Esks' running men

Lions linebacker Solomon Elimimian tackles Eskimos running back Hugh Charles at BC Place in...

Lions linebacker Solomon Elimimian tackles Eskimos running back Hugh Charles at BC Place in Vancouver, B.C., Oct. 29, 2011. (NICK DIDLICK/Reuters)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:13 PM ET

EDMONTON - Hugh dat?

It was huge debut for Hugh Charles, who donned the Green and Gold on Saturday for the first time since being traded to the Edmonton Eskimos on Oct. 12.

The ex-Saskatchewan Roughriders running back averaged 5.5 yards on six carries to account for more than half of Edmonton’s 62 rushing yards, as he split duties with feature back Jerome Messam.

But the only numbers that count for Charles were on the scoreboard, which read 29-20 in favour of the B.C. Lions.

“Not the result (we wanted) at all,” said the five-foot-eight, 190-pound back out of Colorado. “We had a good game plan going in for these guys.

“As for my debut, for me, I came in here for a reason and they played me for a reason.”

It’s mainly because Charles’s speedy style is the ying to Messam’s yang-and-bang.

“It was great, and I think Messam can agree to, how they used both of us,” said Charles. “We can get our rest, because we were running a hurry-up offence at times, doing the rotation.

“And the defence for B.C. saw a little mixup of speed and a downhill runner that definitely threw them off-guard.”

But perhaps his most impressive play of the night didn’t come along the ground, but through the air.

Charles hauled down a clutch 40-yard toss from Ricky Ray to set up a Jason Barnes touchdown that drew the Eskimos within two points of their opponents late in the game.

“We talked about that early in the week that they’re leaving the middle of the field open, so we just threw one down the middle and he made a great catch with the (line)backer running with him,” said Ray, who passed for over 300 yards for the fifth time this season.

But all eyes were on Messam in a game where both sides only managed to combine for a paltry 120 rushing yards.

“It was just one of those games,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we shied away from the run, we were balanced. But they just did a good job stopping the run.”

His 17 yards on nine carries weren’t even half of the 36 yards he needed to reach the 1,000-yard milestone on the season.

“It would have been (nice), but it’s not the main focus though,” Messam said. “It’s just the way things go.”

While it would have been poetic justice for Messam to reach the feat against his former club — which severed ties with the running back on the demand of a group of his Lions teammates in the preseason — he said they haven’t seen the last of him.

“It’s a big possibility we’ll see them again in the Western Final,” Messam said. “So we’ll try to get them then.”

ROUGH RIDE: After spending the first part of the season with the Roughriders, Saturday was another missed opportunity for Charles to beat a West Division opponent in 2011.

Saskatchewan is 0-9 so far with one chance left on Friday, when they head to Commonwealth Stadium.

It is also Charles’s last chance at a western win.

“I haven’t yet. I’m on a mission now. You just stuck a little bird in my head,” Charles said. “It’s going to be fun to reunite with them and go head to head with the defence and finally they can try tackling me.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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