LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @BC Lions, August 9, 7p (10p ET, 4a CET)

VANCOUVER — It’s an all-West matchup as the Edmonton Eskimos take on the BC Lions to kick off Week 9 of the CFL season.

The Esks are feeling fine riding a three-game win streak heading into their bout with the Leos at BC Place.

Edmonton came out on top of a back-and-forth tilt with the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week, capturing a 26-19 victory at Commonwealth Stadium. Quarterback Mike Reilly threw for 257 yards, one touchdown pass, and ran into the end zone for the go-ahead major with less than three minutes to go.

CFL.ca has unprecedented coverage of Thursday Night Football presented by The Brick, including a 30-minute live show CFL Game Time at 9:00 p.m. ET, as the Lions host the Esks at BC Place.

Reilly’s go-to target of the night was Derel Walker, who hauled in six catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. Running back C.J. Gable also added to the offence, rushing for 81 yards and a major on 14 carries.

Despite the win, Reilly was critical of his team’s performance after the game.

“We found a way to win and made the plays when they needed to be made,” Reilly told Esks.com. “You’re really not going to hear me complain about that. It wasn’t one of our better games offensively. I thought our defence played great. Offensively we were just a little bit out of sync.”

The Esks (5-2) will need to keep on winning if they hope to keep pace with the undefeated Calgary Stampeders (7-0). While the Esks are happy with their three-game winning streak, they are still far from satisfied.

“It’s positive [the locker room], for sure, but it’s also not content,” said Reilly. “We know we’ve got a long way to go. We know there have been mistakes in all three of those games…it’s a process every week but the guys feel good and feel confident, which is what you want. But again, not overly confident because we know we haven’t reached our peak, even by a long shot.”

While the Lions (2-4) are not off to the most promising start and currently sit last in the West, the Esks says that they can’t take their divisional opponents lightly. BC is still a threat, according to Head Coach Jason Maas, especially with starting pivot Travis Lulay at the helm of the offence.

“I think he just turns everybody’s game up,” said Maas. “That’s what makes Travis [Lulay] dangerous. He’s a competitor. He’s won a lot of games. He’s a Grey Cup winner. All those things. He’s a tremendous player. He definitely makes every team better that he’d be on.”

The Lions turned to Lulay after starter Jonathon Jennings struggled out of the gate, and are looking to the 34-year-old to help turn their slow start to the season around.

While Lulay looked impressive in his first game of the season, leading the Lions to a victory and .500 record, the Lions have been in a slump ever since.

BC has dropped its past two games, most recently a 27-18 loss at the hands of the league-leading Stamps. The Lions got behind early, trailing by 14 at the half, and never recovered.

Lulay completed 25-of-39 passes in the loss, throwing for 281 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Bryan Burnham was on the receiving end of the lone passing major, and finished the game with a team-high 76 yards.

“It’s a short week,” Lulay told BCLions.com after the game. “We know that. We can’t wallow in this loss. The big message to the team, to the offence, is you can live with it when a team just beats you. If you play a whole game and they out-execute you, so be it. But when you have opportunities, when you mess up, when you have penalties, little missed assignments, obviously we can cut that stuff out.”

Running back Jeremiah Johnson will be watching the game from the sidelines after re-aggravating an ankle injury in the Lions loss to the Stamps. Travon Van will line up as the starter on Thursday.

The Lions’ defence is aware that they will have to keep a dynamic Reilly contained if they hope to pick up a win. The Esks are averaging a league-best 342 yards per game on offence. Meanwhile, the Lions defence is giving up 418 yards per game, second-worst to only the Montreal Alouettes.

Defensive back Otha Foster III says he is looking forward to the challenge.

“I love competition and Mike [Reilly] is one of the best, if not, the best quarterback in this league,” said Foster. “Playing against him you know you’re going to get a true competitor. Going out there and competing against the best is one of the things I love to do.”

Crunchin’ Numbers:

2 – Interceptions thrown by Travis Lulay this season, the least by any CFL quarterback, although he has played fewer games than most starting QBs. Lulay will make his fourth straight start on Thursday night.

4 –Straight games the Esks have beaten the Lions. BC’s last win at home over Edmonton came on Oct. 22, 2016.

14 – League-leading passing touchdowns by Mike Reilly. The 33-year-old has thrown 131 touchdown passes and 72 interceptions in his career, a ratio of 1.82 to 1.

108 – Straight games that Emmanuel Arceneaux has at least one catch.

The Lions are trying to stop the bleeding.

BC is attempting to avoid dropping to 2-5 for the first time since 2011, which would put them three full games out of third place in the West.

After seven games last year, BC had started off 5-2 and since then has gone just 4-13. The only team worse during that span is the Montreal Alouettes.

While getting a quick start will be essential for the Lions to come out with a win on Thursday night, it’s pivotal for the team to never count the Eskimos out of the game.

The Esks have developed a reputation this season for battling from behind. They lead the CFL with three wins when trailing after the first quarter, and have been behind at some point during the game in all five of their victories of 2018.

– With files from Esks.com/BCLions.com.

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LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @BC Lions, August 9, 7p (10p ET, 4a CET)

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