Eskimos win nail biter against Roughriders
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Eskimos Shawn Lemon (left) and Ted Laurent tackle Roughriders running back Kory Sheets at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., Aug. 10, 2012. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)
EDMONTON - It got a lot more salty than pepa-ry at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday.
Amid the largest crowd the CFL has put together all season, 43,178 strong, on a night where rappers Salt-N-Pepa provided a blast-from-the-past of a halftime show, the Edmonton Eskimos upended the Saskatchewan Roughriders 28-20 to get rid of a bitter taste that had been in their mouth.
The win not only made up for an embarrassing 17-1 loss in Regina, but pushed the Eskimos into a first-place tie with the B.C. Lions atop the West Division with 4-2 records.
“The game in Saskatchewan, that wasn’t us,” said Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles, who completed 18 of 23 pass attempts for 282 yards and a touchdown in his best performance of the season Friday. “That was just out of character. When we played that ball game, offensively we knew we gave them that win.”
But they took it right back this time around.
After trading field goals in the opening quarter, Jyles delivered a perfect 30-yard touchdown pass on second-and-23 to slotback Cary Koch down the sidelines over defensive halfback Eddie Russ to take a 10-3 lead to open the second.
“The play was actually messed up for a second because we didn’t have one of our receivers come over,” Jyles said. “But we had a concept where it still works, execute the outside, and Cary did a great job.
“I just trusted him and gave him a chance to catch the ball.”
Koch celebrated the seven-play, 87-yard drive that took 3:15 with a Usain Bolt pose along with fellow receivers Fred Stamps and Nate Coehoorn in the end zone.
But the Riders tied ’er up in spectacular fashion.
A Darian Durant pass intended for Weston Dressler was booted by diving Eskimos defensive back Weldon Brown, went through the hands of cornerback Rod Williams and was scooped up by Taj Smith, who rambled 57 yards to the Edmonton 13 yard line.
Backup quarterback Drew Willy punched in a one-yard keeper to knot the score at 10-10 heading into halftime.
Durant took matters into his own hands — and feet — with a 27-yard scamper to cap a seven-play, 78-yard drive that chewed up 4:42 to take a 17-10 lead.
But the Eskimos weren’t about roll over, with Jyles finding receiver Matt Carter 41 yards downfield to the Saskatchewan seven yard line on the ensuing drive.
Grant Shaw finished it off with a 17-yard field goal.
But where their offence couldn’t finish off, the defence picked up, with defensive halfback Chris Thompson forced Dressler to fumble the ball, which was scooped up and ran 44 yards to the end zone by cornerback Joe Burnett.
His second touchdown of the season, which put the Eskimos ahead 20-17, goes along with a 76-yard interception return he had against the B.C. Lions in Week 4. And with it, he now has more than all-star slotback Fred Stamps.
Eskimos punter Burke Dales added a 62-yard single through the end zone to push the lead to four points to open the fourth quarter.
Edmonton added to their tally with a six-yard touchdown sweep by running back Calvin McCarty, after backup quarterback Kerry Joseph came in to feint the QB keeper, which the Roughriders defence bit on.
But Riders running back Kory Sheets came up with a 76-yard catch and run that set them up in the red zone, only to end in a 17-yard field goal to trail by eight with three-and-a-half minutes left.
Eskimos middle linebacker J.C. Sherritt came up with his first CFL interception and Thompson picked off a dying-second Hail Mary to close out the game.
“It’s a huge win for us,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “Next week is going to be a huge game for us. Those guys are very focused and I’m very proud of the focus they showed.
“We are working on every week being a season and next week is another season.”