Eskimos hold on for win over Riders

The Edmonton Eskimos are still trying to find a way to put a complete game together.

Mike Reilly threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran in another as the Eskimos survived a late scare to come away with a 33-25 victory over the struggling Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday.

Edmonton led 22-0 in the second quarter before Saskatchewan rallied for 19 straight points, including 16 in the third quarter, to make it a game.

“We had a lull, for sure, in the third quarter,” Reilly said.

“It wasn’t a case of us letting our foot off the gas, it was a question of our execution being a little off. We executed real well in the first half, it dipped a bit in the third, but most of the fourth quarter was back up. Our defence played great, too.”

It was Edmonton’s third win in a row, upping their record to 5-4.

Eskimos head coach Jason Maas was pleased to see his team rack up 183 rushing yards.

“It’s nice to be able to do that against such a good run defence,” he said. 1/4

“For us to go out there and do that speaks volumes about what (O-line coach Mike) Gibson, Shakir Bell and the offensive line is doing. It was a great performance on their part to be able to do that. We had some balance as well, being able to pass it.”

Saskatchewan fell to 1-8 on the season with its fifth consecutive loss.

“We took them to the brink two times in their place,” said Roughriders head coach Chris Jones, referring to a thrilling 39-36 loss to the Eskimos in their only previous meeting on July 8. “We are a good football team, but unfortunately we make too many errors. We need to understand and believe that we are a good football team. We are just that close.

“You can’t quit or hang your head and start second-guessing everything like a lot of folks might do.”

Edmonton started the game with a 36-yard field goal by Sean Whyte on its opening possession and was even more impressive on its second drive, as a 42-yard run by Bell set up a terrific 31-yard touchdown pass from Reilly to Derel Walker.

The Eskimos made it 17-0 with three minutes to play in the first quarter as Reilly found Bell for a 15-yard TD pass.

Edmonton looked to extend its lead even further midway through the second, but Reilly was picked off in the Saskatchewan end zone by Ed Gainey.

The Esks added a safety when Deon Lacey sacked Riders QB Darian Durant in the end zone and another Whyte field goal before Saskatchewan finally got on the board with a Tyler Crapigna field goal to make it 22-3 at the half.

The Riders looked better to start the third, getting a one-yard TD run from Durant off of a long drive, their first touchdown in more than two games worth of playing time. They would go on to sack Reilly in the end zone to cut the Edmonton lead to 10 points.

Durant ran in his second one-yard TD of the game on the final play of the third quarter to make it 22-19.

The Eskimos finally woke back up to start the fourth, getting a seven-yard TD run from Reilly on a dive across the goal line.

Whyte kicked his third field goal of the game before the Riders came roaring back with a five-yard TD pass from Durant to Kendial Lawrence. The convert kick hit the uprights to keep Edmonton up by seven.

The Eskimos defence was able to force a turnover on downs and got a late punt single to put the game away.

The Riders return home to face Winnipeg on Sunday, Sept. 4, while the Eskimos travel to Calgary for the annual Labour Day Classic on Monday, Sept. 5.

Notes: Bell played his first game of the season as he replaced John White as the Eskimos starting running back after White suffered a hand injury against Toronto last week? The crowd of 37,168 for the game at Commonwealth Stadium was the tops in the CFL this season.

– CP