Reilly and Co. take it to Redblacks on way to snapping three-game losing streak
EDMONTON — There was no sign of the flu that kept Mike Reilly away from the Edmonton Eskimos’ walkthrough practice a day earlier.
But what was obvious on Saturday was the Canadian Football League-leading quarterback was sick and tired of losing.
Reilly powered the Eskimos to a 34-16 win over the Ottawa Redblacks in front of 27,163 at Commonwealth Stadium, marking an end to a threegame losing streak that began in Ottawa on Sept. 22.
The quarterback completed 31 of 38 passes for 369 yards and one touchdown, a 75-yarder to Bryant Mitchell on his way to a game-high 190 yards on 13 receptions.
Trevor Harris completed 21 of 26 passes for 291 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Redblacks, who fell to 8-7 on the season while remaining in first place in the East Division.
The win drew the Eskimos back to an even 8-8 on the year, as they jockey for playoff positioning with the B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, both of whom Edmonton will wind out the regular season against in their remaining two games.
Following a 32-yard field goal by rookie kicker sensation Lewis Ward, who pushed his record streak to 41 straight, the Eskimos scored their first touchdown in what amounted to 10 quarters, two minutes and 21 seconds worth of football, when Martese Jackson ran it in from 13 yards out with 2:45 to go in the opening quarter.
The first frame ended with Bryant Mitchell having the ball stripped from his arms by Redblacks defensive back Devin Butler.
But Edmonton’s defence held firm, forcing Ottawa to settle for a 16-yard field goal to open the second quarter.
It wasn’t instant replay, but might as well have been, after Reilly hit league-leading receiver Duke Williams for his first catch of the game on a 16-yard connection, only to have Jonathon Rose force a fumble that Jean-phillipe Bolduc recovered.
A sack by Kwaku Boateng for his team-leading ninth on the season resulted in another field goal by Ward from the exact same distance as his previous one to give Ottawa its second lead of the game, 9-7.
The Redblacks began to pull away when Dionte Spencer came up with a 61-yard catch and run to the end zone to make it 16-7.
It was the first offensive touchdown the Eskimos allowed since the first half of a 30-3 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sept. 29, a run of seven quarters, 12 minutes and 24 seconds.
It appeared the Eskimos had answered back with a 37-yard field goal by Sean Whyte, only to be granted a fresh set of downs after Rose was flagged for contacting the kicker.
That led to a three-yard
touchdown run by C.J. Gable to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive to send it into halftime trailing Ottawa 16-14.
After Williams was unable to hang onto a ball he brought down at the back of the end zone, Edmonton reclaimed the lead, 17-16, on a 15-yard field goal, before opening the final frame with another three points from 40 yards out.
After already putting up 115 yards on a dozen catches, Bryant Mitchell got in behind the coverage for a 75-yard catch and run to the end zone to put it out of reach with half a quarter to go.
Edmonton’s defence came up with back-to-back sacks by defensive tackles Almondo Sewell and Jake Ceresna to end one Ottawa drive, before an interception by safety Neil King on a wobbly Harris offering ended another.
Ottawa Redblacks linebacker Jean-philippe Bolduc seemingly pleads with Eskimos wide receiver Bryant Mitchell to go easy on him during last night’s game in Edmonton. The hosts snapped a three-game losing streak.