Woulda, coulda shoulda

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

REGINA -- The offence couldn't score in the red zone.

The defence couldn't stop Wes Cates or big plays in the second half.

That is the story of another frustrating Edmonton Eskimos loss, this time a 34-13 defeat to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the regular-season opener last night.

Under head coach Danny Maciocia's reign, Edmonton has now won just one opening game in four years.

"We are a better football team than we showed out here," said Maciocia.

"We've just got to fix a few things and line up on Thursday (the next game against Calgary) and get after it."

The first thing that needs to be fixed are the offensive problems in the red zone - inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

With the game still on the line, Edmonton failed to find the end zone on three separate occasions inside the 20-yard line.

"The first time they brought a cover zero and I had to throw hot (a quick read) and they tackled us short of the first down," said quarterback Ricky Ray on the opening drive of the game.

Edmonton settled for a field goal for a 3-0 lead.

"The second time we just missed a guy in the corner of the end zone," continued Ray.

Noel Prefontaine kicked another short field goal to cut Saskatchewan's lead to 7-6 in the first half when that drive stalled.

"The third time, we had a penalty (too many men). You just can't make mistakes like that. We got to come away with touchdowns," explained Ray.

That third trip to the doorstep of Saskatchewan's end zone led to Prefontaine's third field goal to give Edmonton a 10-9 lead early in the second half.

But from there, the Rider onslaught started. Cates - the player the Eskimos coaching staff spent plenty of time studying this week - put the Riders back in the lead with a 10-yard touchdown run with 5:59 left in the third quarter to make it 16-10.

That was just the beginning, as the Riders outscored Edmonton 25-3 to end the game.

"We gave up too many runs," said Edmonton linebacker Shannon Garrett.

"The fourth quarter - we are supposed to be strong. We gave up too much.

"The play that broke our back was the double move by No. 12 (Adarius Bowman) down the sidelines."

That was a 73-yard touchdown when Bowman beat Jordan Younger on the sidelines and then made a great catch in front of a diving Jason Goss before scampering to the end zone.

That highlight play on a perfect pass from Marcus Crandell put Saskatchewan on top 27-13.

From there, Cates took over - ratttling off a 33-yard run and then a 12-yard romp to the end zone to put the final nail in the coffin.

Cates finished with 86 yards on the ground, 49 yards receiving and two TDs.

In total, Saskatchewan had 377 yards of total offence while Edmonton had a respectable 306. That just further illustrates the problems scoring majors.

"We should have had at least 35 points based on the times we were in the red zone and amount of time we had the ball," said Esks receiver Kamau Peterson.

Indeed, Edmonton had the ball for 33:07 minutes compared to 26:53 for the Riders.

Finish lines

Esks OL Dan Comiskey has an ankle injury and will be out a few weeks, said Maciocia.


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