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Edmonton defeats Saskatchewan in clash of new coaches

Jul 4, 2011 - 4:46 AM Regina, SK (Sports Network) - Ricky Ray completed 21-of-27 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns, as the Edmonton Eskimos opened their 2011 season with a convincing 42-28 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Field.

Sunday's game featured a pair of CFL head-coaching debuts, with Kavis Reed calling the shots for the Eskimos and Greg Marshall guiding the Roughriders. Both Reed and Marshall were defensive players in the CFL and each spent 10 or more years as an assistant coach before being promoted this off-season.

Jason Barnes caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns for Edmonton, which finished last in the West Division last season with a 7-11 record. Adarius Bowman hauled in seven passes for 103 yards and a score.

Daniel Porter and Kerry Joseph added a rushing TD apiece for the Eskimos, who forced four turnovers.

"I'd say we played a really good game against a very good team and we came out with a win," Reed said.

"It was a very strong performance, but there are still a lot of things that we need to improve on. I hope nobody is preparing a parade route because we have a lot of things that we need to work on and improve on."

Darian Durant, who led the CFL last season with 5,542 passing yards, completed 27-of-37 passes for 339 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions for the Roughriders, who won the West the past two years and suffered hard-fought Grey Cup losses to Montreal.

Weston Dressler hauled in seven passes for 109 yards. Wes Cates carried the ball 10 times for 56 yards and a score to go with six catches for 47 yards in defeat.

"We allowed Ricky Ray to get too comfortable in the pocket," Marshall said. "He had too much time to throw the ball and got in a rhythm. When we got pressure he was already comfortable."

The Eskimos came out of the gates wanting to make a statement. On their second possession of the game, Ray used a nice pump-fake to find a wide-open Barnes down the left sideline for a 35-yard score.

Saskatchewan responded on its ensuing drive, as Durant hooked up with ex- Eskimo Efrem Hill for a 14-yard score to make it 7-7.

Barnes' second touchdown of the contest put the Eskimos right back in front. An 11-play drive ended with Barnes making a contested 14-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone for a 14-7 margin with over two minutes to go in the first quarter.

Damon Duval made a pair of field goals -- from 48 and 22 yards out -- early in the second stanza to give the visitors a 20-7 lead.

After Eddie Johnson made a 43-yard field goal for the Roughriders, Porter scampered into the end zone from five yards out to give Edmonton a 27-10 edge.

Saskatchewan, however, was able to put 10 more points on the board before the half. A 22-yard field goal by Johnson was followed by a 24-yard Cates TD run to make it 27-20 at the half.

Edmonton scored the only eight points of the third quarter to create some distance. A Duval single with over five minutes to go made it an eight-point contest.

Durant was then picked off by Weldon Brown at the Edmonton 48, and Ray completed three straight passes to move the ball to the five-yard line. Following a one-yard run by Calvin McCarty, Bowman caught a four-yard TD pass to make it a 35-20 game with 1:38 to go.

The Eskimos put the game away early in the fourth. Ray hooked up with Bowman on a 32-yard pass down the right sideline that was called a touchdown on the field. Replay showed that Bowman lost the football before crossing the line. Joseph pushed his way into the end zone on 3rd-and-goal from the one to make it 42-20 with 10:20 to play.

Johnson's single and Jason Clermont's 22-yard TD catch accounted for the final margin.

Game Notes

Edmonton has won three of the last four meetings against Saskatchewan... The start of the game was delayed by about 15 minutes due to a hail storm... Edmonton defensive lineman Etienne Legare recorded his first-career sack in the first quarter...The Eskimos turned the ball over zero times.