Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Eskimos hold off last second TiCat charge to secure home opener win

It was as wild a finish as the CFL can provide, built on a game of much sloppy ball handling, far too many turnovers and a controversial hit that sent the visiting quarterback to the sidelines for the remainder of the game.

The game while offering up much in entertainment, would clearly be the thing to make any coach (those that still have hair) reach for the Grecian formula...

Sloppiness was indeed the word on the day, as both the Cats and the Eskimos managed to find ways to lose the ball and provide each other ample opportunity to capitalize on each others mistakes.

Penalties played a role as well in the outcome, with Edmonton in particular tempting fate by accumulating some 102 yards in penalties, with the referees reaching for their flags eleven times by games end.

For much of the early going it appeared that Kent Austin's Tiger Cats were going to bring the Eskimos down to earth after their season opening victory over the BC Lions, however things it would seem will not come easy for the Cats this year.

Indications that the night might turn against Hamilton came when Zach Collaros was forced from the game at the mid point of the second quarter, after taking a nasty hit from the Eskimos Odell Willis.

One which did not receive a flag from the officials, but made for a flash of anger from head coach Kent Austin and provided for much discussion for the remainder of the night on the legality of the shot.

The theme of inconsistency on referee calls would make for much of that conversation while fans weighed in on the theme through twitter and watched to see if Jeremiah Masoli could rally the Cats offence to the finish line on the night.

And while Masoli had his moments he also provided for two key interceptions that allowed Edmonton to begin their comeback, a rolling wave of points that allowed the Eskimos to mount one of the CFL's famous comebacks, with Hamilton watching a 10 point lead vanish as Edmonton made their push.

The improbable Edmonton comeback, provided the Esks placekicker Grant Shaw with an opportunity for redemption late in the game, following some high profile misses in the fourth quarter. When the points were needed the most however, Shaw found his range in the final two minutes putting two consecutive three pointers up to push the Esks into the lead.

The Eskimos took the game to the final minutes holding to their 28-24 lead, leaving the Tiger Cats to launch a last minute drive down the field, with Dan Lefevour at the helm and giving indications that he was going to bring the victory home for the Cats.

However, despite moving the ball impressively and setting up shop on the Edmonton five yard line, Lefevour and the Cats could not make make the Eskimo defence bend, with Edmonton stopping the Cats on the goal line on the final play of the game.

The 28-24 Eskimo lead would turn into the final score on the night and while the Cats probably deserved a victory on perseverance alone, they were denied owing to the Esks holding their defensive line in the dying seconds of the game.

Both teams face some major issues to deal with following week two action, with a string of injuries from the night looking to make things even more complicated for both head coaches as they try to patch up their players and their lineup to fill in the gaps.

Instead of two teams leaving Commonwealth with 1 and 1 records after two weeks of play, the Cats now remain winless and the Eskimos find themselves holders of a title they haven't heard much of late, that of undefeated on the year so far.

Some reviews of the to the wire finish can be found below.

Edmonton Sun-- Eskimos salvage sloppy home-opener by pulling out late win against Tiger-Cats
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos defence turns game around in fourth quarter against Tiger-Cats
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats blow 10 point fourth quarter lead, lose 28-24 to Esks

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