Esks rushed to defeat

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray is tackled during second half action against the Calgary...

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray is tackled during second half action against the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Monday. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

CALGARY -- Henry Burris and Joffrey Reynolds have now joined the infamous list of players to pound a nail in the Edmonton Eskimos' coffin.

Desperately needing a win to start the second half of the season, the Edmonton Eskimos pulled their usual two-act stunt yesterday: they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot while letting opposing star players run over them.

Following in the footsteps of Milt Stegall, Geroy Simon and Chris Brazzell in the first half of the season, the Stamps' dynamic duo of Burris and Reynolds played a major hand in giving the defending Grey Cup champions yet another crushing loss.

When the final gun mercifully sounded for the Esks, Calgary had thumped them 44-23 to jump eight points ahead of the West Division cellar dwellers.

"It feels real good," said Reynolds. "We were able to be dominant."

THE STEAMROLLER

That's almost an understatement.

Reynolds steamrolled over the Esks for 96 yards and two touchdowns, while Burris passed for 310 yards and scampered for a highlight-reel 16-yard TD at the end of the first half.

"The rushing (against us) is atrocious," blurted linebacker A.J. Gass. "We're so much better of a team than that. And we have a lot of work before Friday."

And that is now the story. If the Esks can't find a way to drastically improve and eliminate huge plays by Friday's rematch, the coffin might be going in the ground.

Six points behind Saskatchewan for the final playoff spot in the West Division and five points behind in the East Division crossover race, the 3-7 Esks are staring at a difficult challenge to keep their 34-year playoff streak alive.

"We have to make more tackles, play with more intensity and be where we are supposed to be," said defensive end Adam Braidwood.

"And we have to be more disciplined."

All of that was on display in the killer final drive of the opening half, which essentially guaranteed the Esks' 2006 road winless streak would stretch to five games.

Already trailing 20-13 after watching Troy Davis fumble and Brian Clark return it 31 yards for a major, Edmonton appeared to be getting the ball back with 53 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Burris was scrambling to the sidelines with nobody to throw the ball to when Charles Alston aggressively pushed him out of bounds, drawing a roughing the passer call.

Giving Calgary new life, Burris capped the drive with one second remaining when he scampered 16 yards and dove into the end zone to make it 27-13.

ANOTHER TURNOVER

And while one play doesn't kill a game, the Esks couldn't help themselves in the second half by capitalizing on golden opportunities to get back in the tilt in front of 35,744 sun-drenched fans.

Defensive end Antico Dalton stripped Burris of the ball early in the third quarter and quarterback Ricky Ray found Trevor Gaylor on a broken play for a 32-yard major to pull within seven. But when the defence handed Ray yet another turnover early in the fourth quarter, the offence couldn't produce a single point.

"If you can't capitalize on good field position and turnovers, you are not going to win football games against a talented team," said guard Joe McGrath. "We got our asses kicked."

In the most critical Labour Day game in 35 years, truer words weren't spoken yesterday.


Videos

Photos