CFL: Edmonton Eskimos Air Raid too much for BC Lions

CFL.CA STAFF
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Eskimos weathered a third-quarter comeback attempt before pulling away to a 37-26 victory over the BC Lions on Friday Night Football.

Mike Reilly completed 24 of 32 passes for 412 yards in the win for Edmonton (5-0), while Travis Lulay went 22-for-26 for 259 yards in the loss for BC (4-2).

With star Eskimo receiver Adarius Bowman unavailable due to injury, the trio of Vidal Hazelton, Brandon Zylstra and Duke Williams all broke the 100-yard mark en route to a whopping 370 yards and two touchdowns as a unit.

Odell Willis and Kenny Ladler put in standout performances on the defensive side of the ball for the Esks; Willis registered four tackles and a pair of sacks, while Ladler recorded a game-high 10 tackles and forced a fumble.

The Esks came out of the gate flying, as Reilly hit Duke Williams on a 65-yard bomb on the first play from scrimmage. After throwing an incompletion, Reilly then found Brandon Zylstra in the end zone on a 14-yard effort. Sean Whyte’s convert gave the hosts an early 7-0 lead.

Edmonton and BC then traded field goals, with Whyte splitting the uprights from 44 yards and BC kicker Ty Long cancelling it out with a 49-yard effort.

Esks running back Travon Van left the game late in the first quarter after suffering an upper-body injury on a blocking assignment; with John White and Kendial Lawrence already on the six-game injured list, Edmonton was forced to use fullback Calvin McCarty for rushing duties.

The hosts regained momentum on the first few plays of the second quarter, as defensive back Arjen Colquhoun picked off Lulay on the Edmonton 1-yard line. One play later, Reilly connected with Vidal Hazelton for a career-long 108-yard touchdown pass.

The pass was Edmonton’s longest in franchise history, and the longest in the CFL since 2002.

After throwing a second interception, Travis Lulay settled down to march the Lions into the red zone and then found Manny Arceneaux for a 17-yard major. Long’s convert made it 17-10 Esks.

Whyte rounded out first-half scoring with a late 41-yard field goal to send Edmonton to the locker room leading 20-10.

Early in the third quarter, a Long field goal from 43 yards made it a one-score game, and Lulay and co. promptly tied the ballgame on a five-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Johnson.

Whyte restored Edmonton’s lead on the very next possession via a 19-yard chip shot, but came off limping.

The Esks extended their lead on a one-yard Reilly sneak which capped a drive that was prolonged by a controversial pass-interference penalty on BC’s Loucheiz Purifoy; with Whyte injured, Edmonton went for and missed a two-point convert.

A DEPLETED LIONS SECONDARY DIDN’T HAVE AN ANSWER FOR BRANDON ZYLSTRA AND THE EDMONTON PASSING GAME. (THE CANADIAN PRESS PHOTO)

Reilly and McCarty then combined to eat up seven minutes of clock en route to a late QB-sneak touchdown for the former. The ensuing Reilly-to-Hazelton two-point convert was merely icing on the cake for all green-and-gold parties involved.

A final-minute Lulay touchdown run from two yards out served only as consolation for the defeated Lions, who then missed the convert.

Top defensive performers for BC in the defeat were Chandler Fenner, who registered a team-high eight tackles, and Anthony Jackson, who recorded seven tackles and an interception.

Despite their vastly different yardage, Reilly and Lulay both threw a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.

Injuries were a key theme on the evening, with BC losing T.J. Lee and the Eskimos suffering injuries to Van, Whyte and Simeon Rottier.

Week 7 will see Edmonton remain at home to host Hamilton (0-4) on Fri. Aug. 24, while BC will return to the west coast to entertain Saskatchewan (1-3) on Sat. Aug. 25.

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