EDMONTON — There doesn’t appear to be any rust on Mike Reilly.
The Eskimos’ quarterback led Edmonton to the end zone on his team’s first two drives and they didn’t look back from there in a 35-12 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL’s first pre-season game of 2018 on Sunday.
“It felt good to get back out on the field. It’s pre-season, so I take it with a grain of salt. I just wanted to make sure our guys were lined up properly and doing the right things out there and they were,” Reilly said. “That showed up in a couple of successful drives. I’m glad to see the guys play hard, play fast and come out looking like they weren’t rusty.”
Eskimos head coach Jason Maas was satisfied with the effort.
“You’re always pleased with a win, it validates what you’ve been doing in practice week-in and week-out, and what we’ve been seeing out of our group,” Maas said. “We’ve been great with sudden change in practice for the week and this game, they showed up again.”
Saskatchewan, which dressed a rookie-laden lineup, was unable to score a touchdown in the contest.
“You can’t turn the ball over and have as many penalties as we had and expect to win the game,” said Riders head coach Chris Jones. “The goal of the offence is to score touchdowns and when you don’t score them and your opponent does, it is not something that you look at very kindly.
“You would have hoped that we would have come here farther along, but we left about 10-12 veterans, and basically the entire defence at home. We left a lot of our defensive leaders at home.”
Reilly, who was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player last season, got the start and took the team down the field to score on their first possession, a three-yard touchdown run by CJ Gable.
Edmonton connected on its next drive as well, with Reilly hitting Duke Williams for a 20-yard TD strike to give the Eskimos an early 14-0 lead.
Saskatchewan responded with a 25-yard Brett Lauther field goal.
Kevin Glenn, who has now officially been with teams in all nine CFL cities, took over from Reilly, but Edmonton’s third drive stalled with a turnover on downs at the Roughriders’ seven, eventually leading to another Lauther field goal.
Lauther then hit a 54-yard field goal to make it 14-9.
Edmonton closed out the first half with a late 11-yard TD run by Shaq Cooper after an interception from Johnny Adams.
Lauther kicked a fourth field goal to start the third quarter.
The Eskimos got their fourth TD of the afternoon on a 37-yard run up the middle by Jordan Robinson.
Edmonton’s fourth QB of the game, Zach Kline, scored on a one-yard plunge early in the fourth, coming on the heels of a Mark Mackie fumble recovery to put the Esks ahead 35-12.
The Eskimos continue pre-season play on Friday when they visit Winnipeg. The Riders next play host to the Calgary Stampeders on June 8.
Notes: The Eskimos dressed a massive lineup of 86 players for the game, while the Roughriders clocked in with 69 players… Riders not making the trip for the game included quarterbacks Zach Collaros and Canadian pivot Brandon Bridge. Former Philadelphia Eagles receiver David Watford got in his first game action at quarterback in nearly three years… Edmonton will play host to the 106th Grey Cup in November… The Eskimos went 12-6 last season, while Saskatchewan was 10-8.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press