July 9, 2011

Lightning strikes: Esks trounce Tabbies


EDMONTON — Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed warned Eskimos fans to tone down their expectations.

Jerome Messam ran for a 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Edmonton remained perfect to start the season, defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 28-10 on Saturday night.

“Don’t be planning the parade route yet,” the Eskimos’ rookie head coach said. “I was most pleased with executing really well and not conceding any big plays. We played like we did the first week again in all three phases of the game.”

Last season Edmonton didn’t get its second win until Aug. 28, going 2-9 before its third victory a month later.

Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray said the team can build off its strong start.

“Every win that you get early in the season takes the pressure off you as a football team,” he said. “When you get off to a good start you keep building confidence and keep moving forward. If you get behind early in the season it feels like you are always battling uphill to get to .500. The more wins you can get early the better you set yourself up for the second half of the season.”

Ray completed 21-of-31 passes for 388 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, while Kevin Glenn was 21-for-31 for 226 yards with an interception and a touchdown for Hamilton (0-2).

“We got beat physically,” said Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille. “They tackled better than we did. They covered better than we did. They made plays and we didn’t. They handled the line of scrimmage better than we did.

“That’s the bottom line. I don’t think they did anything out of the ordinary.”

A downpour slowed both teams early in the game, letting up just long enough for the Eskimos to put together a drive that culminated in a 20-yard Damon Duval field goal 6:30 into the first.

Less than a minute later, a very close lightning strike chased the teams into the locker rooms for a 13-minute delay.

After play resumed neither team could add to the score and the first quarter ended with the Eskimos up 3-0.

Duval booted a 41-yard field goal four minutes into the second and missed one from 37 yards for a single four minutes later to make it 7-0 Edmonton.

The Eskimos finally provided the game’s first real offensive spark with 2:18 left in the second as quarterback Ricky Ray hit Fred Stamps with a pass and he bounced off Ticat Carlos Thomas and turned on the jets to out-race a pair of pursuers for a 68-yard touchdown.

Justin Medlock kicked a field goal with just over a minute left in the first half to get Hamilton on the board at 14-3.

Edmonton had 304 yards of offence in the first half to Hamilton’s 113.

The Eskimos came back from the dressing room with a long drive that included a huge 32-yard run by Messam, leading the team to call his name again for a one-yard touchdown plunge to make it 21-3 Edmonton five minutes into the third.

Hamilton was threatening to get back into the game with four minutes left but a sack by Edmonton’s Weldon Brown on Glenn pushed Hamilton out of scoring position.

But the Tiger-Cats bounced back on their next possession as they opened the fourth quarter with a scoring drive as Glenn found Dave Stala in the end zone with a six-yard pass to cut the lead to 21-10.

Edmonton put the game out of reach with five minutes left to go as Messam went over the 100-yards rushing mark for the game with an 11-yard TD run for his second of the game.

Both teams are back on the field next Saturday as the Ticats host Saskatchewan and the Eskimos welcome the B.C. Lions to Edmonton.

Notes: The last time the Eskimos were undefeated through their first two games was in 2005 when they won the Grey Cup. … The Eskimos came into the contest 24-7 in games against the Tiger-Cats at home in Commonwealth Stadium and had won six of the last seven. … Esks defensive lineman Etienne Legare left the game in the second quarter with an injury to his left foot. … Hamilton had five sacks last week in a 24-16 loss to Winnipeg, however ended up turning the ball over five times. … Edmonton had three interceptions in last week’s 42-28 victory over Saskatchewan and were plus-four in turnovers. … Hamilton played in Edmonton’s home opener for the first time since 1994. … The teams are set to meet once more this season on September 16 on Hamilton’s home field. …
Reed was Hamilton’s defensive co-ordinator from 2004-06. … It was the first of three consecutive Eskimos games to be featured on the NFL Network