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Hamilton visits Edmonton in battle of floundering squads
Edmonton, AB (Sports Network) - A pair of teams with just two wins between them after five weeks of action, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Eskimos are set to square off at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night.
Edmonton, which is playing in front of the hometown crowd for the first time in three weeks, has dropped three consecutive decisions and is all alone in last place in the Western Division with a record of 1-4. Having given up 40 more points than they've scored, the Eskimos are the only squad in the division with a losing record at the moment.
As for the Tiger-Cats, their early play has been just as disappointing with only one win in five chances as well. Winless in both of their road dates, the Cats are currently tied with Winnipeg for last place in the Eastern Division standings , but even at a mere 1-4 they are just two points behind Montreal for second place.
Hamilton had a chance for an upset versus Saskatchewan last Saturday at home, opening the contest on a 10-0 run versus a Roughriders squad that was fielding a backup quarterback in Drew Willy, but the defense failed to hold up their end of the bargain in what turned into a 32-20 defeat.
Hamilton registered just three points over the final 30 minutes of action, courtesy of a 36-yard field goal by Luca Congi in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Henry Burris put the ball in the air 41 times, resulting in 26 receptions and a hefty 395 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but even that was not enough. While moving into fourth place on the CFL's all-time list for passing touchdowns with 308, Burris also had to fight off constant pressure that produced seven sacks. Even Burris, who is now fifth on the all-time completions list in league history with 3,410, could not weather the storm brought on by the Riders as they remained the lone undefeated squad in the league.
While the Ticats were being set down by Saskatchewan, Edmonton was mounting a late comeback bid against Montreal on the road that just fell short last Thursday night in a 32-27 decision. The Esks tallied a total of only six points in the first half, but came alive in the third and fourth quarters with a combined 21 points, but still the visitors were sent home with yet another defeat.
Mike Reilly saw the most time under center for Edmonton, hitting on 16-of-28 passes for 262 yards and two scores, but he was also picked off once and had to deal with three sacks as well. Kerry Joseph managed to get off one pass attempt for the Esks, while Jonathan Crompton threw four passes in the meeting and completed as many to his own teammates (one) as he did to the Montreal defense.
Fred Stamps led all receivers with six catches for 103 yards, but it was Cary Koch who stole some of the spotlight with not only a 24-yard catch for a score in the final period, but also an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown to kick off the scoring in the second half in order to give Edmonton a fighting chance.
Running back Hugh Charles, who had a season-high 119 yards rushing on 11 carries against Hamilton in the first meeting of the season thanks to a long of 70 yards, was limited to just five carries for 27 yards by the Montreal defense.
From a defensive standpoint, Edmonton had no answers on how to even slow down Brandon Whitaker who rumbled for 162 yards and a score on 24 attempts. It also didn't help that the Eskimos were again beaten down by their own poor execution, suffering 13 penalties for a loss of 111 yards.
Heading into Week 5 action, Edmonton was one of the most penalized clubs in the league with an average of just under 12 flags per contest, and that trend continued to the dismay of head coach Kavis Reed who continues to seek an answer to his team's troubled play on both sides of the ball.
The Esks won the first meeting of the season between the squads back on July 7 by a score of 30-20 on the road. In that contest, Edmonton's Reilly threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, while Burris threw for 234 yards and a score for Hamilton, but was picked off twice and sacked four times.
With the victory, their fourth in the last five encounters with Winnipeg, the Eskimos pushed their lead to 54-39-1 in the all-time series, taking into consideration only regular-season bouts played since 1950.
07/31 11:45:02 ET