Canadian Football League

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Als below .500 at Canadian Football League season half-way point

Ricky Ray and Jason Tucker proved to be too much for the Montreal Alouettes.
Montreal Alouettes Mike Vilimek, top, takles Eskimos Kwame Cavil during first quarter CFL action in Edmonton on Friday. Ray had his second straight 400-yard passing game and favourite target Tucker had nine catches for 217 receiving yards and one touchdown in the Edmonton Eskimos 36-26 win over Montreal Friday night.
"They've got a feel for one another," said Edmonton coach Danny Maciocia.
The Eskimos ran away with the game after a 19-19 tie was broken in the third quarter after Ray found Tucker for gains of 45 and 20 yards to set up Ron McClendon's two-yard scoring run.
An 82-yard loft to Tucker on Edmonton's first series of the second quarter set up Ray's four-yard scoring run on the next play. Ray finished 28-of-39 for 438 yards.
"He runs such good routes and knows how to work defenders," said Ray of Tucker, who also caught seven passes from Ray for 132 yards and two touchdowns in being named the 2003 Grey Cup MVP. "He's going to do the right thing and get to the right spot."
After Edmonton defenders A.J. Gass and Cedric Scott stuffed the Alouettes twice on third-short in the first quarter, the Eskimos also caught Anthony Calvillo for a safety before Ray found Tucker for a 22-yard score at 13:24 to make it 9-7.
"I just go out there and do my job," said Tucker. "I take pride in what I do."
Edmonton (6-3) entered the half-way point of the season by erasing a two-game losing streak while the Alouettes (4-5) dropped their second straight game following last week's 40-37 home loss to Calgary.
Alouettes coach Don Matthews said heads may roll off his struggling club.
"The team has to get better," Matthews said. "I don't know about drastic but certainly we need to play better football than what we're playing."
Ray rubbed salt in the wound with a five-yard strike to slotback Kwame Cavil in the fourth quarter, whom the Eskimos acquired July 21 in a trade with Montreal. To make matters worse, ex-Alouette William Loftus - playing for the injured ex-Alouette Kelly Wiltshire - picked off quarterback Anthony Calvillo midway through the fourth quarter to snuff out a crucial drive. Alouettes backup quarterback Ted White finished the game.
"We were waiting for this game for a long time,"' said Edmonton offensive co-ordinator R.D. Lancaster.
Edmonton, a woeful eighth in CFL rushing entering the game, had a 20-yard run from McClendon to set up Kavil's the touchdown, and he finished with 69 yards on nine carries despite having his bell rung on a three-man gang tackle in the second quarter, and losing the ball on a fumble in the fourth.
"They didn't know whether we were running or passing the ball,' said McClendon. "Tonight I felt like I was on a different team out there."
Alouettes special teams player Matthieu Proulx charged in untouched to block Sean Fleming's punt in the first quarter which lineman Rob Brown recovered and ran to the one to set up Mike Vilimek's one-yard run. Brown also pasted Ray in the end zone for the game's second safety in the third quarter.
Tucker turned spoiler later it the third quarter, tipping a Ray pass right into the arms of Alouettes defensive back Almondo Curry, who ran the ball to Edmonton's 21.
Four plays later Eric Lapointe caught a three-yard pass from Calvillo to make it 16-14.
Edmonton led 19-14 at the half after import kicker Hayden Epstein made good on a 34-yard field goal The Eskimos demoted 14-season veteran Sean Fleming to only handle punting duties after making just 11 of 19 field goal attempts this season.
Epstein, 25, a seventh-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2002, was also good from 22 yards in the fourth quarter.
Calvillo was 28-of-42 for 323 yards while Kerry Watkins had eight catches for 130 yards and Dave Stala finished with 10 receptions for 116 yards for the Alouettes.
Montreal slotback Terry Vaughn had six catches for 63 yards in his first return to Edmonton since an off-season trade ended six straight 1,000-yard seasons with he Eskimos.
"We just didn't make the plays to stay with them," said Vaughn. "It just adds up and you can't do that playing on the road."
Free agent running back Michael Jenkins was signed by Edmonton Thursday after being released from Montreal after two games on the Als practice roster, but didn't dress.
NOTES: The Eskimos sported dark green pants for the first time this season ... the game raised $17,000 dollars and produced 9000 kilograms of food in the Purolater Tackle Hunger Program ... Wiltshire was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury following a hard collision with Vaughn in the third quarter. "it was a big jolt, but obviously he got the worst of it," said Vaughn. "I try to be the hammer not the nail."


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