It was a long time coming, but Kerry Joseph finally got the "W" he was looking for.
Joseph threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns on Friday night, leading the Edmonton Eskimos (6-8) to a 35-20 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (5-9) at Commonwealth Stadium, snapping a personal nine game losing streak as a starter dating back to July of 2009. It also ended a five-game slide for the Eskimos and vaults them into the crossover spot in the CFL's East Division, which Joseph says feels great.
"The guys are very excited right now, it's been a long time, it's been a month, it's a good feeling," said Joseph. "It's good to see guys smiling again and jumping for joy after a victory, but you know what? We've still got a lot of work to do and we know that we can just be better."
Marcus Henry, Matt Carter and Fred Stamps had touchdown grabs for the Eskimos, with Hugh Charles also running one in. Stamps had a huge game, hauling in nine catches for 204 yards, and says there was a different feeling around the team and in the huddle this week.
"Kerry's a leader, it's a different feeling when you get in the huddle," said Stamps. "You could just feel it, he's a spark in that huddle so that's the type of quarterback that we've been needing. We have three quarterbacks like that, [but] tonight Kerry just came in with a different swagger."
Bakari Grant and Andy Fantuz caught touchdown passes for the visiting Ti-Cats, who beat the Eskimos 51-8 just two weeks earlier.
The game began with back-to-back interceptions from Joseph and Burris on each team's opening drives, with the Eskimos taking three points from the second turnover. Grant Shaw got his side on the board with a 49-yard field goal, surely a big confidence boost for the young kicker. Edmonton was forced to punt on the next possession and Hamilton's Chris Williams would make them pay with a 42-yard return, but that drive ended with a Chris Thompson interception, the 25th of his career. Luca Congi hit a couple of field goals in the second quarter for the visitors to put them in front, but a Marcus Henry touchdown with just over two minutes to go in the half restored the lead for the Eskimos.
The lead didn't last long though - on Hamilton's opening drive of the second half, Burris marched his team up the field and hit Bakari Grant to make it a 13-10 game. After both teams were forced to punt, the Eskimos pulled back in front on a 15-yard run into the end zone by Hugh Charles. Once again though, that lead wouldn't last long.
Despite having to punt on their next drive, the Ti-Cats got the ball back on a fumble and turned that into another seven points. One play after the Joe Burnett turnover, Burris hit Andy Fantuz for his franchise-record 34th touchdown pass of the season and the 20-17 lead.
Matt Carter provided the sixth lead change of the game, after a couple of big plays by Fred Stamps got the Eskimos close to the Hamilton end zone. A 28-yard catch by Stamps set up a seven yard toss from Joseph to Carter, giving the Eskimos a 24-20 edge early in the fourth quarter. The home team added to the lead with a field goal, and on his next attempt, Henry Burris was picked off again by Chris Thompson while trying to go deep. Right away, Kerry Joseph found Stamps for a 48-yard TD catch and a 34-20 advantage for the Green & Gold. The Ti-Cats turned the ball over on downs late in the fourth quarter, putting the ball back in Edmonton's hands and allowing them to eat up some valuable time. On their final possession of the evening, Burris lost control of the football and it was recovered by the Eskimos, ending the contest.
The Eskimos host the Saskatchewan Roughriders next Saturday - a game you can hear live on 630 CHED. (jk)
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