Eskimos outlast Roughriders

Eskimos running back Jerome Messam romped past the 1,000-yard mark Friday night against the...

Eskimos running back Jerome Messam romped past the 1,000-yard mark Friday night against the Roughriders. (Codie McLachlan, QMI Agency)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos made sure the Saskatchewan Roughriders were a perfect 10 in 2011.

Gang Green finished the season 0-10 against West Division opponents after losing 23-20 in Friday night's regular-season finale at Commonwealth Stadium.

But they didn't go quietly.

Trailing 20-13 with three minutes left, Roughriders quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie hit wide receiver Chris Getzlaf on a 20-yard reception in the end zone to tie the score.

Bowman!

But it was Adarius Bowman who put the exclamation point on the Edmonton win, which secured his side its first home playoff game since 2004.

"It's going to be tough from here on in, no matter how far we go," said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed, whose rookie season as a CFL sideline sergeant ended up 11-7.

But that might have been different had Bowman not caught a 32-yard pass from Ricky Ray to set up the winning 27-yard field goal by Derek Schiavone with 42.5 seconds left on the clock.

Former Eskimos return man Tristan Jackson fumbled the ensuing return, which was scooped up by Edmonton's Delroy Clark to put the nail in the coffin of outgoing Roughriders head coach Ken Miller's career.

"I don't know, I'm kind of in the moment just enjoying this win right now," Bowman said. "I want to get the film and see the plays because the guys kind of had me jacked."

Warm-up period

But both squads started out anything but, taking a while to warm up in the first game of the season where the temperature dipped below freezing.

After a scoreless opening quarter, Getzlaf scored Saskatchewan's first passing touchdown in six and three-quarters games, since the second quarter against the Montreal Alouettes on Sept. 17 Ñ which he also caught.

The Eskimos answered on the following series with a 71-yard strike to Bowman, who tied the score on the way to passing the 1,000-yard-receiving mark on the season for the first time in his four-year CFL career.

Not to be outdone, Eskimos running back Jerome Messam tore up 29 yards on the ground to become the first Canadian to rush for 1,000 yards in a season in 11 years.

The play set up Bowman's second touchdown of the night, a 24-yard pass the slotback had to fight defenders off to reach the flag and lead 14-7 at halftime.

Getzlaf opened the third quarter going over the 1,000-receiving-yard mark himself, after heading into the game 61 shy.

But it was overshadowed by some sideline facemask fisticuffs between Roughriders quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie and one of his receivers, Dallas Baker, after a good-looking drive fizzled into a 27-yard field goal by Chris Milo.

The two tried to reconcile on their next series, but the connection was broken up by Eskimos cornerback Rod Williams, who got his team-leading sixth interception.

Ray was picked off for the first time in three games after throwing up a duck to defensive back James Patrick.

After the the Roughriders offence couldn't convert the turnover into points, Schiavone hit his second of three field goals before his Roughriders counterpart scored on his second of two to pave the way for Getzlaf's tying touchdown.

"Saskatchewan did a great job," Bowman said. "I'm just excited with the effort and the things that our team did out there (Friday) night. Our team showed true character all year and I've been believing in these guys since back in camp.

"Every week, they proved me right."

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

@SunModdejonge


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