Fred Stamps caught nine passes for 204 yards, including one for a 48-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, as the Edmonton Eskimos stayed alive in the hunt for a playoff spot with a 35-20 victory over the Hamilton Tiger Cats on Friday.
The Eskimos snapped a five-game losing skid to improve to 6-8 and move two points back of Saskatchewan, sitting third in the CFL’s West Division.
More important, they are two points ahead of the Ticats for a possible cross-over post-season spot through the East Division.
Hamilton fell to 5-9 on the season.
It wasn’t a good start for either quarterback as Edmonton’s Kerry Joseph was picked off on the second play of the game by Armando Murillo after his pass bounced off of receiver Stamps. However, Hamilton’s Henry Burris gave the ball back on the next play as his pass was tipped and then intercepted by Brandon Lang on the Tiger-Cats’ 40, leading to a 48-yard Grant Shaw field goal to start the scoring.
Hamilton got into scoring range with four minutes to play in the opening quarter on a 42-yard punt return by Chris Williams, but gave up the ball again on an interception by Chris Thompson on the Edmonton 13.
The score remained 3-0 Edmonton after the first quarter.
The Ticats knotted the game early in the second quarter on a 10-yard Luca Congi field goal, his 22nd consecutive three-pointer.
Congi added a 39-yard field goal with five minutes to play to go up 6-3.
Edmonton regained the lead after a long drive was capped off with a six-yard TD pass from Joseph to Marcus Henry to make it 10-6 at the half.
The Tabbies came back from the break with a strong drive, finished off with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Burris to Bakari Grant just two minutes into the third, to take a 13-10 lead.
Following a highlight reel 44-yard catch by Stamps through double coverage, the Esks inched back ahead as Hugh Charles rambled 15 yards into the end zone to put Edmonton up 17-13.
The Ticats caught a break with just under two minutes left in the third frame as Joe Burnett fumbled a punt on his own 14. Hamilton made good on the next play on a 14-yard pass from Burris to Andy Fantuz to move in front 20-17.
The see-saw battle continued to start the fourth as Edmonton regained the lead once again, this time striking for a seven-yard TD pass from Joseph to Matt Carter for a 24-20 advantage.
Edmonton added a field goal midway through the fourth.
The Eskimos broke the game open with six minutes left to play as Thompson picked off his second pass of the game deep in Edmonton territory and returned the ball to the Hamilton 51, setting up a big 48-yard TD pass to Stamps to put Edmonton up by 14 points.
The Tiger Cats got back into scoring territory, but turned over the ball on downs at the Edmonton 28 with three minutes to play.
Hamilton had one more chance but Burris fumbled on his own 34, with Shawn Lemon picking it up, allowing the Eskimos to run out the clock.
Both teams are at home next week as the Ticats host the B.C. Lions on Friday and the Eskimos welcome the Saskatchewan Roughriders next Saturday.
Notes: It was the second and final meeting of the season between the teams. Hamilton mauled the Eskimos 51-8 in mid-September... The Eskimos were without the services of linebacker J.C. Sherritt, the CFL’s leading tackler with 104. Sherritt was out with a knee injury... Edmonton defensive lineman Ted Laurent returned to the lineup after missing two games after re-aggravating his ankle in Hamilton three weeks ago... Eskimos starting quarterback Kerry Joseph celebrated his 39th birthday on Thursday... Hamilton QB Henry Burris, 37, completed 88 per cent of his passes for 326 yards and five touchdown passes in his previous game against Montreal, earning himself Offensive Player of the Week honours in the process. Burris completed 28 of his 32 pass attempts against the Alouettes... It was the first game that Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed also served as offensive co-ordinator as Marcus Crandell was relegated to the quarterbacks coach role earlier in the week... The Ticats came into the game leading the CFL in both points scored (401) and points allowed (409)... Hamilton defensive tackle Eddie Steele was taken away by ambulance with a badly injured leg in the second quarter.