCarty had 73 yards on 12 carries for an impressive 6.1-yard average.
"We got a solid group of guys here that have bought in to what we are trying to do," added Maciocia.
"Having said that, we are only halfway through this thing."
Now at the halfway mark of the regular season, Edmonton and Calgary meet in the Labour Day rematch on Friday at Commonwealth Stadium.