HAMILTON — Marcel Bellefeuille saw a lot of similarities between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Eskimos.
“Both teams have gone through a number of lessons and opportunities and growth periods throughout the season,” the Ticats head coach said on Thursday. “I think we’re both, kind of, in the same boat.”
But it did not look like the two teams belonged in the same body of water on Friday night as the Eskimos beat the Ticats 38-23 in front of 22,654 fans at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Edmonton (7-4) moves into a first-place tie with Calgary (7-3) atop the West Division while Hamilton (5-6) remains two points back of second-place Montreal (6-4) in the East Division.
It has been a roller-coaster season for both Hamilton and Edmonton. The Eskimos started with five straight wins before dropping four of five. The Ticats started 0-2 before reeling off three straight wins and then alternating losses and victories the next five games.
Hamilton’s season appeared to hit a low point last week when they were throttled 43-13 by the Alouettes in Montreal. The players vowed to be better against Edmonton, but could not back up the talk.
Ticats quarterback Kevin Glenn was yanked early in the fourth quarter after completing 14 of 23 passes for 140 yards and one interception.
The Eskimos, meanwhile, used the same formula that helped them get off to a hot start — get the ball to receiver Fred Stamps and tailback Jerome Messam — to beat the Ticats.
Last week, Stamps recorded just two catches in his first game back from an abdominal injury. Against the Ticats, he looked much more comfortable making a 29-yard catch in the first quarter helping setup Edmonton’s first points — an 11-yard field goal by Derek Schiavone.
Stamps, the CFL’s leader in receiving yards before getting hurt in Week 6, had nine catches for 111 yards before the first half was done. He finished with 14 receptions for 130 yards.
Messam also recaptured his form from earlier this season running for a 29-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. He broke free for 43 yards early in the second quarter, which set the Eskimos up first-and-goal. Two plays later backup quarterback Kerry Joseph dove in from one yard out for a touchdown to put the visitors up 24-3.
Messam finished with 15 carries for 140 yards.
Edmonton’s defence also performed shutting down Ticats tailback Avon Cobourne, who ran six times for 28 yards and a garbage-time touchdown.
Cobourne called his five-carry, two-yard showing in Montreal last week the worst game he had ever played, but he was not much better against Edmonton.
Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt made a fumble-causing hit on Cobourne after the he made a catch over the middle in the first quarter. Jykine Bradley, who played in Hamilton for the last six seasons before being released in June, recovered the ball.
The Eskimos made the Ticats pay for the mistake as Calvin McCarty caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ricky Ray on the subsequent drive. McCarty also carried the ball five times for 61 yards.
Another former Ticat, defensive back Chris Thompson, also got the better of his former team by intercepting Glenn on the final play of the third quarter and returning it 53 yards to the Hamilton 15-yard line. The turnover led to a six-yard touchdown run by Messam.
Thompson played for Hamilton in 2008 and 2009 before being traded to Edmonton for receiver Maurice Mann last year.
Rookie defensive end Marcus Howard extended his sack streak to five games as the Eskimos got the better of a Hamilton offensive line playing without veteran centre Marwan Hage, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury. Edmonton recorded five quarterback takedowns.
Hamilton’s biggest play of the game was a 93-yard kickoff return touchdown by Chris Williams on the first play of the second half.
Hamilton will play Calgary next week in Moncton, N.B. while Edmonton returns home to face the Alouettes.