Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
CFL - Eskimos offence listless in handing Stampeders crucial points
By Rob Soria
In a season that has featured many highs and lows for the Edmonton Eskimos, Friday night's 20-18 loss to the Calgary Stampeders was easily the hardest to take. The Esks confusing offensive scheme, ultimately cost them, along with another last second missed field goal, from kicker Grant Shaw.
Edmonton - September 8, 2012 - In a season that has featured many highs and lows for the Edmonton Eskimos, Friday night's 20-18 loss to the Calgary Stampeders was easily the hardest to take. In a game in which second place in the CFL's West Division was on the line, Edmonton came to the dance with a confusing offensive scheme, that ultimately cost them two points...along with another last second missed field goal, from kicker Grant Shaw.
Eskimos killer Jon Cornish, led the way for the Stamps, with an impressive 185 yards on only sixteen carries. The twenty-seven year old also had the "big play" on the night, breaking free for the game winning 59 yard touchdown run, late in the fourth quarter.
In what was arguably one of the dullest games played by any two teams in the Canadian Football League this season, it was the Esks defence that kept the Green and Gold in it...after a less than stellar start. Calgary scored on their opening drive, courtesy of a nice grab from Johnny Forzani on a 37 yard pass from quarterback Kevin Glenn. A nice start for the visitors but give Edmonton's defence credit, they basically shut the Stampeders offence down, outside of the late scamper from Cornish, despite being on the field for what felt like the entire game.
In what was a rather odd turn of events, Edmonton went into halftime with a one point lead, thanks to a botched field goal attempt in the dying seconds of the half, that turned into a 35 yard touchdown pass by backup Matt Nichols to linebacker Corbin Sharun. Perhaps it was nothing more than the football god's having pity on the Green and Gold, for last second play's going the other way earlier in the season but it was a lead they had no right owning.
Even after being handed the lead on what amounted to nothing more than gift, Edmonton's offence continued doing what they did during the opening 30 minutes of play....absolutely nothing. For a team that features a backfield of Hugh Charles, Cory Boyd and Jerome Messam, one would think their attack would revolve around the running game. Yet for some reason, this team continues to try and move the football in the air and by CFL standards, they are failing miserably.
The fact that quarterback Kerry Joseph led this team in rushing attempts with seven, followed by Charles with six, Messam at three and Boyd and Calvin McCarty with one a piece, tells you all you need to know. Their absolute refusal to run the ball made life for the Stamps D rather easy, as Joseph threw nothing but four yard swing passes for much of the game.
A late pick from defensive back Chris Thompson, his second on the night, snuffed out another potential Calgary scoring drive late in the third quarter but again the offence could not move yardsticks. Going two and out and giving the ball right back to the Stampeders. No matter what the defence tried, it was never good enough and after bending for much of the night, they finally broke on the Cornish run.
To Calgary's credit, their offensive line opened up a hole that you could have drove a half ton truck through, never mind one of the most explosive backs in the entire CFL, and #9 did the rest. Once he found open space, he manged to slide by a couple of would be tacklers and cruise, untouched, into the end zone. With Edmonton's offence looking as it did, that should have been game over but no game in the CFL is ever over, until that final whistle.
A couple of ten plus yard runs from Joseph, a 25 yard completion to Shamawd Chambers and a 22 yard touchdown strike to Fred Stamps and suddenly the Esks offence was a live. Just like that, it was 20-18 with just over two and a half minutes to play. Leaving everyone in attendance at Commonwealth Stadium scratching their heads. Where was this during the previous three and half quarters?
Like they have much of the season, the Eskimos defence responded when called upon. They allowed Calgary to grab one first down but forced the Stamps to punt the ball away with just under ninety seconds to play. To make matters worse for the boys from down south, an undisciplined unnecessary roughness penalty on the punt return, moved Edmonton up another fifteen yards.
Despite their best efforts to try and shoot themselves in the foot, as Joseph took a time count violation on the 3rd and 8, they got the job done. Joseph found Marcus Henry for a 31 yard gain on 3rd and 18 to keep the drive alive and put the Green and Gold in field goal range. Inexplicably, Edmonton than ran Charles on consecutive plays for a total of zero yards, with a 250 pound powerback by the name of Jerome Messam sitting on the sideline...a perplexing decision on both fronts, play call and personnel, and one that would prove costly.
In what seemed like an almost fitting ending, to what was a bizarre game, Grant Shaw's 42 yard field goal attempt struck the left upright...instantly crushing the hearts of fans and teammates. That made it twice in five days, that Shaw cost them two points on the last play of the game. Tough break for the first year Eskimo but that's a kick he has to have. The one on Labour Day was no gimme, with the heavy swirling wind, but there were no excuses last night.