On Saturday, Saturday, June 18th, 2022 the Edmonton Elks hosted the Saskatchewan Roughriders for their 2022 home opener.
There was a lot riding for the Edmonton Elks in trying to erase the embarrassing loss last week in week 1 while on the road in Vancouver. It was a game in which they were totally outclassed in a crushing 59-15 defeat to hands of the BC Lions.
Edmonton suffered a last-second blow to their starting defense in which DT Jake Ceresna was injured during practice just prior to kickoff. He was then replaced by Ese Mrabure.
For Edmonton, they wanted to hit the ground running to avoid extending their current home losing streak of 0-7 at home for the whole 2021 season. Furthermore, QB Nick Arbuckle wanted to display more of a better showing of last week’s game in which he completed 20 of 29 passes for 254 yards, 0 TD passes, and 3 interceptions.
Edmonton’s D Line was very much pushed around in the 1st quarter in which Saskatchewan would win the battles in the trenches in getting the most against Edmonton’s D Line in the running game. However, it was bend but don’t break style of defense that seemed to be displayed. The Edmonton secondary came up in big moments in stalling Saskatchewan’s first 2 drives resulting only in a 50-yard field goal by Brett Lauther at the 11:25 mark of the 1st quarter.
QB Sacks by Thomas Costigan and Nafees Lyon on the last Saskatchewan offensive drive in the 1st Quarter were huge for Edmonton in which they did a pretty good job on keeping the Saskatchewan offense in check.
Unfortunately for Edmonton, they ended the 1st quarter with 0 first downs, while Saskatchewan had 7 1st downs to conclude the 1st quarter.
End of 1st Quarter. Saskatchewan 3 Edmonton 0.
The opening drive resulted in a Nick Arbuckle interception at the hands of Derrick Moncrief at the 1:56 mark in the quarter. It was a bad weak throw into the intended target towards Shai Ross.
On their 2nd offensive series, Nick Arbuckle improved with his passing in connecting with Kenny Lawler for 17 yards, along with another to Mike Jones for an additional 7 yards. On a 2nd and 3rd down play at the Saskatchewan 43-yard line, Nick Arbuckle went deep with Kenny Lawler almost completing the catch at the Saskatchewan 4-yard line. Then luck would be on Edmonton’s side in finally catching a much-needed break. Sergio Castillo came in to attempt a 54-yard field goal. The initial result was negative in which the kick went wide left. Saskatchewan’s 2022 7th overall pick Samuel Emilus returned the missed field goal running out of the endzone. A forced fumble by Tobi Antigha was then recovered by Matt Thomas at the Saskatchewan 23-yard line. Finally, a break for the offense to continue another drive with a gift handed to them on a great special teams play. The initial play then resulted in an 8-yard sack by Charleston Hughes. However, this was waived off as there was a defensive offside penalty resulting in Edmonton now with a 1st and 5 play. This was then capped off with an unbelievable catch by Kenny Lawler who caught a ball at the back of the end zone leaning backward. Edmonton finally had a lead for the 1st time this season going up 7-6 after the Sergio Castillo PAT.
On the ensuing Saskatchewan offensive drive, Cody Fajardo capped off a 6-play, 84-yard drive with a 2-yard run by RB Jamal Morrow. Saskatchewan then attempted a 2-point conversion in which LB Adam Konar came up big with an 8-yard sack.
For Edmonton, the 2nd Quarter was much better on both sides of the ball. The Edmonton offensive line looked a lot more polished in giving Nick Arbuckle much-needed time in executing plays. Moreover, Nick Arbuckle looked a lot more improved in engineering the offense even though they only had 66 yards of total offense considering no 1st downs in the 1st Quarter. There were a few dropped passes by Mike Jones, Caleb Holley, and Shai Ross at key moments in the 1st half which could have extended some offensive drives for Edmonton. The Edmonton defense did a lot of good things all things considering that they were on the field for quite some time at 20:41 since the offense was not able to sustain long drives in the 1st Quarter. The offense in the 1st half only had a time of possession of just 9:19 in which their 4 1st downs came entirely in the 2nd quarter.
End of 2nd Quarter. Saskatchewan 12 Edmonton 7.
Edmonton began the 3rd quarter with a 9-play drive resulting in a 92-yards and capped off by a Sergio Castillo field goal. This put Edmonton in a good spot in which now Saskatchewan had a 12-10 lead over Edmonton.
The Edmonton defense was at its best during the duration of the game mainly in the 3rd quarter. Saskatchewan was unable to add to its lead in which they had only 2 offensive series. The first was a 5-play series for only a 1st down with a total of just 18 yards gained. This then lead to a Saskatchewan punt.
For the next Edmonton offensive series, Edmonton struck with a 5-play 45-yard drive setting up a 45-yard Sergio Castillo field goal attempt. Bad luck would be on Edmonton’s side in which a botched snap and hold result in an incomplete pass by Sergio Castillo in a desperate attempt to gain any positive yards.
The Edmonton defense flexed its muscles again in a key Saskatchewan drive which resulted in a 2 and out series.
One the next Edmonton offensive possession, Edmonton countered on a huge play with a 66-yard pass from Nick Arbuckle to Emmanuel Arceneaux. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan would answer the call-in back-to-back sacks led by DL Anthony Lanier and LB Darnell Sankey respectively. This then ended with a Sergio Castillio 30-yard field goal resulting in a 13-12 Edmonton lead.
Edmonton’s offense was now with a respectable 13 1st downs, 242 passing yards, followed by only 30 rushing yards, with a total net offense of 261 yards at the end of the 3rd quarter.
End of 3rd Quarter. Saskatchewan 12 Edmonton 13.
In the 4th quarter, Saskatchewan began an offensive production with a combination of clock management led by Cody Fajardo, along with the running game coming into effect in wearing down the Edmonton’s run defense. Jamal Morrow continued to pound the ball on the Edmonton run defense. Edmonton was unable to find a solution to halting the Saskatchewan running attack.
A Brett Lauther 41-yard field goal put Saskatchewan up 15-13 with 10:10 left in the 4th quarter.
Edmonton then answered the call on their next drive resulting in a Sergio Castillo 37-yard field goal with 7:11 left in the 4th quarter and regaining a 16-15 lead over Saskatchewan.
On the next Saskatchewan offensive possession, Cody Fajardo capped off a 5-play, 42-yard drive resulting in a toss to Michell Picton. This was then followed up with a successful 2-point conversion giving Saskatchewan a 23-16 lead.
The Edmonton offense began to sputter as it did in the opening quarter gaining very little momentum for the duration of the game.
Another 21-yard field goal by Brett Lauther would be added with 1:07 left in the game resulting in the last scoring play of the game.
Final score. Saskatchewan 26 Edmonton 16
It was a day where Edmonton did finally show some signs of improvement considering the blowout last week. Unfortunately for Edmonton, they now extend their current home-losing streak to 8 games. It will be challenging this year as a whole, as Edmonton is one of the youngest teams in the league with very few on their current roster that has played together for more than 2 years.
The offense has got to establish more of a running game to balance the offense. Edmonton cannot go through the majority of the season where the offensive burden will be solely on Nick Arbuckle’s shoulders. They have to find a way to incorporate more of James Wilder Jr in the offense, especially in the running game.
Unfortunately for Edmonton, their next game will be on Saturday, June 25th, 2022 against their arch-rivals vs. the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium. Edmonton will have to bite, scratch, and claw to try and dethrone the Calgary Stampeders. The Battle of Alberta for 2022 begins now.
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