Esks escape nightmare scenario

Edmonton Eskimos' Derick Armstrong is tackled by Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Clint Kent (Codie...

Edmonton Eskimos' Derick Armstrong is tackled by Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Clint Kent (Codie McLachlan/QMI Agency)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos don't have to hit up a costume shop to look like playoff contenders.

All eyes are now on the B.C. Lions game Sunday, following a 16-13 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a defensive duel at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday night.

“I love it, that was a nice defensive game,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall.

“We did what we had to do, we found a way through Hell or high water. They made plays when they had to make plays.”

A Lions loss would mean the Eskimos claim the third and final playoff spot in the West Division, while a win would cause a push to Week 19’s regular-season conclusion, where Edmonton only has to finish tied with B.C.’s record to reach the post-season, thanks to holding a 2-1 season-series advantage.

But the Eskimos almost let the opportunity slip away after Bombers kicker Justin Palardy forced overtime with a last-second 26-yard field goal, before hitting another from 37 yards out to open the extra end.

Eskimos running back Daniel Porter covered 35 yards on two carries to score the game’s only touchdown.

“We had a slow start, but we already knew we were going to be in a dogfight anyway,” said Porter, who finished with 102 yards to mark his third-consecutive triple-digit rushing performance since becoming a CFL starter.

“Coach trusted in us to get the ball down and pound the rock.”

After not giving up a turnover a week ago, Eskimos quarterback Jared Zabransky gave away one in each of the four quarters of regulation.

“To have a defence play as well as we played and keep us in the football game and win it for us, basically, and our offensive line and entire team not giving up on each other,” said Zabransky, who finished 14 of 29 pass attempts for 120 yards and the four picks, while adding 97 rushing yards.

“After the second or third pick, they could have been like: ‘This is BS, Zee, we’re done with you.’ ”

Porter had a 44-yard touchdown run called back 35 yards on a holding call to set up a 37-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead with three minutes remaining in regulation.

After a 4-4 first half solved nothing, Bombers running back Fred Reid had a 55-yard run that set up a 46-yard field goal by Palardy.

Getting a head start on trick-or-treating, the Eskimos kept their next drive alive on a fake punt that was a direct snap to running back Calvin McCarty.

He turned it into a 37-yard run that set up a 13-yard field goal to tie the score at 7-7 heading into the final frame.

“Coach (Noel) Thorpe, he called it and everybody executed,” said McCarty. “It was designed to go outside, but being a running back I cut back inside and made a play.”

The first quarter was a defensive tug-of-war, with the only points coming off of Winnipeg’s opening drive, which ended with a 38-yard field goal by Palardy, followed by a 49-yard single by punter Mike Renaud.

Then with just over two minutes left in the half, punter Derek Schiavone finally scored Edmonton’s first point on a 72-yard single to an underwhelming ovation from the home crowd of 32,192.

He then knocked in a 17-yard field goal to tie the score, 4-4, at half time.


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