When the Edmonton Eskimos couldn’t get it going with their offence, their defence stepped up.
Deon Lacey had a six-yard interception return touchdown with less than a minute to play as the Eskimos snapped a three-game losing skid with a sloppy 23-12 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday.
“We fought, we battled all night, which our team does,” said Eskimos coach Jason Maas. “We realize it’s going to be tough to win every single week, but we’ve talked about it all along, we’re usually our worst enemy on the field and tonight it reared its ugly head again.”
The defending Grey Cup champion Eskimos improved to 3-4.
Edmonton needed the defence to come up big, with the Eskimos offence not getting the job done. Edmonton fumbled the ball away twice at the Montreal one-yard line when the club could have put the game away.
“Our defence played a great game and held strong and did what needed to be done,” said Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly, who scored the game’s lone offensive TD.
“Offensively, we’ve just got to clean a few things up. If we can get out of our own way, that’s a 40-point ball game, but if we don’t, it’s not.”
Montreal lost its second game in a row to drop to 2-5.
“It is deflating when you see guys fighting the whole game. The guys fought all the way to the end,” said Montreal quarterback Kevin Glenn, whose team was kept without a touchdown for the second time this season. “We can’t get into the end zone. We have to figure out a way to do that.
“I take blame for some of the stuff. I can’t throw a pick like that.”
The Eskimos looked great out of the gate on their opening drive, however it fell apart at the end of it as receiver Derel Walker fumbled the ball off of a Montreal defender at the one-yard line and turned it over. The Alouettes ended up conceding a two-point safety.
Edmonton made good on its second possession, as Reilly plunged in from one yard out, although the convert kick failed.
The Eskimos took an 11-0 lead early in the second quarter, settling for a 24-yard Sean Whyte field goal after an Adarius Bowman touchdown was disallowed following a Montreal challenge.
The Als responded with 44- and 33-yard field goals from newcomer Anthony Fera to make it 11-6 at the half.
Fera continued to chip away at the lead with a 19-yarder to start the third.
Edmonton continued to choke in scoring position with 3:44 left in the third, as running back John White fumbled on the way to the end zone, with Montreal’s Marc-Olivier Brouillette scooping it up at his own one-yard line. It ended in another Edmonton safety.
Fera kicked his fourth field goal of the game from 42 yards out to start the fourth and cut Edmonton’s lead to just one point.
The Eskimos made it 16-12 on a 22-yard Whyte field goal with 2:40 remaining in the fourth.
Montreal was pressing late, but JC Sherritt intercepted Glenn and ran it all the way to the Als six-yard line before fumbling it and turning the ball back over. However, two plays later, Lacey picked off Glenn again and took it into the end zone to seal the victory.
Both teams are on the road next week, as the Alouettes travel to Ottawa next Friday and the Eskimos are in Toronto next Saturday, Aug. 20.
Notes: Fera, who had only one CFL game on his kicking resume with the B.C. Lions, came in to replace struggling Montreal kicker Boris Bede? Edmonton’s offence was buoyed by the return of centre Justin Sorensen, who had missed the last two games with a separated shoulder? Montreal entered the match-up averaging a league-low 19.7 points scored per game.