With their fourth victory in their last five CFL games, the Edmonton Elks are literally on the move.
The Elks, who started the season 0-9, are on a roll behind a running game that dominates their opponents. Edmonton racked up 265 rushing yards Friday night as they beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 36-27 at Mosaic Stadium.
This performance followed a 25-23 victory over the Calgary Stampeders on September 9, where the Elks totaled 226 rushing yards. Combined with the electric sk**ls of quarterback Tre Ford, whose scrambling ability is a dangerous weapon, the Elks have found an offensive formula that works.
“A big part (of the streak) was the running game. If you look at the stats, the ground game has been phenomenal,” said Ford, who completed 13 of 20 pa*ses for 170 yards while gaining 70 yards rushing on eight carries.
“We ran for 270 today and last week we were over 200, so when you can run the ball and control the clock, it’s going to open up the pa*sing game for me and it’ll make my job easier .
“Our offense is currently playing at a very high pace and we are executing at a decent level. I wouldn’t say high level, we made quite a few mistakes again today. We still have a lot of room for improvement but 36 is a lot of points.
Edmonton halfback Kevin Brown set a career high for the second straight week. He totaled 143 yards rushing in last week’s win over the Stampeders, but he surpa*sed that total Friday, gaining 175 yards on 19 carries. He added a touchdown on a 35-yard run.
Although he gained plenty of yards between the tackles, Brown’s touchdown was a sprint around the right end and down the sideline to the end zone.
“I was going to run up the middle and it wasn’t open, so I just hit it to the outside as fast as I could. Geno (Lewis) was blocking on the edge, so I just went around and down the sideline. Once I got to the corner, I knew I was going to score, no one was going to catch me,” Brown said.
The Elks took their first lead of the game with 5:35 left in the fourth quarter when Ford ran 10 yards for a touchdown that ended a 27-27 deadlock. Jake Ceresna sealed the victory by sacking Saskatchewan quarterback Jake Dolegala for a safety with 1:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. It was Ceresna’s eighth sack this season.
Ford tied the Elks even at 12:36 of the final quarter when he connected with Lewis on a 30-yard touchdown pa*s. Facing second-and-17, Ford appeared to get caught in the backfield, but he broke away to center field and then found Lewis wide open at the Saskatchewan goal line.
“I have to congratulate Geno on this play. When I’m back out there and doing what I’m doing, our receivers have to remember that they can keep playing and moving around. And they did a good job. I was able to find them in the end zone on what was the second 20 or something like that. It was a really big play for us,” Ford said.
The win improves the Elks’ record to 4-10 and keeps the 6-7 Riders in their sights in the race for third place in the West Division.
Despite the current hot streak, head coach Chris Jones said the Elks are not focused on a playoff berth.
In fashion now
“We’re just talking about winning games, so the next game is the next game, all these other things have to take care of themselves. When you start looking and you have to rely on this team and that team (to help make the playoffs), the only people we can count on are the people here. That’s what we’re looking at,” Jones said.
The Riders took a 27-20 lead in the fourth quarter after touchdowns from Tevin Jones, on a 26-yard reception, and Samuel Emilus, on a 12-yard reception, in the third quarter. Emilus’ middle finger was set up by a 57-yard pa*s from backup quarterback Antonio Pipkin to Jamal Morrow on a fake sneak.
Saskatchewan controlled the game for most of the first half. After Saskatchewan’s Brett Lauther opened the scoring with a 26-yard field goal midway through the first quarter, Shawn Bane Jr. increased the lead to 10-0 with 1:36 left in the quarter with a 13-yard touchdown.
The Elks responded early in the second quarter on a trap play. Facing second and two at the Saskatchewan 11-yard line, backup quarterback Taylor Cornelius faked a fake and connected with AC Leonard for a high to cut the deficit to 10-7. Leonard, a defensive lineman who entered the game with 10 sacks, has history as a receiver since he entered the league in 2015 as a tight end.
Saskatchewan took a 13-10 lead into halftime as Lauther, with a 30-yarder, and Dean Faithfull, with a 16-yarder, exchanged scores after Leonard’s touchdown.
Dolegala saw his streak of consecutive pa*s attempts without an interception end in the first quarter on his third pa*s attempt of the night. The interception, by Edmonton cornerback Marcus Lewis, ended Dolegala’s streak of 110 pa*s attempts.
Edmonton receiver Manny Arceneaux extended his consecutive game receiving streak with a nine-yard catch in the second quarter. Arceneaux’s streak now stands at 142 games, which is the fifth-longest streak in CFL history. Saskatchewan’s Don Narcisse holds the record with receptions in 216 consecutive games.
Both teams will return to action on September 22 as the Riders travel to Ottawa to face the Redblacks, while the Elks host the BC Lions.
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