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From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Friday, Nov. 2, 9 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: With a place in the postseason still up for grabs, the Edmonton Eskimos try to put their best foot forward on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium as they tangle with the Calgary Stampeders.
While the Stamps have already locked up a spot in the playoffs with a second- place finish in the West Division, the same cannot be said for Edmonton which currently sits in last place in the division with a record of just 7-10 after falling to Montreal on the road last Sunday by a score of 27-25.
Against the Alouettes it appeared Edmonton was doomed almost immediately, falling behind early and trailing 20-4 with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but a cut to a finger on Kerry Joseph's throwing hand forced the starting quarterback to the sidelines and opened the door for Matt Nichols to nearly pull off the impossible.
Now in his third season in the league, Nichols stepped in and threw three touchdown passes and also a successful two-point conversion following his first major. Nichols turned his nine completed passes into a massive 230 yards and was a two-point conversion away from tying the game with no time remaining in regulation, but his pass to Cary Koch failed which meant the team was left to ponder what-if.
Edmonton rolled up 406 yards of total offense in the meeting, but it didn't help itself with 12 penalties for a loss of 69 yards. Fred Stamps, who caught a 95-yard TD pass and a 13-yard scoring strike, finished with four receptions for a game-high 128 yards in an effort to offset a pedestrian effort in the running game which resulted in only 60 yards on 13 carries.
The league's defensive player of the month for July, August and September, middle linebacker JC Sherritt set a new Edmonton single-season record for tackles with 118, surpassing Willie Pless who tallied 117 stops back in 1998. Sherritt, now in just his second CFL season, shoots for the all-time league record for tackles in a season which stands at 129, established by Calvin Tiggle of Toronto back in 1994.
As for the Stampeders, they played in the early game last week and wasted little time in notching their third straight win with a 41-21 defeat of British Columbia at home. Calgary opened the meeting with 34 unanswered points and never looked back, although the Stamps did cool off quite a bit in the second half when they registered just seven points, courtesy of kickers Rene Paredes and Rob Maver.
Mixing up the action at the quarterback position, Drew Tate, Kevin Glenn and Bo Levi Mitchell each threw a TD pass for the Stampeders, the trio combining to hit on 16-of-25 passes for 242 yards as Nik Lewis posted five catches for 81 yards and a score and Maurice Price four receptions for 104 yards and a TD as well.
Perhaps flying under the radar a bit as the aerial attack took center stage, Jon Cornish accounted for 86 rushing yards on 15 attempts which means he now has a commanding 1,388 yards rushing to lead the league and is tied with Kory Sheets of Saskatchewan for the most rushing TDs with 11. Cornish now ranks third in the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,720, trailing only Sheets (1,760) and fellow Canadian Andrew Harris (1,767). The total by Cornish is the second-most by a Canadian in league history and there's still a possibility that the bruising back could catch up and overtake Harris in this final week of the regular season as well.
The offense stole most of the thunder in the win last week for Calgary, but there was also some excitement on the defensive side of the ball as well for 36-year-old Anwar Stewart who was appearing in just his third game with the team after being signed on Oct. 10. Stewart captured the CFL Defensive Player of the Week award by tying a club record with four sacks, the team logging a season-high eight sacks overall as they tied Montreal for second in the league in that department with a total of 42 through 17 games.
With respect to the all-time, regular-season series between these two clubs, Edmonton owns a 123-85-3 advantage even with the Stampeders taking four straight and 10 of the last 12 matchups. The most recent contest took place in late September with Calgary putting up a 39-15 victory.
Since the Stampeders know where they stand in terms of the postseason, it might be only natural to have a let-down this week. With Edmonton fighting that much harder to give itself some more time on the playing field before breaking for the offseason, expect the Esks to do their part to make it happen on Friday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Edmonton 34, Calgary 28
10/31 11:28:35 ET
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