|(Canadian Press/Peter Power)|
Reilly threw two touchdowns as the Eskimos hung on to defeat the Tiger-Cats 29-26 at Tim Hortons Field in front of 24,031 fans.
Edmonton had built up a 29-11 lead midway through the fourth quarter before the Ticats came crawling back. And that brought back the memories of the last time these two met _ back in July when Hamilton erased a 25-point second-half deficit to win 37-31.
"It was great to get the win,'' said Reilly.
"It's hard fought, for sure, and it was nice to have that confidence we can close out Hamilton when we have a lead at the end because, obviously, the last time we didn't do it.''
Reilly hit Derel Walker with TD strikes from 21 and seven yards and ran one in himself from one yard out. He finished the night with 18 completions on 31 attempts for 239 yards, the two touchdowns and no interceptions.
CJ Gable, Terrence Toliver and Jeremiah Masoli scored for Hamilton. Ticat quarterback Zach Collaros, back after missing two games with a concussion, completed 26-of-40 pass attempts for 273 yards, one TD and no interceptions.
Hamilton built a 10-0 lead in the first quarter before Edmonton slowly started to take over. The Eskimos took a 12-11 lead into halftime.
"We had some opportunities early in the game,'' said Reilly. "The first couple of drives we just missed a little bit. It just takes one drive to kind of spark it.
"Derel made a great adjustment on a bad shoulder ball on the one-yard line and made an even better play to get it in the end zone. Just kind of breaking the seal and punching that first touchdown in. I thought that was great for us.''
Edmonton (9-8) has a guaranteed a crossover playoff spot in the East Division, but still needs to win its final game against Toronto and have Winnipeg (10-6) lose both its games against Ottawa to stay in the West playoff picture.
Hamilton (7-10) remains second in the CFL East with a guaranteed playoff spot. With the loss, however, Ottawa (7-8-1) now needs to beat Winnipeg just once in its final two games to secure top spot in the division and a bye into the East Final.
Reilly said despite being guaranteed a playoff spot, it's important that the team continue to play well.
"I don't think you can win those (playoff) games unless you do the right things leading up to it, and learn from your mistakes and make sure you don't make those mistakes when it matters in the playoffs.''
Edmonton kicker Sean Whyte hit all three field goal attempts, from 17, 18 and 43 yards, but missed a convert.
Hamilton kicker Brett Maher was one-for-two in field-goal attempts, making a 40-yarder but missing from 28.
The team's "resilience'' as they rebounded from an early deficit and then held on for the win also wasn't lost on Edmonton head coach Jason Maas.
"We talked about it earlier in the week, about playing 60 minutes against this team in particular because they'll battle you 'til the end no matter how much you get up on 'em or how much they get up,'' he said. ``You've just got to play them 60 minutes to beat them.''
Edmonton's drive stalled to open the second half, but Whyte hit a 43-yarder to extend Edmonton's lead to 15-11. When Hamilton next went two-and-out, Troy Stoudermire returned Maher's 38-yard punt 33 yards and a 15-yard roughness penalty was tacked to give the Eskimos a short field to work with.
Edmonton marched the remaining 32 yards on four plays, ending with Reilly's one-yard TD plunge and the 22-11 lead.
Hamilton Defensive back Derrius Brooks was taken off by stretcher with a suspected head-and-neck injury and transported to hospital for observation after colliding with teammate Dominique Ellis one play before Reilly's touchdown. But Hamilton head coach Kent Austin said he was moving his arms and legs, and the Ticats later reported that he was being released from hospital.
Reilly then capped a 76-yard, seven-play drive with the seven-yard TD strike to Walker and the 29-11 lead early in the fourth.
"It wasn't one play. It's usually several plays that make you lose the football game,'' said Austin. "The second-and-longs, three or four second-and-20, second-and-25s. I don't have many play calls for those instances. That was the difference.''
Midway through the fourth, Hamilton showed life, driving 79 yards on eight plays, including a pass interference call that set up a first-and-goal at the one-yard line. It took three attempts, but Collaros found Toliver for the TD and then Kevin Elliott for the two-point convert and Hamilton pulled to 29-19 with 7:42 left.
With under two minutes to play, Hamilton's Junior Collins caught Edmonton's Grant Shaw's punt and immediately threw a lateral to Mike Jones, who ran it up the left side 48 yards to the Edmonton 31.
A pass interference call in the end zone made it first-and-goal from the one for Hamilton and Masoli ran it in to pull to 29-26 with 1:09 left in the game. But the onside kick didn't work and Edmonton got the ball at the Hamilton 40 and held on for the win.
There was more bad news for Hamilton. Already without top receiver Chad Owens and Luke Tasker due to injury, the Ticats also lost Andy Fantuz midway through the second quarter when his left knee buckled as he made a move. And starting corner Johnny Adams left earlier in the quarter to an apparent ankle injury.