Edmonton visits Hamilton, as both seek first win
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - With one team destined to be winless after the first two games of the 2013 CFL campaign, both the Edmonton Eskimos and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats try to prevent that from happening on Sunday evening when they get together at Guelph Alumni Stadium.
Granted, there is a possibility that the teams could play to a tie this weekend, but that hasn't happened in a number of years now and shouldn't be much of a possibility given how wild the scoring opportunities were during the first week of the season. In fact, the 277 points scored in the four games during the first week, an average of just over 69 per game, made it the third- highest Week 1 scoring effort in league history.
The Ticats played a major role in the scoring outburst, putting up 34 points against Toronto on the road, but even that was not enough to upset the defending Grey Cup Champions in their own building. Hamilton ended up suffering the five-point loss mainly because the offense went to sleep in the second half, scoring a grand total of just three points.
The league's leading passer from a year ago, Henry Burris, who was coming off a campaign in which he completed close to 65 percent of his passes for 5,367 yards and 43 touchdowns, tried to pick up where he left off by hitting 24- of-37 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns, but it simply wasn't enough to keep the team from falling into the loss column.
But you can't fault the signal-caller for his efforts because, with only seconds to play down the stretch he nearly pulled off a remarkable win. Burris initially thought his desperation pass at the end of regulation was completed for what could have been the game-winning touchdown, but clearly the ball bounced off the turf and into the hands of Andy Fantuz.
Despite not coming up with the critical reception, Fantuz still had a standout performance with 10 catches for 155 yards and a score, while C.J. Gable turned his four grabs into 30 yards and a couple of majors as well.
Hamilton kick returner Lindsey Lamar was named the special teams player of the week in the CFL after posting 224 yards -- including a 104-yard TD return -- on six kickoffs along with four punt returns for 18 yards. Lamar's scoring run came just minutes into the first quarter, part of a 21-point eruption by the Ticats in the frame.
Hamilton was one of three teams to go without a turnover in the first week of play, the others being Toronto and Saskatchewan. However, what made the Ticats stand out is that they bucked the trend that says clubs that are error-free should come out on top more than 88 percent of the time since 1996.
As mentioned earlier, the first week of action in the CFL was heavily offensive by nature, but the one team that didn't follow suit was Edmonton. Had it not been for a 12-point burst in the final 15 minutes, the Eskimos would have been left with single digits for the contest.
Edmonton, which is trying to find a worthy and deserving starting quarterback, put Mike Reilly in the cross hairs in the first week and the result was less than favorable. Reilly finished the meeting against Saskatchewan, a 39-18 defeat, 17-of-35 for 259 yards and a score, but he was also picked off three times and suffered three sacks.
The Eskimos brought in second-stringer Jonathan Crompton, a product of Tennessee, and he responded by going 6-of-11 for 70 yards.
Edmonton scored just a single major, a 19-yard pass to Fred Stamps. Kicker Grant Shaw did all he could for the club by hitting three of his four field goal attempts.
The Esks managed to generate 417 yards of total offense but turnovers, as well as 15 penalties for a loss of 90 yards, didn't help matters.
On a positive note for Edmonton, JC Sherritt came out and showed that his record-setting performance from last season was no fluke as he tallied a game- high seven stops and registered a sack in the losing cause. Sherritt, who logged a record 130 defensive tackles a year ago, is now 16th on the team's all-time tackles list with 206 stops.
Dating back to 1950 and taking into account only games that have been played during the regular season, Edmonton owns a 53-29-1 advantage over the Ticats. The Eskimos won the most recent meeting last Oct. 5 by a final of 35-20 at home, which means the club has now taken three of the last four and five of the last seven matchups overall.
The squads will face off against each other in Edmonton on Aug. 2.
07/03 11:20:15 ET