Sunday, September 20, 2009

Late touchdown pushes Edmonton past Riders

A 68-yard bomb with 69 seconds left in the game spelled the difference, as Ricky Ray found Maurice Mann for the winning score, as the Edmonton Eskimos beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 31-27 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Edmonton had the first scoring opportunity of the day, moving to within 4 yards of the Riders goal. Saskatchewan stopped the Eskimos on 3 straight plays, but were called for too many men, giving Edmonton a fresh set of downs from the 1. After holding the ball for almost 10 minutes, Arkee Whitlock punched it in from a yard out on second down to cap the 14 play, 61 yard drive. Noel Prefontaine added the convert with 4:52 left in the first, putting the Eskies on top 7-0.

The Riders tied the game 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter, as Wes Cates scored on a 4 yard run and Luca Congi converted. Whitlock's second major score of the game, this one from 3 yards out. Prefontaine's convert put Edmonton back on top at 14-7, with 9:38 left in the first half. Congi booted a 22-yard fieldgoal with 5 minutes remaining in the second, cutting the Eskimos lead to 14-10. Fred Stamps caught a 10 yard touchdown pass from Ricky Ray with Prefontaine converting again as Edmonton scored on it's third consecutive possession, taking a 21-10 lead 1:45 before halftime.

The Eskimos threatened to blow it open early in the third. However, Saskatchewan caught a huge break, as Jerell Freeman forced Whitlock to fumble at the 5, where Omar Morgan scooped it up and went 108 yards in the other direction for a major score. Congi's convert made it a 4 point lead for Edmonton at 21-17, 2:43 into the third. Morgan's play was the longest fumble return for a touchdown in CFL history, breaking the previous record of 104 yards by Ottawa's Al Washington against Calgary in 1984. Jamie Boreham conceded a safety on the Riders' next possession, increasing the Eskies' lead to 23-17, with 7:14 still on the third quarter clock. Edmonton couldn't capitalize with a short field on the change of possession, getting just a single point after Prefontaine missed a 38-yard field goal attempt wide left with 4:37 to go in the third. The point however did increase the lead to 24-17 in favor of the visitors from Alberta.

Saskatchewan scored early in the 4th to tie the game. Chris Getzlaf caught a screen pass from Darian Durant and did a masterful job of finding room to run, scoring on the 20-yard pass-and-catch play. Congi's convert knotted the game at 24-24 with 13:13 to go in regulation time. The Roughriders took the lead on their next possession, aided by a Jamie Boreham 3-yard run for first down on a fake punt and a pass interference call against the Eskimos, as Congi kicked a 21-yard field goal with 7:13 to go, putting Saskatchewan on top 27-24. Edmonton stunned the sellout crowd of 30,945 with a 68-yard touchdown pass from Ray to Maurice Mann late in regulation. Prefontaine's convert gave the Eskimos a 31-27 lead with 1:09 left in regular time. The Riders started their final possession at their own 42 with 60 seconds to go. Edmonton, on third-and-6, took a penalty, giving Saskatchewan a new set of downs at the Eskies' 45. Durant moved his club steadily down the field, reaching the Edmonton 17 on a great catch by Robb Bagg with 7 seconds to go. Durant's desperation heave on the game's final play landed between Getzlaf and Dressler and the Eskimos held on for the 31-27 win.

Ricky Ray led Edmonton with 25-of-34 passing for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fred Stamps had 8 catches for 119 yards and a major score, and Maurice Mann had a touchdown amomgst his 7 catches, which netted a total of 128 yards. Arkee Whitlock had a solid day running the ball, with 19 carries for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Noel Prefontaine had 4 converts and a single for the Eskimos. For the Riders, Darian Durant was 23-for-35 passing for 234 yards and one touchdown, while Steven Jyles threw an interception in his only pass attempt. Wes Cates rushed 12 times for 45 yards and a touchdown, Chris Getzlaf caught 5 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown, Omar Morgan returned a fumble a CFL record 108 yards for a touchdown and Luca Congi kicked 2 field goals and 3 converts. The Eskimos had 410 yards total offense to Saskatchewan's 285 and each team allowed one sack and had one turnover each.

There is now a three-way tie for first in the CFL West, as the Riders, Edmonton and Calgary are all 6-5 for 12 points. BC is 4th at 5-6 for 10 points.

Saskatchewan has a chance for revenge this Saturday, as they travel to Edmonton for a rematch with the Eskimos. Kickoff is set for 6:00pm EDT. Catch the live broadcast with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri beginning at 5:00pm EDT at

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