Eskimos attack Redblacks by land, air and C.J. Gable

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Trevor Harris, left, hands off to running back C.J. Gable during CFL action against the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg on Thursday, June 27, 2019. Kevin King / Postmedia, file

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The Ottawa Redblacks faced an assault on three fronts Friday: By land, air and C.J. Gable.

And the Edmonton Eskimos running back was named one of three Canadian Football League players of the week for his efforts in the 16-12 victory over the visitors, rushing for 116 yards and two touchdowns on only 18 carries, while adding 34 more yards on four catches.

He also scored his first two rushing touchdowns of the season to go along with a previous touchdown reception, while he bumped his way into the top three in league rushing with 591 yards on 113 carries for a 5.2-yard average.

“That’s the line, man,” Gable said. “They’re blocking for me, I’m just reading the holes and running hard.

“Finally, I got in there. It took a while, but I got it.”

It was his third triple-digit ground game of the season and fourth for the Eskimos, who had Shaq Cooper start in Gable’s place two weeks ago in a shutout win over the Toronto Argonauts on the way to 128 rushing yards.

But Friday marked a return to form that saw Gable open the season with rushing performances of 154 yards and 111 yards, before seeing his production steadily taper down to 82, 68, 33 and 27 yards, until his bounce back against the Redblacks.

“Some games you’re not going to have your best,” said Gable, who is coming off a career year that saw him hit 1,000 rushing yards for the first time. “I just had to stay positive and keep going and got to know that it’s going to happen one day, so I’ve just got to be ready.”

Gable scored Edmonton’s first opening-possession touchdown of the season when he broke away for a 28-yard run to the end zone.

“It was big, I jumped it and pressed it to the right and it was wide open,” said Gable, who had just 35 yards in the first half before getting into gear over the second. “I just had to make sure that I stayed with my reads and didn’t get frustrated in the first half.

“I just believe in the line and know the hole’s going to open up, so I’ve just got to keep rushing hard.”

His second end-zone visit came from two yards out with the winning touchdown after former Redblacks receiver Greg Ellingson caught an 11-yard pass and fought for 14 more to reach the doorstep in the fourth quarter, marking the only points of the second half.

But it wasn’t all textbook Friday for Gable, of course, as he got stuffed for a three-yard loss on a handoff at Ottawa’s 25 yard-line facing third-and-one.

But short-yardage pickups were tough to come by for an Eskimos offence that turned the ball over three more times on third down, including a quarterback keeper on Ottawa’s one yard-line.

And in a one-score game, the tough yards turned out to be just as important as the big pickups for Gable in the end.

“A healthy C.J. is a dangerous weapon and I think he proved it (Friday),” said Eskimos left tackle Tommie Draheim. “That’s all it was, he got those legs churning, moved the pile and always fell forward.

“We fought for it, we definitely didn’t make it easy on ourselves. We definitely did some things that shot ourselves in the foot on all those short-yardage situations. We could have had 30, 40 points on those guys but we didn’t execute and they made us pay for it.”

But nothing can take away the from a ground game that is back to bolstering what was already the league’s top aerial attack.

“C.J. had a tremendous game,” head coach Jason Maas said. “The touchdown at the beginning set the tone for it, but in the second half we really got after them. We had a lot of injuries on that side of the ball.

“Gibby (run game co-ordinator Mike Gibson) did a tremendous job calling the runs. He just kept staying in my ear about which runs were good and we just kept calling them, and the O-line and C.J. and the receivers — everyone blocking — it was a concerted effort.”

And, of course, Gable is happy sharing his player of the week award, and not just with his teammates on offence, either.

“Whatever it takes for us to win, I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m always willing to get the ball and keep our offence out there and drain the clock down and let our defence rest, because if they get some rest, they put in that work and they can stop any offence out there.”

Eskimos set bar high with previous shutout over Argonauts

Realistically, the Edmonton Eskimos can’t be expecting to shut out the Toronto Argonauts again.

Their first meeting of the season resulted in a 26-0 Eskimos win at Commonwealth Stadium, but chances are an Argos squad currently residing in the basement of the East Division will manage to find their way onto the scoreboard in some way, shape or form throughout Friday’s rematch at BMO Field (5:30 p.m., TSN, 630 CHED).

And while they would certainly be happy with another blanking, the Eskimos defence isn’t setting the bar quite that high — or low, in this case — for themselves.

“Anytime you step out there, you just want to put your best foot forward and how the outcome may be, you never know,” said Eskimos middle linebacker Larry Dean, whose previous shutout came on Nov. 3, 2017, in a 33-0 win over the Montreal Alouettes back when he played with a Hamilton Tiger-Cats defence that was also co-ordinated by Phillip Lolley. “It’s rare air up there, man. Especially in an offence-heavy league.”

Then again, if anyone can pull off a shutout of a season series against an opponent, it might very well be an Eskimos team that leads the league in just about every defensive category that matters.

Email: gmoddejonge@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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