Redblacks Contain Mike Reilly in Victory Over Eskimos
Photo credit: Patrick Doyle, CFL
With a gritty performance from the offense and a suffocating performance from the Ottawa defense, the Redblacks were able to defeat the Edmonton Eskimos 28-15 Saturday night for their second straight victory.
The win came in front of a raucous TD Place crowd just a day after the Ottawa area was hit with a devastating storm. Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell did not miss the opportunity to acknowledge the community after the win.
“We were just talking in the locker room, our players, about how awesome this city is and this region is and the fans for coming out today. It was a rough day here in Ottawa yesterday,” said Campbell.
The Edmonton ‘bread and butter’ this season has been a prolific passing game on offense with a dominant pass-rush on defense. The pass-rush was there for the Eskimos, recording six sacks including three from Kwaku Boateng, but Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly was held in check.
Against the CFL’s top passing offense, the Redblacks held Reilly to 276 passing yards and one touchdown. Rico Murray picked off Reilly at the Redblacks goal line off a tipped ball for his fourth interception of the season.
The interception came at a critical point in the game, with Edmonton down three and threatening to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter. Greg Ellingson scored a five-yard touchdown on the drive following the Murray interception, giving the Redblacks a comfortable two-possession lead. The Ottawa defense forced another turnover in the second quarter, a forced fumble by Anthony Cioffi that was recovered by AC Leonard.
Redblacks quarterback Trevor Harris finished the game with a completion percentage over 76% and 313 yards passing, but it was not even a certainty that he was going to finish the game.
Harris went down late in third quarter after a Redblacks offensive lineman was pushed into the back of his legs. Harris jogged to the locker room but did not miss an offensive possession. He returned the next drive and helped lead the Redblacks to 13 straight points, including the touchdown to Ellingson with 3:44 left in the game.
“I’ll figure it out tomorrow. I’ll be fine,” said Harris regarding the injury.
Rookie kicker Lewis Ward, a revelation for Ottawa all season long, starred again as he connected on all seven of his field goal attempts against Edmonton. His performance pushed his consecutive field goal streak to 37 straight, passing Rene Paredes for the longest single season streak in CFL history.
“It’s a good feeling to know we put our field goal unit on and it’s three points in the bank,” said Campbell.
For the second game in a row, William Powell was rolling. The CFL’s leading rusher tallied 147 yards on 23 carries. With his performance against Edmonton, Powell eclipsed the 1000-yard mark for the second straight season and passed his previous career high for rushing yards in a season.
Another Redblack passed a milestone amidst a monster performance on Saturday. Brad Sinopoli caught six passes for 113 yards to top 1000 receiving yards for the fourth consecutive season. He has reached that mark every year he has played with Ottawa.
The Redblacks were the better team throughout the game but were only able to pull away late due to costly mistakes in the first half. Three Ottawa touchdowns were called back due to penalty in the opening half, including a punt return touchdown from Diontae Spencer. The return did not stand, but Spencer was able to get involved in the passing game with 89 yards receiving.
Edmonton was able to reach the end zone twice in the game, including a touchdown from Duke Williams, who leads the CFL in receiving touchdowns. Reilly scored the other with a quarterback sneak from the Redblack one-yard line following a pass interference call on Murray. Reilly now has 12 rushing touchdowns in 2018 (the most in the CFL) and has reached the end zone on the ground in nine of the Eskimos’ 13 games.
Ottawa is now 5-3 against West Division opponents this season, the best record out of any East team. No other East Division team is above .500 against the West.
The Redblacks will be on their third and final bye week of the season next week. After a statement win over the Blue Bombers, Ottawa followed their previous bye week with back-to-back losses against the Alouettes and Lions. When asked about the team potentially being rusty again following next week’s bye, Harris was firm.
“We won’t; not going to let it happen,” said Harris.
When they return to action, on October 5th, the Redblacks will host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at TD Place.