EDMONTON — As long as there is time left on the clock, its tough to count out Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly.
Reilly ran in the winning touchdown inside the three-minute warning and passed for another as the Eskimos won their third game in a row, emerging with a 26-19 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday.
"A win is a win, man," said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. "You play a Western Conference opponent at home, they were a tough opponent and they gave us everything. It was grind-it-out win and we’ll take it. We don’t apologize for anything."
Riders head coach Chris Jones said that Reilly just seems to find a way in pressure situations.
"He keeps on playing," he said. "You have to knock him out. He is just one of those guys. As long as he is up on the canvas, he is going to keep fighting and find a way to beat you."
Jones felt his team let a winnable game get away from them.
"We were out-coached, out-executed and were the more undisciplined football team, and it reared its head again tonight," he said. "We know we are good enough to beat that football team, but they were disciplined enough to make the plays when they needed to and won the game."
The Eskimos (5-2) started off the scoring with a rare first-quarter touchdown, as a 61-yard passing play from Reilly to Derel Walker set up a three-yard TD run by CJ Gable.
Saskatchewan (3-4), which saw the return of starting quarterback Zach Collaros after missing the last four games with a concussion, tied the game up late in the opening quarter on its third attempt from the one-yard line, finally taken in by Marcus Thigpen.
Edmonton regained the lead on a 48-yard field goal by Sean Whyte, the only scoring play of the second to make it 10-7 at the half. The only other notable moment in the quarter was Maas taking out his frustration on a Gatorade cooler.
Saskatchewan took the lead early in the third on a 41-yard TD pass from Collaros to Duron Carter.
Edmonton came roaring back as Walker made a circus catch in double coverage for a 36-yard major.
"We know what type of player he is," Maas said of Walker. "He came out ready to play tonight, that’s for sure. When his number was called, he made the most of it."
The Riders looked to regain the lead late in the third quarter, but another third-down gamble from the one was stuffed just short by the Edmonton defence upon video review. Edmonton conceded a safety on the next series, to lead 17-16.
After having what looked to be a 97-yard TD pass to Duke Williams taken away upon another review, Eskimos receiver Nate Behar then fumbled, leading to a 33-yard Brett Lauther field goal.
The Eskimos put together a long drive late in the fourth, with Reilly taking it in from the one with 2:23 remaining, but the two-point convert missed.
Saskatchewan failed on a third-down gamble, allowing Edmonton to put the game away with a 46-yard Whyte field goal.
The Eskimos are in B.C. to face the Lions next Thursday, while the Riders have a bye week before hosting the Calgary Stampeders on Aug. 19.
Notes: Saskatchewan cornerback Nick Marshall came back from the six-game injured list with a finger injury, meaning that receiver Carter was able to return to the offence after subbing in on defence in Marshall’s absence. Carter was the Riders leading receiver last season with 73 catches for 1,043 yards and eight TDs.