Late field goal lifts Eskimos over Tiger-Cats in Eastern semi
Hamilton's 4th-quarter rally falls short; Edmonton could represent East in Grey Cup
Sean Whyte's nine-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining earned the Edmonton Eskimos an exciting 24-21 East Division semifinal win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday.
Edmonton will visit the Ottawa Redblacks in the East Division final next weekend, with the winner representing the conference in the Grey Cup game Nov. 27 at BMO Field.
Edmonton (10-8) was fourth in the West Division but earned the crossover after posting a better record than third-place finisher Montreal (7-11). Hamilton, also 7-11, won the tiebreaker for second place.
Whyte's game-winning boot came after Kenny Ladler intercepted Hamilton starter Zach Collaros at the 20-yard line. But Whyte got the chance for his kick because running back John White recovered his own fumble at the Hamilton 25-yard line for a five-yard loss.
White made up for it with a 23-yard run, putting Edmonton at the Hamilton two-yard line with 34 seconds to play.
White scored TDs on Edmonton's opening two possessions and ran for over 160 yards as an effective counter to the stiff southwest 25-to-35 kilometre-an-hour wind. That's no accident as the Eskimos boasted the CFL's second-leading ground attack this season (103.7 yards per game).
"Man it feels great," White said. "I'm not going to get too into it but I just want to take care of the next game and try to get to that Grey Cup the right way.
Ti-Cats make it interesting
Hamilton made it interesting in the fourth with the wind. Brett Maher's 85-yard kickoff single with 4:01 remaining tied it 21-21 and energized the Tim Hortons Field sellout of 24,182. The single came after Collaros hit Brian Tyms on the two-point convert following Jeremiah Masoli's two-yard TD run at 10:29.
It was set up by Jermaine Robinson's recovery of Brett Maher's 36-yard onside punt at the Edmonton 36.
Maher's 24-yard field goal 40 seconds into the fourth cut Edmonton's lead to 21-12.
Gable cut Edmonton's lead to 18-9 with a two-yard TD run at 6:16 of the third. It capped an eight-play, 59-yard drive on Hamilton's second-half possession but Maher missed the convert.
Edmonton took a 21-9 lead on Whyte's 42-yard field goal at 12:17.
The loss was Hamilton's fifth straight at home and dropped its Tim Hortons Field record to 3-7 this year. The Ti-Cats were also 2-9 versus West Division teams.
Hamilton played without injured receivers Andy Fantuz, Chad Owens and Luke Tasker and lost Canadian safeties Courtney Stephen and Mike Daly to injury in the contest.
Injury won't hold back Reilly
Edmonton finished without starter Mike Reilly, who suffered an upper-body injury in the fourth on a rushing play. James Franklin replaced Reilly, who made it crystal clear afterwards that he'll start next weekend in Ottawa.
"I have no doubt, no," said Reilly, who was 10-of-19 passing for 133 yards while rushing for 20 yards on four carries. "I've played through worse than whatever I'll be dealing with."