Esks give up a CFL record two return touchdowns

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Kenny Onatolu could hardly believe his eyes when he saw Montreal rookie Larry Taylor blaze a trail to the end zone for a second time yesterday.

"One (punt return major) is terrible, but two is not called for," said Onatolu, a member of the Edmonton Eskimos' special teams unit.

"It was like - are you serious?"

That second punt return major by Taylor yesterday - 97 yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter after a 62-yard touchdown in the second quarter - made CFL history.

Taylor became the first player to ever notch two punt returns for touchdowns in a playoff game.

"I saw guys in position to make plays and didn't make the play," said Edmonton special teams co-ordinator Noel Thorpe.

"It is something that has hurt us. We've got to make sure we execute."

The Esks spent plenty of time in practice working on stopping Montreal's return game - but it clearly didn't get through to enough players.

"Obviously, we didn't get it done," continued Onatolu.

"We worked all week on staying in our lanes. I think a few times we got out of our lanes."

Onatolu was nailed for missing a tackle on the second return. Long snapper Taylor Inglis missed on a clear tackle attempt on the first return by Taylor.

The Eskimos did produce a blocked punt for a touchdown and a return major by Tristan Jackson in the final minute.

"We can't trade one for one (on returns)," said Thorpe.

"We had momentum after the blocked punt (in the first quarter).

"The effort level is there and the execution (level) on those two majors was not."

Veteran linebacker Shannon Garrett also chimed in.

"If you give up two punt returns for touchdowns, you should lose the game."

And that they did, falling 36-26.

FINISH LINES ...

The special teams unit was also hit with a costly penalty in the second quarter.

Rookie Tyler Clutts was called for holding on a punt return that wiped out field position near midfield.

Instead, Edmonton scrimmaged at its 22 yard line. That drive eventually stalled and produced a field goal.

PARTING SHOTS ...

Mike Maurer produced two special teams tackles for the Esks. And that might not be the last time Maurer wears an Eskimos' jersey. After coming out of retirement this fall for the stretch run of the season, he might follow the same path next year.

"A full season is not an option," said Maurer, referring to family and work commitments in Regina.


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