EDMONTON – The Edmonton Eskimos silenced many of their critics as they got production from all three phases of the game en route to a 42-10 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
After being stuck in a defensive battle a week before, it was fitting that the Eskimos offence didn’t record the first points of the game. As the Bombers were about to take the field for their second possession of the contest, CB/KR Demond Washington returned a punt only to have the ball punched loose and returned 23 yards for a touchdown by LB Clint Kent.
The major came as a little bit of retribution for Kent who after spending the last two seasons as a starter with the Blue Bombers, was released at the end of training camp and picked up by Edmonton just prior to the start of the regular season.
The Esks would force another turnover on the next Winnipeg possession when a pass deflected off the hands of sophomore receiver Kito Poblah and into the waiting arms of S Donovan Alexander. It would lead to a 43-yard Grant Shaw field goal to give Edmonton an early 10-0 lead.
More concerning for the Bombers at that juncture was the fact that Buck Pierce, who took a big hit from DL Ted Laurent, left the game at the end of the first quarter and gave way to Alex Brink.
Pierce was seen having his left foot worked on by team doctors on the sidelines but no immediate update was available.
With Pierce out, Edmonton would continue to build on their lead when QB Steven Jyles found a wide open Cary Koch for a 33-yard touchdown and the first passing major of the Eskimos’ season. The former Saskatchewan Roughriders’ TD was set up by a 35-yard punt return by DB Joe Burnett who dodged a few tacklers to get the Green and Gold in good field position to start.
Brink had a chance to answer but on the ensuing drive, Eskimos DB T.J. Hill made a play on the ball and picked off a pass before walking into the endzone for a 31-yard touchdown and taking a commanding 24-0 lead.
The Eskimos defence simply refused to quit. On the very next play from scrimmage, rookie Winnipeg RB Bloi-Dei Dorzon had the ball stripped and Edmonton LB J.C. Sherritt picked up the ball. It would set up a Shaw field goal attempt but it would sail wide and through the endzone for a single point.
Shaw would add a 24-yarder set up by another impressive Burnett return.
Bombers lose Pierce, Brink
The Blue Bombers lost more than just the game as Buck Pierce left in the first quarter and Alex Brink left in the third, both with injuries. Joey Elliott would finish the game at quarterback.
It was then the Eskimos’ offence that took over when Kerry Joseph, who came in for Jyles who went to the bench with an injury shortly, found rookie Canadian WR Shamawd Chambers for a 4-yard touchdown reception, the first of his career.
Heading into halftime, the Eskimos had a 35-0 lead and their defence had forced four turnovers and three quarterback sacks.
The second half began with a few big plays from each offence but neither could put points on the board.
With the score stuck at 35-0, tempers would start to flare as a skirmish ensued at midfield. As a result, Eskimos defensive ends Julius Williams and Marcus Howard were ejected, as was Blue Bombers offensive lineman Glenn January.
The Blue Bombers would finally get on the board with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter when K Justin Palardy was good on a 48-yard field goal to make the score 35-3 in favour of Edmonton.
Already without Pierce, the Bombers would lose another quarterback to injury at the beginning of the fourth quarter when Sherritt hit Brink whose head hit the turf and had to be helped off the field.
Third stringer Joey Elliott would come in and waste little time moving the offence, connecting with Chris Matthews on a 72-yard touchdown pass to cut the Edmonton lead to 35-10.
However, any hope of the Bombers making a comeback was eliminated with 5:01 left in the game when Esks RB Hugh Charles busted a catch-and-run up the middle for a 76-yard touchdown and extend the lead to 42-10.