Maas: 'We have the best defence in the league'
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Eskimos are now 5-3 in a highly-competitive West division after their 16-12 victory over the Ottawa REDBLACKS, and their defence is a big reason why.
Leading the league in multiple defensive categories, the Esks’ defensive unit came up big again in Week 9 by notching a pair of interceptions and stopping Ottawa’s fourth quarter comeback attempt.
“Tremendous job,” Eskimos head coach Jason Maas said after the win. “I feel like they’re in the top for a reason. To do what they did on that last drive with three chances at the 10-yard line, to shut a team down, tremendous.”
» Gable lifts Esks over REDBLACKS with pair of touchdowns
» Images: REDBLACKS at Eskimos
» By the Numbers: View Boxscore
» Watch: Gable changes direction into the end zone
» Watch: Hoover grabs a weird INT to end the half
“We have the best defence in the league in my opinion,” Maas said. “I know there’s a lot of great ones out there, but they’re rated in a lot of categories number one right now and it’s for a reason.”
Although the REDBLACKS were able to rack up 386 offensive yards against the Esks, Edmonton’s defence came up with big stops in key moments and kept the game close while the offence found its rhythm.
“Their offence did a good job moving the ball, but our defence did a good job hanging tough and keeping them out of scoring range,” Quarterback Trevor Harris said. “They stood on their head in the second half for us, and we’ve got to make sure we’re doing our part in terms of finishing drives and not turning the ball over in their territory and getting stuffed. Once we do that, we can be a scary good team.”
Combined with efficient passing from Harris and the best rushing performance of the season from C.J. Gable, the Esks showed their completeness as a team in the win against Ottawa. Gable helped sustain drives while wearing down the REDBLACKS’ defensive front with 116 tough yards and a pair of touchdowns on 18 carries.
“C.J. had a tremendous game,” Maas said. “The touchdown at the beginning set the tone for it.”
Harris is now up to a league-leading 2,631 passing yards after his 327-yard performance against Ottawa. The veteran quarterback has thrown for over 300 yards in four of his eight games this season while only being intercepted twice.
“We were taking what the defence gave us,” Maas said. “Trevor did a gob job of that all night. When we look at the film there will be other things that were maybe there, but ultimately he made good decisions, kept the ball out of their hands and put the ball where our guys could do something with it.”
But Edmonton’s passing attack was unable to reach the end zone against Ottawa, and the offence ended up turning the ball over four times.
“We can’t make this a habit,” Harris said. “It’s getting to mid-season now, and we’ve got to start rounding to form into who we are and being dominant in those situations and not letting small things make us hiccup.”
The Edmonton Eskimos will look to claim their sixth win of the season when they take on the Toronto Argonauts in a Week 10 road game next Friday.