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Eskimos come calling on Roughriders
Regina, SK (SportsNetwork.com) - With their four-game slide finally behind them, the Saskatchewan Roughriders can now focus their attention on the Edmonton Eskimos as the teams meet up at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The most dominant team in the CFL through the first two months of the season, Saskatchewan came out of the gate with five straight wins and was 8-1 after nine games before hitting the skids. The team had just one win in five chances during the month of September, but managed to put an end to the rough patch with a 31-17 victory over British Columbia last week.
Already locked into the playoffs, the Riders are tied with BC for second place in the West Division standings, four points off the pace set by Calgary, although there is still much to be determined in terms of playoff positioning.
The good news for the Riders is that they were able to get Kory Sheets back onto the field versus BC, the running back gaining a game-high 80 yards and scoring a pair of majors in the victory. Quarterback Darian Durant connected on 21-of-31 pass attempts for 234 yards and a score, with six completions going to Sheets who added another 41 yards through the air.
The appearance at BC Place by the Roughriders brought back the league's all- time leading pass catcher, Geroy Simon, to the place he once called home for 12 seasons. Simon caught just one pass for 13 yards in the outing.
Penalties played a major role in the contest on both sides, with Saskatchewan being flagged seven times for a loss of 118 yards, and the Lions losing 138 yards on 13 infractions.
As for the Eskimos, a team which has had very little to cheer about this season, they figured to have a fighting chance during their home date with Montreal during Week 15 action, but in the end Edmonton was blown away in a 47-24 final. Victorious just three times in 2013, Edmonton has dropped two straight after winning back-to-back decisions against Winnipeg in a span of six days last month.
Against the Alouettes, Edmonton fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and was down 31-3 at intermission before coming up with 21 points in the fourth period. Unfortunately for the Esks, Montreal tallied 15 points in the final frame to keep from being challenged.
After being knocked out of the game against Toronto a week earlier with a head injury, it wasn't until just hours before kickoff that Mike Reilly was announced as the starting quarterback for the Eskimos. Reilly completed 13- of-21 passes for 180 yards, but he was picked off twice and did not return in the second half as he gave way to backup Jonathan Crompton.
The reserve signal caller entered the game with little pressure and managed to show some fight in the fourth quarter as he threw touchdowns to Shamawd Chambers (two) and Fred Stamps, but at the same time he also tossed three interceptions which effectively ended any real threat to Montreal. Crompton completed half of his 26 attempts for 204 yards.
Unlike Montreal which gained 188 yards and scored twice on the ground, the Eskimos did little in the way of running the football with just 11 attempts for 45 yards. Then again, much of that can be attributed to the fact that Edmonton was playing from behind and could not waste time with minimal gains.
Chambers finished the meeting with five catches for 87 yards, while Adarius Bowman matched his season high with seven receptions for a game-high 111 yards.
Edmonton's trouble with producing on the ground was not limited to last week however, seeing as how the group is last in the league with just nine rushing touchdowns. Then again, the Eskimos are third in the CFL with 99.1 ypg rushing, so something's just not right for a group that is second-to-last in scoring with only 24.3 ppg.
Despite their recent slump, the Riders are still one of the top offensive teams in the league this season, having run more plays (1,144) than any other team and placing second in scoring (29.9 ppg) behind only Calgary.
Edmonton leads the all-time series by a count of 113-84-2, taking into account only regular-season matchups dating back to 1950, but it was Saskatchewan that won the most recent encounter two months ago, 30-27, on the road and has now taken two straight and three of the last five overall.
The squads are also slated to meet in the regular-season finale on Nov. 2 back here in Regina.
10/09 11:26:04 ET