Ottawa seeks spark in showdown with Edmonton

By The Sports NetworkAug. 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM
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The Edmonton Eskimos continue their strong start to the 2014 CFL season, as they take on the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks on Friday evening at TD Place.

The Eskimos are 5-1 on the season and sit atop the Western Division standings with Calgary.

Edmonton's lone loss came on July 24 against Stampeders (26-22), but after a bye week, the team got back to its winning ways last week with a 33-23 win at Montreal.

Winning has not come easy for the RedBlacks, who are just 1-5 on the campaign. The good news however, is that the team is still very much in the hunt in the East Division standings, as Toronto (3-4) holds just a game and a half lead after Tuesday's big win over Winnipeg.

The RedBlacks' lone win came on July 18 against the Argonauts, as the team enters this contest with a three-game losing streak in tow, including last week's 38-17 setback at Calgary.

Edmonton showed no rust following a week off, as the Esks blew the doors off the Alouettes early on, scoring 30 first-half points and cruising to a 33-23 victory at Percival Molson Stadium.

Quarterback Mike Reilly completed 15-of-22 passes, for 208 yards and two touchdowns. John White made the most of his touches, as he carried the ball just seven times, but amassed 102 yards and one touchdown. Fellow running back Kendial Lawrence was productive as well, rushing for 55 yards on five carries, while catching four balls, for 68 yards and a score. Wide receiver Adarius Bowman continued his strong season with seven receptions, for 81 yards and a touchdown. Bowman came into the week as the CFL's leading receiver with 440 yards on 35 receptions, with five TDs.

The Edmonton offense has been strong this season, coming into the week ranking third in the CFL at 352.3 yards per game. Some of the credit to the fast start has to go to a league-leading defensive effort as well, with Edmonton sitting atop the CFL in total defense, allowing just 286 yards per game, while ranking second in both rush defense (87.0 ypg) and pass defense (199.0 ypg).

Defensive tackle Almondo Sewell has been a force in the middle of the line, leading the team and tied and second in the league in sacks with six. Defensive end Odell Willis is right behind him with five.

While the Eskimos have flourished on both sides of the football, Ottawa has languished. The RedBlacks ranks seventh in the league in total offense at 335.2 ypg, and are dead last in total defense, yielding an unforgiving 417.6 ypg.

Quarterback Henry Burris has played to mixed reviews with Ottawa, completing 58.1 percent of his passes, for 1,379 yards, with five touchdowns against five interceptions.

In the lopsided loss to Calgary last week, Burris was an effective 20-of-29 passing for 281 yards, but he had just one TD pass and two interceptions. Most of that production went to wide receiver Wallace Miles, who caught five balls, for 102 yards and a touchdown.

The defensive effort was once again lacking, as Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell passed for 289 yards and three TDs in the game. One bright spot defensively for the RedBlacks was the play of linebacker Jasper Simmons, who finished with nine tackles and one interception.

Edmonton has won four straight meetings with teams from Ottawa and now holds a 38-21-2 record in regular-season matchups since 1961. That includes a 27-11 victory back on July 11.


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