Mike Reilly tosses three touchdowns, Eskimos beat Stampeders 29-20
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EDMONTON — Quick strike passes produced the points but it was one of Edmonton's most balanced offensive showings of the season that carried the Eskimos to a vital 29-20 victory over the Calgary Stampeders Saturday.
"I think it probably was," quarterback Mike Reilly said of the balanced attack. "Thinking about guys who made plays. C.J. (Gable) had a great night in the run game. I was able to run the ball a fair amount. I know Adarius (Bowman) came up huge with some big-time catches. I know (Brandon) Zylstra did as well. I know DW (Derel Walker) had a great catch down the field to set us up for a touchdown. Everybody was pitching in tonight and that was great to see.
"It's going to take all of us. This late in the year if you're relying on one guy to make plays you're going to get stuffed by a great defence and that was a great defence we played tonight. The only way to have success against them is to spread the ball around."
Reilly did just that.
He completed 18-of-27 passes for 284 yards. Bowman had five catches for 49 yards and two touchdowns, Vidal Hazelton had four for 51 yards, Zylstra three for 101 yards and a touchdown and Walker caught four for 75 yards. Gable ran 18 times for 82 yards.
After a slow opening quarter Reilly hit Walker for a 45-yard reception to set up Bowman's eight-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He hit Zylstra for a 77-yard touchdown early in the third and then Bowman from 17 yards to build a 23-13 third-quarter margin.
Reilly also ran seven times for 48 yards, mostly in the final quarter.
"The legs are feeling alright," he said afterwards. "We were talking last week how I don't necessarily do that as much early in the season, but there's a time and place. Late in the year when the weather gets cold you have to be able to run the ball and if they can just key on the running back it makes it easier for them. That was an added benefit for us tonight, the run game with both C.J. and myself."
The win, Edmonton's fourth straight, pulled the Eskimos into a second-place tie in the West Division with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, two points up on Saskatchewan Roughriders with one game left for each team.
"This is huge," Reilly said of beating first-place Calgary. "Not because of who it was against. I mean that was important because we haven't beaten Calgary a lot and they're the best team in the league right now. More than anything, with one game left in regular season we wanted to build our momentum going into the playoffs. Feels good to get this win, but we need to improve before the next game because (Saskatchewan) is playing really good football right now."
The Eskimos are in Regina next weekend to play the Riders while Winnipeg travels to Calgary. Those two games will determine who finishes second, third and fourth in the west, who gets home field for the west semi-final and who heads to the eastern semi-final.
The loss was Calgary's second straight and while the offence again struggled, head coach Dave Dickensen wasn't totally displeased with what he saw.
'I did like the effort," he said. "We're not playing for a position but we understand every game matters and the effort was good. We struggled in the penalty battle, we definitely took too many penalties. I didn't like our return game."
But he felt quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who completed 24-of-25 passes for 307 yards and touchdowns to Anthony Parker and Kamar Jorden, showed he had rebounded from last weekend's loss.
"I feel like Bo slung the ball out there pretty good and we probably had three, four, five drops that we just can't have against a good team. But I thought we took a small step forward as an offence."