Reilly, Edmonton Eskimos Win Grey Cup Over Ottawa

Reilly was selected the most valuable player of the game

By Dillon Tabish
Mike Reilly. Courtesy Edmonton Eskimos – Dale MacMillan

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Jordan Lynch scored on a 1-yard sneak with 3:22 left and the Edmonton Eskimos rallied to beat the Ottawa Redblacks 26-20 on Sunday night for their 14th Grey Cup title.

Lynch, the former Northern Illinois star in his rookie season with Eskimos, scored on a third-down play in a 20-degree chill. Starting quarterback Mike Reilly then threw a 2-point conversion pass to Akeem Shavers.

Reilly, a 2003 Flathead High School graduate, was selected the most valuable player of the game. The former Central Washington quarterback was 21 of 35 for 269 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He also ran for 66 yards on 10 carries.

“It’s certainly special,” Reilly said. “It’s something that I’ll never take for granted. It’s memories that I’m happy I’ll have for the rest of my life.”

The Eskimos won the Canadian Football League title for the first time since 2005. They won their final 10 games, all after Reilly returned as the starter after injuring a knee in the season-opening loss to Toronto.

The Redblacks advanced to the championship game in their second season in the league. The city’s last CFL championship came in 1976 with the former Rough Riders.

“It’s not anger, it’s disappointment,” Ottawa coach Rick Campbell said. “This is definitely not a business to be in if you don’t like highs and lows. That’s part of what you sign up for when you’re in this business. But obviously heartbroken, disappointed, all those things. I’m so proud of those guys and so proud to coach them. And that’s what makes it so disappointing to get this far and not get it done.”

Edmonton’s winning five-play, 78-drive was aided by Eskimos coach Chris Jones’ successful challenge of an incompletion that was changed to pass interference against Ottawa’s Brandon Sermons. That gave the Eskimos the ball at the Redblacks 10.

“I had to call a timeout, and I said, ‘Look at this because it’s too big a situation, and if it is (pass interference) then we need to throw a flag,'” Jones said. “That’s how it transpired.”

Ottawa took a 13-0 lead halfway through the first quarter on Henry Burris’ 3-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Lavoie and a 7-yarder to Earnest Jackson.

The Eskimos cut it to 13-10 late in the quarter on Reilly’s 23-yard pass to Adarius Bowman. Edmonton took a 17-16 lead on Reilly’s 2-yard pass to Shavers with 12 seconds left in the half.

Ottawa regained the lead in the third on Chris Milo’s 33-yard field goal. Edmonton punter Grant Shaw had a 69-yard single in the third, and Milo countered with a 72-yarder in the fourth to make it 20-18.

The 40-year-old Burris was 22 of 29 for 220 yards.

“We had opportunities to turn the tide and we just didn’t make the plays, whether it was me missing a throw or making a play or something,” Burris said. “They found ways to make plays and to get us off the field … But we had ample opportunities to go down and put this game out of reach.