The Edmonton Elks received some help on Friday evening in Hamilton to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Tiger-Cats beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 18-14. Now the Elks need a win on Saturday night in Winnipeg over the two-time defending Grey Cup champions, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, to keep their slim post-season aspirations alive.
A win would pull the Elks to within two points of the Riders for fourth place in the West, which is the crossover position in the Eastern Division. The Tiger-Cats are now also in the hunt for third place in the East and have five wins, one win ahead of the Elks and one win behind the Riders.
The Elks path to the post-season is very muddled at best but head coach Chris Jones says all they can do now is win to help themselves.
“We’ve put ourselves in this situation and it’s never good to be in this situation where you’re kind of looking around at other things because people get going with two or three other things in their mind,” Jones said. “All we can control is what we can control and that’s to show up on play as good of a football as we possibly can. That’s what we plan on doing.”
The Elks lost 25-18 to the Montreal Alouettes last week, setting a new CFL record for consecutive losses at home with 15. The Elks have a chance with a win to finish 5-4 on the road the season and it’s a team that plays better away from home field. The Elks have won four of their last six road games and are one of five clubs in the CFL with .500 record on the road. The Elks average 23.3 points per game on the road compared to 17 points at home.
Even the Elks starting quarterback Taylor Cornelius has enjoyed more success on the road with three wins and thrown seven touchdown passes to just two interceptions. At home, Cornelius has throws just two touchdown passes and has been intercepted six times. Cornelius overall has factored greatly in the Elks scoring over the last seven games, he’s been involved in 14 of their last 16 touchdowns with seven touchdown passes and seven rushing touchdowns.
Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius on having a more consistent lineup over the last few games
The Elks were happy to have receiver Kenny Lawler back in their lineup last week against the Alouettes but his return was short-lived. After returning from a three-game absence because of an ankle injury, Lawler injured his collarbone making a spectacular 33-yard catch late in the second quarter. Lawler underwent surgery on Sunday and will be out for the remainder of the season. Lawler will finish the season with 894 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 12 games.
With Lawler out that will give an opportunity for new receiver, Lucky Jackson who will start in his first-ever CFL game. Jackson was in the training camp of the Bombers this season, the product of Western Kentucky was one of the best receivers in school history. In 51 games, Jackson recorded 2,680 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Receiver Vincent Forbes-Mombleau has been placed on this one-game injured list after suffering a shoulder injury during practice on Tuesday. Chris Osei-Kusi will move back into the starting lineup on offence. Linebacker Jordan Reaves returns to the active roster to play on special teams.
The following are the projected offensive and defensive starters for the Elks:
Quarterback: Taylor Cornelius
Running back: Kevin Brown (Fullback: Tanner Green)
Offensive line: Martez Ivey, David Foucault, Mark Korte, Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, Andrew Garnett
Receivers: Dillon Mitchell, Derel Walker, Jalin Marshall, Lucky Jackson, Chris Osei-Kusi
Defensive line: Avery Ellis, J-Min Pelley, Jake Ceresna, Matt Thomas
Linebackers: Adam Konar, Tre Watson, Enock Makanzo
Defensive backs: Ed Gainey, Treston Decound, Scott Hutter, Jeff Richards, Jamie Harry
You can hear live coverage of the Elks and Bombers on 630 CHED starting with Countdown to Kickoff with Brenden Escott at 3:30 p.m. The opening kickoff from IG Field in Winnipeg will be at 5 p.m. with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell, with analysis by former Edmonton Football Team offensive lineman and two-time Grey Cup champion Blake Dermott.
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