Edmonton Eskimos get swept by Calgary Stamepders, lose Harris
There is nothing like a back-to-back set against the Calgary Stampeders to turn the Edmonton Eskimos’ season on its head.
Coming into the Labour Day Series last week against their southern rivals with a 6-4 record, Edmonton followed up a 25-9 loss Monday at McMahon Stadium with a 33-17 defeat in Saturday’s rematch in front of a CFL season-high 40,113 in attendance at Commonwealth Stadium.
Aside from seeing what had been a winning record dissolve to an even 6-6 as they remain in fourth place in the West Division ahead of the hapless B.C. Lions, the Eskimos were swept in the three-game season series against Calgary.
But they didn’t just lose the game Saturday, they also lost Trevor Harris to a non-contact injury to his throwing arm, which he sustained during a handoff to running back C.J. Gable in the first quarter.
Should the injury turn out to be long-term, Harris would become the eighth QB1 in the league to fall this season, leaving just B.C. Lions quarterback Mike Reilly as the only one going the distance so far.
“We don’t have an update yet,” Eskimos head coach Jason Maas said following the loss. “It’s tough, but every team in the league has dealt with it this year. There’s no excuses. Logan (Kilgore) was prepared to play. He went out and did some great things, some other things he will learn from.”
Taking his first snaps of the season, backup Kilgore played three quarters, completing 21 of 28 passes for 242 yards and an interception that was returned 79 yards to the end zone by Stampeders defensive half DaShaun Amos. Kilgore also carried four times for five yards and a touchdown.
In 12 drives without Harris, the Eskimos ended half of them with a punt, a fumble, an interception, a turnover on downs, a field goal and a touchdown, capping a 10-play, 83-yard drive that took 5:14 of the fourth quarter to make it a 16-point game.
But it would be as close as the Eskimos would get Saturday.
“I would have liked to have gotten him better prepared, but I didn’t do my job in that regard,” Maas said. “But as far as using that as an excuse, that is no excuse. They beat us tonight and we’ve got to take it on the chin.”
The Eskimos appeared to have been prepared for this very scenario, having dressed third-string quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe for the first time in seven games.
“You never want that scenario to happen,” Kilgore said. “Trevor’s a competitor, he’s gutted out and kind of dealt with this deal for a few weeks now and probably hadn’t shown it at all.”
And it didn’t stop him from finding Tevaun Smith on a five-yard touchdown toss after coverage linebacker Don Unamba came up with an interception on Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s second pass of the game.
It was the first red-zone touchdown the Eskimos earned against Calgary this season, after having gone 0-for-3 in their two previous meetings. Kilgore made it two-for-three with his late touchdown, while a 10-yard field goal by Sean Whyte in their other trip to the doorstep of Calgary’s end zone rounded out Edmonton’s scoring.
Harris wound up completing three of five passes for nine yards, the touchdown and no interceptions in one quarter of work, while Mitchell – playing in just his second game back from a pectoral injury that sat him out for the seven previous ones – had a pair of touchdown passes to set a club record for wins by a quarterback.
“It’s a great feeling to hit that mark,” said Mitchell, who completed 25 of 40 passes for 254 yards and three interceptions to go with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Begelton and an 11-yard toss to the end zone for Eric Rogers. “It speaks to the work that this organization has put in and the trust that they have put in me over the last couple years and in the off-season, bringing me back. The credit obviously goes to the guys around me.
“Getting team wins, that’s what this has always been.”
The Stampeders improved to 7-4 to sit tied for second in the West Division with a Saskatchewan Roughriders side that fell 35-10 to the first-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.
The Eskimos, who had some pushing and shoving on the field between defensive teammates Vontae Diggs and Josh Johnson in the third quarter, are now on a bye week before returning to Commonwealth Stadium to face the East Division-leading Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday, Sept. 20 (7:30 p.m., TSN, 630 CHED).
In and out: Eskimos QB Trevor Harris only played the first quarter before sitting out with a non-contact injury to his throwing arm. DB Money Hunter was injured on an on-side kick to open the second half, but got back into the game … Stampeders LG Shane Bergman left in the first quarter and did not return.
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge