Trevor Harris couldn’t repeat otherworldly performance as Eskimos came up empty in Hamilton

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

We won’t get to see what Trevor Harris can do in Calgary.

As his career has shown the answer to be fair usually isn’t much. The Eskimos came into Hamilton, started off slow, and never recovered.

The 2019 Tiger-Cats are a runaway train and it was just Edmonton’s turn to line up on the tracks. Hamilton looks to win their first Grey Cup since 1999.

Recently, Harris has shown he can get things done to march whichever team he is leading to a Grey Cup appearance.

His six touchdown passes in last year’s East Final with the Redblacks was outstanding, and he dropped jaws on Semi-Final Sunday with a superb 29-of-36 performance in their win over Montreal to send them to Hamilton. Going back one year further, his 2017 performance against Saskatchewan, an eventual loss but 457 passing yards were paired with a couple of touchdowns (and interceptions) in the East Semi-Final.

It’s probably unfair to have even slightly expected a similar performance this time out, and for one of a few reasons it’s because the Ticats look like (and are), world-beaters.

However this was one of those games heading into it where you felt you’d need an out-of-body repeat showing by Harris for the Eskimos to have a chance in winning. They didn’t get it, and now they’re going home.

This one felt and looked different from the get go.

Edmonton blinked first, as Harris’ third pass was intercepted and their second drive was stalled out on a C.J Gable fumble.

Harris strung together a solid second quarter, and it included their lone touchdown of the game. He found DaVaris Daniels in the second who walked it into the end zone and their first damage was dealt. His stat line read 15-for-20 on his pass attempts for 158 yards, and they were stuck just 10 going into the third.

But a timely second interception and the Tiger-Cats defence forcing Harris and the offence taking three instead of surrendering six or more time and time again led to their advancement. This matchup was perhaps Harris’ toughest task in recent years.

The Ticats defence, as typically is the case on first place teams, led in most defensive categories this regular season. They allowed the fewest touchdowns and points, while being in the top tier league-wide for several other stat trackers.

There was also some unfamiliarity – Harris was out during both of the regular season meetings with the Tabbies. You can study all the game film you’d like and draw from your experience in the league, but there’s no better way to get a feel for a defence than actually being out there on game day.

Despite recording just three sacks (two on the second final drive), the pressure Hamilton brought on was evident on almost every play. Harris was frequently flushed out of the pocket and forced to throw on the run.

He certainly had a lot of adversity to battle against: a hostile crowd, a poor start, and an on-fire Hamilton offence had the Eskimos needing to find offensive ground quickly to stay in the game.

But they couldn’t get over the hump. Hamilton simply bested Edmonton – and Harris – in every aspect of the game.

He finished 29-of-41 for 319 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His safety valve Greg Ellingson had a game-high 11 targets.

Edmonton’s highly-touted free agent signings did not result in a ring this year. If this is the end of Jason Maas’ tenure in Edmonton, so be it. They couldn’t get past one of the greatest CFL teams in recent memory.

But Eskimos fans shouldn’t feel down for too long after this loss. Harris is locked in for the next year and he’s proven to be a guy you want to be behind centre when the moment counts.