Eskimos pink-power their way past Riders
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Edmonton's Kerry Joseph prepares to throw before being sacked by Saskatchewan's Diamond Ferri during to the Edmonton Eskimos CFL game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Saturday, October 13, 2012. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI AGENCY)
EDMONTON - With their backs up against the wall in the West Division, the last-place Edmonton Eskimos weren't the only ones happy to see the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lose on Friday night.
After a 37-20 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium in front of 38,678 on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the Eskimos aren't booking their flight down east for a post-season crossover just yet.
The win not only put the Eskimos one game back of the third-place Roughriders in their own division, but handed them a 2-1 tie-break in their season series, while the Roughriders are left peeking at a possible crossover situation.
Facing his former squad, running back Hugh Charles earned his second 100-yard rushing game of both the season and his career to propel an Eskimos offence that scored five touchdowns-worth of points for the second week in a row.
And, again for the second week in a row, the Eskimos defence held the opposition to 20 points.
The Roughriders were on the board first after a wacky opening series by the Eskimos that saw long-snapper recover a punt bobbled by return man Tristan Jackson on Saskatchewan's 29 yard-line, only to give the ball right back on the next play.
Making his return after sitting out the past two games with a rib injury, Eskimos slotback Cary Koch caught a short pass before having the ball forced out by Roughriders cornerback James Patrick and picked up by safety Craig Butler for a 59-yard return.
It led to a four-play Roughriders drive that covered 37 yards and ended with a two-yard touchdown pass to Weston Dressler and a 7-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.
After going two-and-out on their next drive, the Eskimos caught a break when Roughriders punter Sandro DeAngelis pooched a two-yard punt that was caged by linebacker Simoni Lawrence on Saskatchewan's 22 yard-line.
Kerry Joseph turned the next snap into a touchdown pass to slotback Fred Stamps in the back corner of the end zone to tie the score 7-7 to close out the first frame.
The Eskimos took over a lead they wouldn't relinquish on a 30-yard field goal by Grant Shaw to open the second quarter.
After missing last week with a knee injury, Eskimos middle linebacker and league-leading tackler J.C. Sherritt marked his return with his fourth interception on both his season and his career.
It set up a three-yard touchdown reception at the back of the end zone by Koch, who earned a little redemption for the earlier catch that got away as well as a 10-point lead for the Eskimos.
Shaw extended it to 13 points with a 35-yard field goal, after wide receiver Nate Coehoorn had the ball slip from his grip on the fly with nothing between him and the end zone.
But DeAngelis hit from 29 yards out to trail the Eskimos 20-10 heading into halftime.
The third quarter started with Stamps drawing a 33-yard pass interference penalty against Roughriders defensive halfback Eddie Russ, before Charles took charge to finish off a four-play, 80-yard drive and lead 27-10.
He first completed his first career pass after taking the handoff from Joseph and throwing it back to his quarterback for a 14-yard gain and a first down, before carrying it 27 yards on a sweep into the end zone for his eighth back-flip of the season.
Eskimos cornerback Joe Burnett got his offence the ball right back on Edmonton's 27 yard-line with his league-leading sixth interception of the season.
A 27-yard reception by Marcus Henry set them up in the end zone before running back Jerome Messam fumbled the ball on a force by linebacker Shomari Williams and recovered by defensive tackle Robert Rose.
Following a two-and-out by the Roughriders, Henry caught another pass for 18 yards to set up a 10-yard touchdown by Coehoorn for a little redemption of his own and a 34-10 lead.
After Saskatchewan's offence finally showed signs of life on a 35-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Taj Smith that set up first-and-goal before Durant hit Scott McHenry for the touchdown and followed up by scrambling for a two-point convert.
The fourth quarter started just like the third, with a pass-interference call against Russ, before Shaw made his third of four field-goal attempts on the day.
Shaw then knelt out a safety for the victory.