EDMONTON – Adarius Bowman reeled in three touchdown passes as the Edmonton Eskimos came away with a 27-11 victory over the expansion Ottawa Redblacks on Friday.
The Eskimos improved to 3-0 on the season under rookie head coach Chris Jones and 2-0 on their home turf at Commonwealth Stadium.
By contrast, Edmonton only won one home game last year and were 1-9 in their first 10 games last season on their way to a disappointing 4-14 campaign.
The Redblacks are still searching for their first win this season, sitting at 0-2 since the CFL returned to Ottawa.
The game started quietly, with the only scoring in the first quarter coming from a punt single by Eskimos kicker Grant Shaw. The Redblacks went the entire first quarter without an offensive first down.
Ottawa scored midway through the second quarter as Chevon Walker got loose on a handoff from quarterback Henry Burris and blazed 65 yards into the end zone to put the Redblacks up 7-1.
Edmonton got into scoring range late in the second but Shaw’s 23-yard field goal attempt at the buzzer was wide to make it 7-2 Ottawa at the half.
The Eskimos woke up to start the third quarter, marching down the field on their first possession before QB Mike Reilly found Bowman for a 41-yard pass-and-run touchdown. That play was followed by a single on the ensuing kickoff to put Edmonton in front 10-7.
Shaw added another punt single seven minutes into the third.
Ottawa wasn’t getting full value for its field goal attempts as well, as Brett Maher missed a 36-yarder with just over a minute to play in the third for another single to make it 11-8 Edmonton heading into the final frame.
The Eskimos added to their lead just 52 seconds into the fourth quarter as Reilly hooked up with his favourite target on the night again, passing to Bowman, who made a beautiful one-handed catch for a 30-yard TD strike.
The Edmonton defence came up big three minutes into the fourth as they stuffed a third-and-one gamble at the Ottawa 25-yard-line to turn the ball over on downs. The Esks made the most of the opportunity as Reilly rolled out on a play fake and passed to Bowman for a one-yard TD and a 25-8 lead.
The Redblacks chipped back with a 34-yard Maher field goal with five-and-a-half minutes remaining.
Edmonton got a safety with two minutes left when Marcus Howard sacked Burris in the end zone.
The Eskimos return to action next Thursday in Winnipeg, while the Redblacks have their first home game in their newest incarnation next Friday against Toronto.
Notes: The Edmonton Eskimos came into the game with a 37-21-2 all-time record against Ottawa CFL franchisesa Ottawa had a lineup laced with former Eskimos players and coaches. The eight former Edmonton players in the lineup for the Redblacks included Marcus Henry, T.J. Hill, Justin Capicciotti, Alexander Krausnick, Matt Carter, Dobson Collins, Brandon Lang, and Carlton Mitchell, while the six coaches who spent time in Edmonton before moving on to Ottawa are head coach Rick Campbell, Mark Nelson, Marcus Crandell, Travis Moore, Leroy Blugh and Jordan Maksymica The Eskimos were without the services of star linebacker J.C. Sherritt for the second time this season after suiting up in their win against Hamilton last Friday. He was replaced by Dexter McCoila It was the first appearance by an Ottawa team in Commonwealth Stadium since the Renegades opened the 2005 season in Edmontona The attendance at the game was 31,521.
© The Canadian Press, 2014