October 10, 2016 - 4:21 PM
MONTREAL - Mike Reilly has joined some select company in Edmonton Eskimos history.
A 346-yard effort on 25 completions not only helped the Eskimos post a third straight win with a 40-20 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Monday afternoon, but it put Reilly past the 5,000 passing yards mark for the season.
Only Warren Moon (1983), Ricky Ray (2005 and 2008) and his current head coach Jason Maas (2004) have hit that milestone while wearing Eskimos green and gold.
"Our offence has been in development all year but we started from the beginning knowing we would have a dangerous passing attack, with our schemes combined with the weapons we have at the wide receiver position," Reilly said. "We knew we'd be able to throw the ball.
"The thing that I'm excited about more than the passing yards is what our running game has been able to do the last month or so. That makes things so much easier for us offensively. It takes a lot of pressure off our guys up front and it keeps the defence on their toes."
Reilly threw touchdown passes to Brandon Zylstra and Chris Getzlaf and ran one in himself for Edmonton (8-7), and John White ran in two TDs while gaining 145 yards on 19 carries against an unusually porous Montreal defence. Sean Whyte added two field goals.
The Eskimos' single-season passing record is 5,663 yards by Ray in 2008 and Reilly has three games left to try to break it. Edmonton is going into a bye week, so his pursuit starts Oct. 22 on the road against the B.C. Lions.
"It's pretty sweet for Mike," said Maas. "He's deserving of that honour, but it also says a lot about your offensive line and your offence as a unit.
"It's not just him throwing it. Mike is what makes it all run. It's a cool thing to be part of that club and obviously he has a chance to get something no other Eskimo has and that's 6,000 yards. That's pretty cool."
Brandon Rutley and Samuel Giguere had TDs for Montreal (4-10), now 1-1 since Jacques Chapdelaine replaced general manager Jim Popp as head coach two weeks ago. The Alouettes have not won back-to-back games this season, while 40 points is the most they've conceded.
Rakeem Cato completed 20 passes for 268 yards, but was not as sharp as he was while throwing four TD passes in a win against Toronto in Chapdelaine's debut as head coach.
"Not being able to sustain offensive series is a situation where, the way we're built right now, it's a lot of pressure on one young man (Cato)," said Chapdelaine. "If the young man cannot produce for different reasons, it's not like I can turn around to a Travis Lulay — you know, a veteran — or something like that.
"We've got young quarterbacks now. It would have been unfair to take Rakeem out to put another guy in. It's not like Rakeem had a bad day."
The Eskimos led 16-11 at the half despite surrendering a pair of fumbles and an interception.
A Whyte field goal and an Anthony Fera missed boot gave Edmonton a 3-1 first-quarter lead. Fera was injured on his attempt and briefly left punting duties to receiver Kyle Graves.
Montreal could not take advantage of an Adarius Bowman fumble that was recovered by Bear Woods at the Alouettes 44, but Troy Stoudemire dropped the ensuing punt and Daryl Townsend recovered at the Edmonton nine. Two plays later, Rutley ran in from the one only 46 seconds into the second quarter for a short-lived 8-3 Montreal lead.
Reilly then engineered two scoring drives, the first capped by a 29-yard TD pass to the wide open rookie Zylstra — his first CFL touchdown — at 3:19.
The second was an eight-play, 63 yard push in which a 16-yard Zylstra catch and run put the ball on the one. White ran it in at 11:23.
Montreal answered with a 38-yard Fera boot after Duron Carter's 36-yard catch. Kick holder Martin Bedard injured a foot on the play.
Cato was picked off by Cord Parks at the Montreal 43 on the first play from scrimmage of the second half. Four plays later, Reilly hit Getzlaf with an eight-yard TD strike.
On Edmonton's next possession, Reilly took it into the end zone himself from the three at 9:26. The Eskimos picked up their third TD of the third quarter when White ran in from the eight after a 59-yard catch by Bowman.
Montreal answered with Cato's 26-yard TD pass to Giguere 2:27 into the fourth quarter.
Edmonton conceded a safety in the game's dying seconds.
Notes: Edmonton fullback Mike Miller suffered a neck injury in the first quarter and did not return... Defensive end DeQuin Evans made his debut for Montreal, replacing injured Aaron Lavarias... The Eskimos scratched Shakir Bell and went with White at running back. Stoudemire replaced Kenzel Doe at kick returner.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016