B.C. Lions overpower Edmonton Eskimos, clinch CFL playoff berth

Eskimos unable to contain aggressive Lions' defence

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Chris Rainey had a 95-yard kick return touchdown in Lions' playoff clinching victory. (Photo By Derek Cain / ISN)

Story by Alex Rodgerson/ISN

DeVier Posey had three touchdowns and Travis Lulay threw for 251 yards as the B.C. Lions topped the Edmonton Eskimos by a final of 42-32 on Friday night at B.C. Place. With the victory the Lions officially clinch a berth in the 2018 CFL playoffs, and will play postseason football regardless of the results of their last two games. For Edmonton, Friday’s loss now puts them completely out of the playoff picture with just two weeks to go in the CFL regular season.

On the second play of the Lions’ very first drive, Travis Lulay would air it out to Bryan Burnham, who would make the grab and go all the way to the end zone. However, a holding penalty would negate the play and the Lions would end up with nothing on the drive.

After the Eskimos would be forced to punt on their next possession, the B.C. punt return would be fumbled and recovered by Corey Jones of the Eskimos. This would give Edmonton the ball back with excellent field position. B.C.’s defence would manage to hold the Eskimos at the Lions’ forty-seven yard-line, forcing them to settle for the field goal. Edmonton would lead 3-0 with 8:36 remaining in the first quarter.

A great kick return would be negated by another Lions’ flag, which would force them all the way back to their own fifteen yard line. On second down, former Lion Alex Bazzie would track down Lulay in the back-field and sack him, forcing the Lions to take a safety and go down 5-0.

With Edmonton getting the ball back, Eskimos’ QB Mike Reilly would then air it out forty-seven yards to bring Edmonton back into the red zone. Reilly would elect to go with the QB sneak to get it over the line, and on his second try he would do so. On the play Reilly would tie Kerry Joseph with his thirteenth TD of the season, moving him to just one away from Doug Flutie for the most touchdowns by a QB in single-season history. Edmonton would lead 12-0 in the first quarter.

On the ensuing kick-off Lions’ Chris Rainey would snap, returning the kick-off ninety-five yards for the touchdown and bringing the Lions right back into the game. This would be the first time B.C. has returned a kick-off for a TD since September 2015, over three years ago.

The early back-and-forth action would continue on the first play of the Eskimos very next drive, with B.C.’s Anthony Thompson recovering an unforced fumble at the Eskimos twenty-five yard line. After Tyrell Sutton would rumble to the Edmonton five-yard line, Travis Lulay would then spot Bryan Burnham in the end zone to bring the Lions ahead 14-12 as the quarter would come to an end.

B.C. Corner back Winston Rose would foil the Eskimos on their first drive of the second quarter, making a tackle on first down before recording a pass knockdown on down two and forcing Edmonton to punt. However, on the next Edmonton possession, Mike Reilly would put together his teams first solid drive down field. In search of 5,000 passing yards on the season for the second straight year, Reilly would march the Eskimos down field amidst a nine-play drive, before eventually connecting with Bryant Mitchell for the twenty-three yard TD reception. After the extra point Edmonton would be back on top 19-14.

On the Lions’ next drive RB Tyrell Sutton would continue his strong first half for B.C., busting up the gut thirty-one yards before a nice run by Chris Rainey would put the Lions back in the red zone. The Lions would be unable to record the major, but would settle for a field goal to bring them within two, trailing 19-17 with 4:29 left in the quarter.

B.C. would be able to muster a solid drive late in the half, with Travis Lulay being picked off by DB Adam Konar for the games’ first interception. On the following Edmonton possession Mike Reilly would find Mitchell again for a fifty-one yard gain, leading to another Eskimos’ field goal. B.C. would end the half trailing by a score of 22-17, only managing to muster thirty-seven passing-yards in the half.

After a very tasteful half-time salute to our military veterans, play would resume for the second half in Vancouver with the Lions needing to come from behind in order to secure a spot in the 2018 CFL playoffs. Tyrell Sutton would kick off the Lions’ opening drive by collecting eleven yards on the ground, bringing him up to seventy-nine yards on the day.

After a first half that saw Lions’ QB Travis Lulay struggle in the air, the veteran quarterback would bounce back in a big way in the second half. Lulay would air out an early 55-yard pass reception to Bryan Burnham, who would set up a first & goal for the Lions. After Tyrell Sutton would add another six yards rushing, DeVier Posey would haul in his first touchdown as a Lion on a four yard TD pass from Travis Lulay. This would bring the Lions back in front 24-22 midway through the third quarter.

Shawn Lemon would ignite the crowd as well as the Lions defence on the Eskimos next possession, sacking Mike Reilly on second and four and effectively ending the drive. This would return the ball to Lulay and the Lions’ offence at the B.C. forty, where they would go to work quickly. Lulay would connect with DeVier Posey again, this time with Posey breaking up the middle and taking it sixty-five yards all the way to the house. After entering the third quarter down by five, the Lions had now stormed back to take a 31-22 lead with 5:22 left in the quarter.

DeVier Posey and the Lions’ suddenly scorching offence would be back at it on the their next possession, with Posey having his best game in a Lions uniform and collecting his third touchdown of the day. Officially a thirty-two yard TD reception, in just under a quarter Travis Lulay had gone from thirty-seven yards passing all the way to 209 heading into the fourth quarter. The score to end the third quarter would see B.C. now ahead 38-22.

The Edmonton offence would be completely stifled in the second half, only gaining about fifty yards net yards in the third quarter and having no answer for the Lions savage defence. It would really become apparent at this point in the game just how much of an energy and momentum boost this B.C. defence has become, constantly making life a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

Edmonton’s only lasting possession would come with 6:47 left in the contest when Mike Reilly would lead his club down field into Lions’ territory. However, Lions’ Otha Foster would then enter the backfield and crunch Mike Reilly, forcing another Eskimos fumble which would be recovered by Shawn Lemon. Unfortunately for B.C. Travis Lulay would be picked off by Aaron Grimes who would take it fifty seven yards for the major. This opportunistic strike by the Edmonton defence would bring them back within ten with just over five minutes left in the game, but after the two teams would trade late field goals, B.C. would go on to claim the 42-32 victory.

Despite a big night on offence for B.C., a major factor in the Lions mid-season turn around has been the coming together of their secondary. The Lions’ defence has become the life blood of the team, with first-year Lions’ Davon Coleman, Shawn Lemon and Odell Willis finding their grooves over the past ten games. The Lions’ feral and unforgiving style on defence has been noticeable for weeks, and it has them playing some great football and leading the CFL in interceptions and pass knockdowns. While also just three sacks back of the league lead, the Lions tenacious secondary has been a major reason for them coming out winners in six of their last seven games. Winsten Rose also had an strong outing on Friday night, while Jordan Herdman and Bo Lokombo recorded six tackles each.

After a tough first half in the air, QB Travis Lulay found his rhythm in the second half of Friday’s contest. Connecting once with Byran Burnham and three times with DeVier Posey, Lulay would end the night 14/21, while throwing four touchdowns and two interceptions. Tyrell Sutton came up just three yards shy of one hundred on the night, and now has 197 rushing yards over his last two games. Chris Rainey also had a great night for the Leos, collecting exactly 200-yards in combined punt and kick returns and adding a heroic kick return touchdown that changed the momentum. Next up for the Lions is a clash with the Saskatchewan Roughriders next Saturday in Regina, before returning home for the season finale on November 3rd against Calgary.

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