HAMILTON, Ont. — Jerome Messam was quick to pass along the credit after powering his team into a tie atop of the CFL’s West Division standings.
The Canadian running back led the charge Friday with 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns as the Edmonton Eskimos thumped the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 38-23.
“It felt great,” he said. “Hats off to the offensive line. They did a great job opening up holes. Anybody could have run through them.”
Edmonton (7-4) moved into a tie with Calgary for top spot in the West. The Stampeders take on B.C. on Saturday.
The Eskimos ground attack has been much maligned over the past few weeks, but on a night where everything went their way, Edmonton gained 223 net rushing yards compared to Hamilton’s 39.
Hamilton defensive end Stevie Baggs was clearly irritated by Edmonton’s rushing success.
“We tried to do too much and got out of our gaps,” he said. “We were not being disciplined, not paying attention to detail and that’s why that happened.”
It was the second straight blowout loss for Hamilton. Only a last-minute touchdown made the score more respectable.
Calvin McCarty and Kerry Joseph also scored touchdowns for Edmonton against the Ticats, who were blown out for the second straight week after dropping a 43-13 decision in Montreal on Sunday.
Chris Williams and Avon Cobourne scored touchdowns for Hamilton.
“We’re not the first team to lost two in a row,” said Hamilton quarterback Kevin Glenn. “We’ve lost two in a row before (to open the season). We’ve just got to make sure we bounce back next week. We cannot lose three in a row. We just can’t.”
Hamilton meets Calgary in Moncton, N.B., next week.
Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray was 25-of-32 passing for 226 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Ray hooked up with slotback Fred Stamps 14 times for 130 yards.
It was the first time the Eskimos had won at Ivor Wynne since 2008.
“It’s a tough place to play,” said Ray. “They’re a good, solid football team. We just came out and played a pretty clean game. We didn’t hurt ourselves too much. Our defence played well. Offensively, we were able (to get) Jerome the football and not have a lot of negative plays.”
Hamilton kicker Justin Medlock was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts, hitting from 29, 40 and 45 yards. Edmonton’s Derek Schiavone was good on 3-of-4 tries, hitting from 11, 27 and 26 yards but missing wide left from 28 yards.
Hamilton (5-6) entered the game as the league’s second-leading offence behind Montreal and were tied for the league-best with a 4-1 record at home.
But the Tiger-Cats have clearly been hurt by the loss of veteran centre Marwan Hage, who has missed the past two games. Hamilton entered Friday second in the league behind Montreal for the least sacks allowed (15) but gave up five in the loss to Edmonton.
Glenn completed 14-of-23 pass attempts for 140 yards and one interception before being replaced by backup Quinton Porter with 11:26 left in the fourth.
“They made the plays, we didn’t,” said Glenn. “We didn’t execute tonight.”
An unhappy crowd of 22,654 sent the home team into the locker-room with a showering of boos at halftime as the Ticats trailed 25-6.
The jeers changed to cheers 14 seconds into the third quarter when Williams returned the kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
The TD put the crowd in a better mood, but did little to change the momentum. The teams traded field goals before the third quarter ended with Glenn’s interception by Edmonton defensive back Chris Thompson, who ran it 53 yards to the Hamilton 15.
The Hamilton defence looked to have stuffed Edmonton at the one-yard line, and recovered a fumble, but a couple offside penalties gave Edmonton a second and third chance. An Edmonton time count violation moved the ball back and gave Messam the room he needed for a six-yard TD run and the 35-16 lead. A Schiavone 26-yarder made it 38-16.
Porter orchestrated a 91-yard scoring drive late in the game that ended with a six-yard TD run by Cobourne to make it 38-23.
The game was tied early 3-3 before Edmonton’s offence took over. Messam rushed for 102 yards on eight carries in the first half alone, while Stamps was Ray’s receiver of choice, with 111 yards on nine catches.
Ray led a 70-yard drive, culminating in Messam’s 26-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 10-3 first-quarter lead.
Late in the quarter, Glenn dumped the ball off to Cobourne for a short gain, but he fumbled and the ball was recovered by former Ticat Jykine Bradley at the Hamilton 40. That began a scoring drive that ended with Ray’s seven-yard TD pass to McCarty early in the second quarter to make it 17-3.
A 15-yard no-yards penalty against Hamilton gave Edmonton the ball on the Ticat 45. On the next play, Messam ran it 43 yards to the Ticat two-yard line to set up Joseph’s one-yard TD run to make it 24-3.
A missed field goal by Schiavone and Medlock’s 40-yarder made it 25-6 heading into halftime.
Notes: The Eskimos have beaten Hamilton in both meetings this season, having also won 28-10 at home in Week 2.