September 30, 2016 - 10:24 PM
WINNIPEG - John White didn't think he'd be busy on Friday night.
That all changed when the Edmonton Eskimos tailback got his starting job back after Shakir Bell was injured late in Wednesday's practice.
White stepped in and made the most of the opportunity, rushing 19 times for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Edmonton's 40-26 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Friday.
He also caught seven passes for 64 yards and ran in a two-point convert after a Derel Walker touchdown reception.
"I was dealing with a little adversity this week and I wasn't sure if I was going to play," White said outside an Edmonton locker-room that was loud with cheers.
"The day before we had to leave, I was up. I just had to show everybody that I'm a professional. At the last minute, anything can happen and you've got to make sure you know what you're doing and you're prepared."
The second straight victory evened Edmonton's record at 7-7 and gave the CFL club the three-game season series (2-1) against Winnipeg (8-6), which dropped its second in a row.
Edmonton head coach Jason Maas praised White.
"I'm very proud of John," Maas said. "I've probably never been more proud of a player since I've been coaching in five years.
"To step up in short notice with all the pressure that I'm sure he put on himself, to take over that load. He did an outstanding job tonight — protection, running the ball, catching the ball in the backfield. He was tremendous tonight."
Maas said Bell, who had replaced an injured White the two previous games, wasn't hurt bad in practice and should be available in the "near future."
The coach isn't sure who'll get the nod to start in the next game Oct. 10 in Montreal, although he pointed out he's always viewed both White and Bell as starting tailbacks even though only one can play.
"I wish we could both be out there. It would be double trouble," White said with a grin. "That's my brother, Shak."
Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly completed 32-of-38 pass attempts for 355 yards with no interceptions and a pair of touchdowns to Adarius Bowman and Walker, who are first and second respectively in the CFL in receiving yardage.
Bowman caught a 15-yard TD pass and Walker put up a 61-yard catch-and-run. Walker had 10 catches for 120 yards and Bowman 10 grabs for 97 yards.
Kicker Sean Whyte was good on three field goals from 28, 20 and 10 yards, plus three converts. The Esks added two points when Winnipeg conceded a safety.
Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols was 26-of-41 passing for 330 yards, two TDs and one interception.
Winnipeg kicker Justin Medlock connected on four field goals from 40, 23, 38 and 54 yards, a convert and added a single. A two-point convert attempt was unsuccessful.
Weston Dressler and Clarence Denmark had TD catches in front of a home crowd of 24,706 at Investors Group Field.
A key stat in the loss was Winnipeg's 15 penalties for 166 yards, compared to Edmonton's seven for 80 yards.
Bombers defensive back Kevin Fogg had a punt return TD called back because of a penalty — the fourth time that's happened to him this season.
"The penalties, that's what shot ourselves in the foot," Bombers defensive back Maurice Leggett said. "We can't do that against a great team."
Nichols was pleased the Bombers started off fast with Dressler's TD, but their consistency dropped and penalties hurt.
They will rebound, he vowed.
"I think we're still a game ahead of Edmonton in the West (Division) so, I mean, the sky's not following," Nichols said.
"We lost to a good football team, a team that outplayed us tonight. We'll get ready for a good B.C. team, a team that is barely ahead of us in the standings."
The game was tied 7-7 after the first quarter, but Edmonton went into halftime with a 24-10 lead.
Winnipeg got to 29-23 midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn't pull off a late comeback for the second straight game.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016