Aaron Grymes and Otha Foster returned interceptions for touchdowns as the Edmonton Eskimos defence took advantage of backup rookie quarterback Jeff Mathews in a 25-18 come-from-behind win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday afternoon.
Tied 18-18 with less than two minutes left, Jacory Harris, Hamilton's third-string quarterback, fumbled on the Ticat 53 and it was recovered by Edmonton's Don Oramasionwu. Seven plays later, Kendial Lawrence ran in a four-yard TD – Edmonton's first offensive touchdown – and the Eskimos (8-4) took their first lead of the game with 43 seconds left.
Hamilton's Zach Collaros, the league's leading passer, was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter with a suspected knee injury after being hit from behind during a scramble by Edmonton lineman Mathieu Boulay. Collaros was replaced by Mathews, who is usually used on third downs.
Mathews had a fumble and three costly interceptions – one returned 68 yards for a touchdown by Grymes to tie the game at 18-18 midway through the fourth. Foster returned another 45 yards for a TD while Marcell Young made an interception in the end zone after the Ticats had a first-and-goal at the nine-yard line.
Mathews was replaced by Harris after his second pick-six and less than nine minutes left in the game.
Terrence Toliver scored a touchdown for Hamilton (8-4). Lawrence, Foster and Grymes scored for the Esks.
Hamilton kicker Justin Medlock was good on all three field-goal attempts, from 10, 42 and 39 yards. Edmonton kicker Sean Whyte hit from 29 yards out. Both kickers conceded safeties.
The Eskimos were enjoying their second-straight full game with starting quarterback Mike Reilly after he spent the summer recovering from a knee injury. He was intercepted once and didn't throw a touchdown.
Collaros was good on 7-of-10 pass attempts for 90 yards and one touchdown before he left the game.
Hamilton was up 13-5 heading into halftime on a 10-yard TD strike from Collaros to Toliver in the first quarter and two field goals, from 10 and 42 yards out, by Medlock. Edmonton's scoring in the first came on a conceded safety and a 29-yard field goal by Whyte, as Edmonton couldn't get past midfield until the second quarter.
In the third, Whyte conceded a safety midway through the quarter to give Hamilton a 15-5 lead.
But Edmonton started a comeback with Foster's interception. Edmonton failed on its two-point conversion attempt and the score was 15-11.
Mathews engineered a 39-yard drive on his return to the field, resulting in Medlock's 32-yard field goal and a 18-11 Hamilton lead.
The Ticats were moving the ball and had first-and-goal at the nine to begin the fourth when Mathews attempted a TD pass to Luke Tasker that was instead nabbed by Young. But on Edmonton's following possession, Emanuel Davis intercepted Reilly to get the ball back for Hamilton on the Edmonton 39.
Mathews threw his next pick-six midway through the fourth when Grymes had nothing but daylight straight to the endzone and the game was tied at 18.