Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Edmonton powers past Saskatchewan in CFL pre-season action

The Edmonton Eskimos took advantage of five takeaways Wednesday night and rolled to a 45-12 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in CFL preseason action, in front of 34,793 fans at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.

Edmonton got on the board early in the first, on a 47 yard punt single by Derek Schiavone.The teams then exchanged turnovers, with the Eskimos intercepting a pass and losing a fumble. On their next possession, Edmonton moved the ball to the Roughrider 40, but the drive stalled there and they had to settle for a 45 yard field goal from Schivone. The Riders weren't able to move the ball with much authority in the first quarter and found themselves on the short end of a 4-0 score after the opening 15 minutes.

Saskatchewan finally started to get rolling on offense in the closing moments of the opening quarter, driving into Eskimos territory for the first time on the night. Luca Congi was able to nail a 33 yard fieldgoal with 11:27 remaining in the first half, to draw to within one at 4-3. Edmonton responded with a couple of big plays by quaterback Jared Zabransky, a long pass completion and a 12 yard scramble, moving the ball into the shadow of the Rider goaline. Zabransky then found Efram Hill for a three yard touchdown pass and with the convert completing a 9 play, 82 yard drive, took an 11-3 lead. Late in the quarter, a drive deep into Saskatchewan territory again stalled, and the Esks had to settle for a 25 yard fieldgoal with 1:43 left by Ryan Elaschuk, increasing their lead to 14-3. Saskatchewan showed flashes of a quick-strike offense on the ensuing possession, quickly driving deep into Edmonton territory as quarterback Steven Jyles hooked up with Jason Clermont on four pass plays. Jyles, unable to find a receiver on first-and-goal, scrambled for 7 yards and a touchdown with Congi's convert capping a 6 play, 73 yard, 35 second drive, bringing the Riders to within 4 at 14-10 at the half.

Saskatchewan fumbled the opening kick of the second half away and the Eskimos quickly converted, increasing the lead to 21-10 on a 13 yard touchdown pass from Lester Rickard to Kevin Challenger, with Elaschuk adding the convert just 60 seconds into the second half. Edmonton drove the field quickly again on their next possession, with Ciatrick Fason punching it in from 2 yards outs, capping a 9 play, 82 yard drive. Elaschuk nailed the convert with 9:37 left in the third, increasing the lead to 28-10. The Riders turned the ball over on an interception deep in their own territory on the next possession and Elaschuk drilled a 15 yard field goal to put the Eskimos up 31-10 with 4:11 remaining, capping the scoring in the third quarter.

Saskatchewan got the first points of the final quarter with 11:04 left, as Edmonton's punter Schiavone conceded the deuce on a safety touch. The Eskimos grabbed the ball back on an interception and crowd-favorite Jesse Lumsden scored on a 9 yard run. Elaschuk's convert with 8:26 left, put Edmonton on top 38-12. Jason Maas then hit Alan Turner with a 28 yard touchdown pass with 2:13 remaining to cap the scoring, as the Eskimos rolled to the 45-12 win.

Edmonton, who held a 509-178 advantage in total yards, was lead by their trio of quarterbacks, Jared Zabransky, Jason Maas and Lester Rickard combined to complete 24 of 36 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns. E Hill, K Challenger and A Turner each caught a touchdown pass, while Ciatrick Fason(9 carries for 83 yards) and Jesse Lumsden(6 carries for 64 yards) each scored a rushing touchdown. The Riders played four different quarterbacks in the opener. Darian Durant, Steven Jyles, Dalton Bell and Juan Joseph went 14 of 29 for 136 yards, no scores and three interceptions. Stu Foord carried the ball 3 times for 23 yards, while quarterback Steven Jyles' touchdown run was the only touchdown of the night for Saskatchewan. Roughriders Head Coach Ken Miller talked about his teams' rookies playing the majority of the game, saying that "We're really happy that this one's over, but we'll have a really good opportunity to evaluate our young players." Commenting on the results, a 33 point loss, Miller said about the young players he used: "When we put someone on the field in the green and white, we expect them to play well and we expect them to be successful."

The Roughriders, 0-1-0 on the pre-season, host the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders on Tuesday, June 23rd at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. Kickoff is set for 9:00pm EDT on with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri calling all the action. The Eskimos, 1-0-0, travel to Vancouver for a matchup with the BC Lions next Tuesday at 10:00pm EDT.

Saskatchewan opens the 2009 CFL regular season schedule at home on Friday, July 3rd against the BC Lions beginning at 9:00pm EDT. All the exciting action home and away can be heard on CKRM, beginning one hour before scheduled kickoff.

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