CFL Pass

Kilgore scores both Eskimos touchdowns in pre-season debut

There’s not a lot in the way of room for movement on the quarterback depth chart here in Edmonton Eskimos training camp.

After all, the same day they lost Mike Reilly in free agency, they turned around and signed his replacement, Trevor Harris, as the new QB1.

But how the rest of the list shakes down might not be so cut and dry.

Danny O’Brien returns for his third season with the Eskimos and fourth under head coach Jason Maas, who was his offensive co-ordinator with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2015.

That set him up in the No. 2 spot behind Harris coming into camp. But, not so fast.

Logan Kilgore might have had something to say about the order of things as the only Eskimos quarterback to find the end zone in Sunday’s 22-7 pre-season win over the B.C. Lions.

And not just once, either. Kilgore scored both of Edmonton’s touchdowns, rushing for one and throwing for the other.

The first came on a quarterback keeper from one yard out after a defensive pass-interference call against Lions defensive back Marloshawn Franklin got the ball rolling in the second quarter.

“We benefitted from a couple of calls. Sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don’t,” said Kilgore, a six-foot-three, 206-pound Middle Tennessee State product, who is entering his fourth Canadian Football League season. “We felt like we might have had a touchdown there with (Kenny) Stafford on that first post, so that pass-interference call was warranted.

“You don’t want to have to rely on that, but it helped us out. And in any event, we were able to capitalize when we had the chance.”

And again when he got another in the third quarter, with a 12-yard heave to the back of the end zone for Tevaun Smith.

“It was a great route,” Kilgore said. “The corner was down, and we were able to hit it behind him. Tevaun’s been making those plays in practice, very happy to have him here.

“And, obviously, for him, just to be able to learn from the veteran presence of the guys ahead of him, it’s huge.”

Kilgore’s rushing touchdown might as well have been the first by an Eskimos quarterback not named Reilly since Jordan Lynch snuck in the game-winner in the 2015 Grey Cup.

Since then, Reilly was famous for handling most, if not all, the Eskimos short-yardage attempts, including the ones into the end zone contributing to his 34 rushing touchdowns over the past three seasons since.

“It was definitely nice to go out there and see some different looks and play against a different defence. I know the guys were happy to hit some other-coloured jerseys,” said Kilgore, who completed three of six passes for 38 yards and the touchdown, while rushing twice for one yard into the end zone. “It was a great time. And for the most part, offensively, we executed and got in and out of the huddle pretty well. And for the first pre-season game, that’s pretty much what you’re trying to do: Get in and out of the huddle, limit the injuries and execute when the opportunities present themselves. I think we did that.”

Kilgore, it’s worth noting, started three games for the Toronto Argonauts in 2016, including a 46-23 loss to the Eskimos, which began with Reilly throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the opening snap.

Of course, only so much faith can be placed on a pre-season performance.

If they meant something more, Zach Kline wouldn’t have been let go by the Eskimos in the off-season. He’s the quarterback who, on his first ever in-game snap in the CFL, threw a pass in the 2017 pre-season that went for a 90-yard touchdown to some new receiver by the name of Duke Williams.

After running down the field in exuberance, nearly catching the speedy receiver in the process, Kline returned to the sidelines, his night finished. But all it’s worth now is a pre-season footnote in club history.

Still, there are worse ways for a quarterback to start an Eskimos chapter of his career than Kilgore has.

“Absolutely, I love the city here. My family was up here for the game and they had a great time. They loved the experience,” said the native of Sacramento, Calif., who signed with the Eskimos on Feb. 22, after spending last season out of football. “It’s great. I’ve always been told by multiple players, if you ever get a chance to play in the West, you’ve got to do it, so it was a no-brainer.”


On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge