Travis Lulay and the BC Lions offence couldn’t get on track against the Eskimos
Photo Credit: Canadian Press / Ian Jackson
There is an old saying that says “The defence rests”. Saturday afternoon in Edmonton the Lions defence never got that chance as the Lions fell to the 3-0 Edmonton Eskimos by a score of 33-17.
An inept offence kept the defence on the field for most of the game and it was too much to ask against an Edmonton offence firing on all cylinders to start the season. With the win the Eskimos sit alone at the top of the CFL West division while the Lions are sharing the basement with the equally hurting Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Eskimos set the tone for the game early, methodically marching down the field and in the process using up half the first quarter on a drive that saw Ricky Ray go 7-8. Edmonton failed get a major but opened the scoring on a 20 yard Damon Duval field goal.
The Lions proceeded to go two and out on their first possession, and that would be the story of the first half. With the Lions defence settling down after that first drive they gave the offence the chance to get going by keeping the score close. But fatigue would soon set in.
Last week’s game saw Lulay the victim of drops by his receivers. But on this night he saw his passes bouncing off the turf or thrown over his targets head. The running game was once again not utilized, and the Eskimos defence barely saw the field.
Even when the defence appeared to make a stop, there were penalties that kept drives alive. An Eric Taylor offside penalty kept saw the Eskimos take advantage on the next two plays, with a 17 yard pass to Jason Barnes and then 42 yard pass and run to Fred Stamps for the game’s first touchdown. The Eskimos led 10-0 with the Lions only touching the ball four times.
The Eskimos would add a single on the ensuing kickoff after Tim Brown bobbled the ball in the end zone and the Lions ineptitude on offense continued as two more passes went incomplete with Lulay still looking shaky. Lulay was 1 for 6 for 7 yards in the opening frame.
When the 2nd quarter began, the Lions defence was again trying to do their part, forcing the Eskimos to punt on their first possession of the 2nd quarter. But the offense continued to sputter and after another two and out Edmonton blocked a Paul McCallum punt and things started going from bad to worse for the Lions.
With the Eskimos scrimmaging at the Lions 35, Ray drove the Esks into field goal position and Duval extended the lead to 14-0. The Lions looked to build on their 7 yards of offence but an end around to Shawn Gore went nowhere and Lulay couldn’t connect on a 2nd and 5 forcing the Lions to punt once again. McCallum pinned the Eskimos deep and the Lions defence who had practically been on the field for the whole game were able to get a stop and the Lions had great field position to start at the Eskimo’s 45 after the punt. Lulay completes a 7 yard pass to Geroy Simon but the Lions couldn’t convert on 2nd and 3 after Jamall Robertson was stuffed. BC sent out Paul McCallum to try a 45 yard field goal and he connected to get the Lions on the board, making the score 14-3 with just over four minutes remaining in the half.
The fatigue of being on the field for the whole half started to show on the Lions defence. Marcus Henry caught a pass in front of Dante Marsh for a nice gain, before Adarious Bowman went on a 46 yard romp after a missed tackle by David Hyland. The Eskimos punched it into the end zone on the next play with a Ricky Ray pass to Daniel Porter and it was 21-3 Eskimos.
The Lions got their first 1st down of the half with just over 2:00 minutes remaining. The set of plays saw a big completion to Geroy Simon of 38 yards as the Lions looked to get some points before the half. They accomplished that when Lulay found Simon in the end zone with 1:34 remaining and the Lions were amazingly only down by 11.
But with just over a minute left Ray wasn’t satisfied and marched the Eskimos into Lions territory. Once again sloppy tackling was a key by a tired defence. To make matters worse, nose tackle Eric Taylor had to leave with a leg injury and the Lions didn’t have a backup leaving the defensive line thin. The Eskimo drive stalled and a 44 yard Duval field goal sailed wide for a single, making the score 22-10 at the half.
The Lions received to start the 3rd quarter and scrimmaged from inside their 25. A two yard toss to Andrew Harris and a 2nd down conversion to Akeem Foster saw things start more promising for BC. The drive continued with completions to Dobson Collins and Kamau Peterson but stalled on the next two plays, forcing the Lions to punt.
The Eskimos first possession of the 2nd half started at their own 21. Daniel Porter ran for 8 yards to start the drive but the Lions stuffed him in the backfield on 2nd down and the Eskimos had to give the ball back. A great return by Andrew Harris on the punt was nullified by a Rolly Lumbala holding call however and the Lions scrimmaged from their 35 but failed to generate anything more than a first down.
On the next drive Ray scampered for 27 yards. The Lions had the Eskimos facing third and five, but Edmonton caught the Lions sleeping on a fake punt and direct snap to Mathieu Betrand to extend the drive. The move paid off for the Eskimos as even though the drive was stopped again it got them into field goal range. Luckily for the Lions Duval pushed it wide again for another single, extending the lead to 23-10.
The defence had kept the score within a couple of touchdowns and on the Lions next drive they decided to start using Jamall Roberston and it started to pay off. But then the wheels came off as Lulay threw a pass to the sideline that was jumped on by TJ Hill. Lulay did save a touchdown on the play by hustling back to make the tackle on Hill, but the Eskimos were threatening again. After a too many men in the huddle penalty on the Eskimos, Ray ran for a first down then found Jason Barnes to set the Eskimos up first and goal at the five. They only needed one play from Daniel Porter to punch it in, and the Lulay interception proved a costly one, extending the Eskimos lead to 30-10.
That seemed to suck the life out of any momentum the Lions had and the Eskimos added a field goal before Akeem Foster scored a late touchdown to make the final 33-17.
- Geroy Simon was one of the lone bright spots on offence for the Lions and surpassed the 14,000 yard mark for his career with a catch in the 4th quarter.
- The Lions rushed the ball just 8 times for 56 yards.
- Ricky Ray has yet to throw an interception in 3 games this season, and was 24 of 33 for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- The Lions next game is Friday July 22nd at 7:00pm against the Hamilton Tiger Cats at Empire Field.