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Edmonton entertains Hamilton in Week 2 action
Edmonton, AB (Sports Network) - After winning a total of just four times all of last season, the Edmonton Eskimos shoot for half that number in just the second week of the 2014 campaign as they host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night.
Edmonton, which won just once through the first 10 games of 2013, got off on the right foot this time around thanks to a convincing 27-20 victory versus British Columbia at BC Place last weekend.
Mike Reilly threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns for the Eskimos and new head coach Chris Jones. The quarterback converted 22-of-35 pass attempts and was intercepted once. Receiver Adarius Bowman finished with nine catches for 105 yards, one of his best performances in years. Calvin McCarty and Fred Stamps also registered majors in the outing.
Edmonton scored points in every quarter, yet the squad generated a mere 295 yards of total offense on 84 snaps, partly due to the fact that the Eskimos had to deal with 13 penalties for a loss of 93 yards on the evening.
Defensively, Edmonton held the Lions to just 283 yards on 65 plays, all without the services of J.C. Sherritt who remained on the injured list. The linebacker, who missed several games last season, set the CFL single-season record for tackles two years ago with 130.
Sherritt should be back on the active roster this week, but that does not guarantee that he will see game action.
While the Esks were setting in motion the start of what will hopefully be a successful season, Hamilton was being beaten up by Saskatchewan in a rematch of last year's Grey Cup.
In November of last year, the Roughriders dominated the Tiger-Cats at Mosaic Stadium by a score of 45-23, and Sunday night saw a similar performance from both sides as Hamilton took it on the chin once more in a 31-10 rain-soaked final.
In 2013, the 'Cats had the luxury of riding the arm of Henry Burris, the league's top passer with close to 5,000 yards, but he has since been moved a couple of times and now plays for the newest team to the league, the Ottawa RedBlacks. Now they are relying on free agent Zach Collaros to provide some stability at the position, something that was not found in the opener.
Granted, the poor weather conditions may have had something to do with the lackluster play of Collaros, as he completed 19-of-33 passes for 159 yards and a score, but considering the protection he was given along the offensive line, you really can't put all the blame on him. Although, being sacked a mystifying 10 times does indicate that perhaps Collaros was holding onto the ball a bit too long.
Unfortunately, it appears the sack issue may be a continuing trend from last season when Hamilton was last in the league with 65 allowed, second-most on that list was Edmonton with 60.
Producing only 201 yards of total offense in the opener, there were times when the Tiger-Cats could not get out of their own way. The squad fumbled the ball four times, losing possession twice, and was flagged for an incredible 17 penalties for a loss of 148 yards.
Sam Giguere stepped up and posted a game-high six receptions (a career high) for 46 yards, while Luke Tasker reeled in a four-yard scoring pass for the program midway through the final period.
One bright spot for the Hamilton defense was rookie tackle Bryan Hall who made three tackles, registered one sack and forced a fumble during the setback.
Dating back to 1961 and taking into consideration only regular-season meetings between these two clubs, Edmonton is ahead by a count of 54-30-1, winning two of the last three and four of the last six matchups overall. However, Hamilton is the one that came out on top in the most recent encounter last August, when kicker Grant Shaw delivered a 45-yard single as time expired in a 30-29 road triumph.
The teams are also set to meet in Hamilton during Week 13 play this season.
07/02 11:18:49 ET