Labour pains for Esks

Eskimos' Mathieu Bertrand is dejected after losing to the Stampeders 35-24 during the Labour Day...

Eskimos' Mathieu Bertrand is dejected after losing to the Stampeders 35-24 during the Labour Day Classic at McMahon Stadium. (Sun Media/Jason Franson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

CALGARY -- Call it a double whammy.

Not only do the Edmonton Eskimos have sole possession of last place in the CFL West Division, they are facing more injury problems.

In a nutshell, it has become a Labour Day Classic to forget for those two reasons.

The Esks now hold an ugly 3-5-1 record after losing 35-24 to the Calgary Stampeders yesterday afternoon at McMahon Stadium.

CELLAR DWELLERS

Edmonton is now two points behind Calgary in the battle for third place and will have to field another new-look secondary on Friday in the rematch at Commonwealth Stadium.

But first comes the very uncomfortable digestion of watching a game tape that will show Calgary quarterback Henry Burris and receiver Ryan Thelwell ripping apart a battered secondary.

"We had a tough time defending the pass," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia on his secondary in the second half.

That qualifies as a significant understatement.

With new but very promising defensive back Lenny Williams gone with a knee injury for the entire second half, the Esks couldn't come close to holding a 21-15 halftime lead.

Calgary scored 17 unanswered points, shredding a defensive backfield that featured CFL rookies Chris Thompson and Jason Flowers along with J.R. LaRose and Jason Goss playing out of position.

Burris put up a staggering 382 passing yards and four touchdown strikes.

Thelwell set a Labour Day record with 199 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

But nobody in the Edmonton locker-room is completely hanging the game on the secondary.

While the offence scored 21 points in the first half - 17 off turnovers - with touchdowns from Tyler Ebell (21-yard run) and Trevor Gaylor (28-yard catch), it disappeared in the second half.

"We stunk it up as a unit (in the second half)," said Gaylor, referring to an offence that scored just three points in the final two quarters.

"You cannot force your defence to have to play that many snaps - especially against an explosive offence.

"You've got to score points in this league."

The defensive line didn't help, either.

"We let them move the ball up and down the field on us (in the second half)," said defensive end Adam Braidwood.

"We let them run the ball toward the end. We really didn't get some pressure.

"We basically did everything you could do wrong in the second half."

The third-quarter Calgary comeback started with Ken-Yon Rambo's second touchdown catch of the day.

Then the first of two massive body blows came from Thelwell, who was so wide open it was embarrassing.

Burning Thompson - who has just arrived into Edmonton this week - he could have crawled to the end zone on a 57-yard TD catch.

"I had my eyes on the backfield and by the time I looked back he was 10 yards in front of me," said Thompson.

"That was my man. It was bad on my part.

"I should have been locked on him."

COSTLY FUMBLE

The second blow came from Calgary defensive back Brandon Browner, who punched the ball loose from receiver T.J. Acree, who was streaking toward the end zone in the fourth quarter.

At 32-21, Edmonton never recovered.

Now, the Esks have to find another solution to their own secondary problems with Williams likely gone for an extended period of time.

GAME BALL

Ryan Thelwell, Calgary

Sets a Labour Day record with 199 receiving yards on seven catches. He also added two touchdowns.

GAME GRADES

Quarterback: A

Running back: A

Receivers: D

Offensive line: C

Defensive line: F

Linebackers: D

Secondary: F

Special teams: C

Coaching: C

OVERALL: C-


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