Esks: Parental guidance advised

Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Kai Ellis forces Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant...

Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Kai Ellis forces Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant to fumble the ball during Saturday's game at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:10 AM ET

EDMONTON - It was all Richard Hall’s fault. Not Richie Hall, the son. Richard the father. And Richie’s mom, Jean.

Where the hell have they been?

Jean and Richard Hall, who figure they’ve watched their son play or coach about 50 games in this league in person and only watched him lose about five times, watched Richie win another one Saturday.

“Their record stays intact,” said their son. “Their percentage is real good when they come up to visit me. Hopefully I can keep them up here for a few more months.”

It’s only the second time they’ve been here since he got the job as head coach of the Eskimos.

They were there for his first game last year, and they were two of 47,839 fans in Commonwealth Stadium Saturday as Hall’s Eskimos won their second game of the season, a 17-14 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“It feels good, even the way we won,” said Hall. “We beat a very good football team. We started slowly but we hung in there and won.”

Edmonton’s only other win was against the now 1-7 B.C. Lions, who are alone in the Western Conference basement.

It was not an easy game to write.

First of all, you have to find the ‘W’ on the keyboard.

It was one exceptionally goofy football game — which beat the heck out of the ghastly games that preceded it.

In all, there were 10 turnovers.

Both teams threw three interceptions. Saskatchewan gave up two fumbles, one being a blocked punt. And both teams turned the ball over once on downs.

The Eskimos came back from their bye week trying to con themselves into believing that the 1-6 start was last season and this signalled the beginning of a new season.

It looked like the same old season for starters. In giving up a 14-0 first quarter lead, it left the Eskimos outscored 36-1 in the first quarter of the last three games and 65-14 for theseason.

It began with Ricky Ray throwing an interception for a touchdown when Kelly Campbell ran the wrong route and James Patrick was the only player in the entire neighborhood.

An eight-play drive for 81 yards and it was 14-0.

Ray, clearly not ready to come back and play 60 minutes after huring his sternum and rib against Calgary two weeks ago, got the hook.

“Nobody wants to get benched. I’ve never been part of something like that,” said Ray who gave way to Jared Zabrasky and watched the former Boise State quarterback come in and work a shovel pass to running back Arkee Whitlock for a touchdown.

Zabransky made things happen with his legs and a whole different playbook, even if he couldn’t produce any further points despite three turnovers which gave the Eskimos the ball on the Saskatchewan 7, 8 and 53 yard lines.

He threw two interceptions and had been more or less solved by the Riders defence when Hall went back to Ray at the end of the game to put the Eskimos in position to win it.

Zabransky made Eskimos football fun to watch for a while there.

“He’s just a great athlete. He did some good things out there,” said Ray.

“You really have to credit our defence for their effort tonight,” added Whitlock, who scored Edmonton’s only touchdown.

“I think that was the biggest defensive effort we have had since I’ve been here.”

Indeed.

The much-maligned defence didn’t have a massive fourth quarter collapse.

More impressively, they didn’t give up a single point after the first quarter, and seven of those points were the result of a direct-to-the-end zone interception.

“We started stopping them. We started getting second down and outs. We kept our focus out there,” said Dario Romero.

“I can’t explain why, but there was a whole different kind of energy out there today. I can’t explain it.”

In the end, what won the day was a pair of field goals by Noel Prefontaine — from 52 and 37 yards — and a sensational catch of a Ray pass by Jason Barnes to set up the winner.

“At this point, because of the situation we’ve put ourselves in here, those rank as two of the most important kicks of my career,” said Prefontaine.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a pretty big win.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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