Two down and two to go.
The Edmonton Eskimos won their second straight road game, moving within two points of B.C. and Winnipeg for second place in the CFL West as they extended their winning streak to three games.
Eskimos QB Mike Reilly carved up the Montreal Alouettes defence, completing 25 of 34 attempts for 346 yards and two touchdowns as the 8-7 Eskimos racked up 519 yards offence in an efficient 40-20 Thanksgiving Day outing.
It was Reilly’s 12th 300-yard passing game of the year, two shy of the CFL record.
“It felt like we stepped up and played well most of the game,” Reilly told 630 CHED post game. “We came out a little sluggish and had a couple of turnovers that made it closer that it could have been. We did come out of the locker room and put on a solid third quarter.”
The Eskimos quarterback threw TD passes to Brandon Zylstra and Chris Getzlaf while scampering in for another as the Eskimos shook off a shaky start in which they gave Montreal three first-half turnovers.
“We caught a lot of contested balls, 50/50 balls,” said Reilly. “They (receivers) really stepped up tonight and proved they’re the best bunch in the league. They made big plays and they were fun to watch.”
Both Zylstra (104 yards) and Adarlus Bowman (112) had productive games.
“I think we’ve finally got it together,” said Bowman, who made another highlight reel catch in the second half. “We can see results now in all those areas where we were uncertain at the beginning (of the season).
“I need to see it (the catch). I felt kinda clumsy on it. Honestly, the sun was in my face so I wasn’t sure if Mike let it go. The quietness in the crowd told me ‘this has to be on me,’ so I kept on looking. At the last moment, I saw the football coming from behind the sun.”
Running back John White continued his torrid pace, running for 145 yards and adding another 13 through the air as well as punching the ball into the end zone twice on short runs.
“Our running backs and our entire offensive line have done a nice job and that’s been a huge asset for our offence as a while,” said Reilly. “It’s obvious our passing attack is hard to stop with the weapons we have out there. You combine that with a rushing attack that we’ve had the last couple of weeks, no longer can a defence key on one part of our game. We’re going to be very difficult to stop when our offence is balanced like that.”
Montreal took an early 8-3 lead after recovering a Troy Stoudermire punt return fumble at Edmonton’s eight with a Brandon Butler three-yard run.
Reilly responded four plays later tossing a 29-yard pass to Zylstra, the first TD of the rookie receiver’s CFL career.
On the next possession, Reilly drove the ball 63 yards on eight plays before White punched the ball in from the one.
Edmonton took advantage of an interception by corner Cord Parks on the first play of the second half to totally dominate, scoring three third quarter touchdowns to pull away.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage again,” said head coach Jason Maas. “The last three games, against tough defences, we were able to establish the run. We have the type of receivers that we have the potential to go downfield on you. Mike connected on two or three big throws. We want to play our best football down the stretch and I feel that’s what we’re doing.”
Reilly found Getzlaf alone in the end zone on a seven-yard pass.
Then, Reilly hoofed one in three yards out before White’s six-yard run gave Edmonton a 37-11 lead through three quarters.
Edmonton now goes into its bye week before swinging back into action at BC Place on October 22.
“You can tell this group’s special,” said linebacker J.C. Sherritt. “We’re very happy with the win by we still have a ways to go before we get to where we want to be. When you can run the ball like we did, it’s very demoralizing for a defence. Hats off to our O.”