Eskimos face tall task in clash with Lions
Edmonton, AB (Sports Network) - The top team in the CFL hits the field on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium, as the British Columbia Lions drop in on the Edmonton Eskimos for a West Division showdown.
Aside from a few bumps in the road early on this season, the Lions have been cruising along like the Grey Cup Champions that they are. The team picked up a second straight win and the sixth in the last seven outings last Saturday with a 28-23 triumph over Toronto at home in BC Place. The victory was the eighth of the season for BC, the most of any team after 12 weeks of action.
Quarterback Travis Lulay led the attack for the Lions as he completed 24-of-40 passes for 390 yards and two touchdowns, extending his consecutive game streak with at least one passing major to 22 in a row. With his 39-yard TD strike to Shawn Gore in the second quarter, Lulay moved into second place all-time for consecutive games with a passing score, leaving both Anthony Calvillo and Doug Flutie behind at 21 in a row. Next on the list is former Montreal signal- caller Sam Etcheverry, who delivered a major in 34 straight games from 1954-56.
Gore finished with three catches for 96 yards, while Geroy Simon tallied six grabs for 117 yards and Arland Bruce five catches for 55 yards and a score.
The effort by Simon marked just his second 100-yard game of the season and the first since he opened 2012 with five catches for 105 yards versus Winnipeg when he became the league's all-time leader in receiving yards. Simon, who has yet to take a pass into the end zone this season, now needs just 24 more receptions to reach 1,000 for his career, which means the all-time record set by Ben Cahoon is certainly a possibility.
As for the Eskimos last week, they played their own version of rotisserie quarterback as all three available signal-callers, Steven Jyles, Kerry Joseph and Matt Nichols, made an appearance in the hopeless 51-8 loss against Hamilton last Saturday afternoon.
Jyles and Joseph were both already ailing before the game even began and then Nichols entered late in the third quarter and was throttled at the end of a scramble, requiring him to come to the sideline and take a seat.
The trio combined to hit 25-of-44 for 357 yards, one interception and five painful sacks. Jerome Messam had the only major of the game for the Eskimos, thanks to a one-yard run in the first quarter, but he finished with just eight total yards on five attempts. Hugh Charles accounted for 32 yards on five carries as the team continued to have trouble identifying the most reliable ground gainer that could serve the interests of the Eskimos the best moving forward.
The Edmonton defense surrendered 571 yards and even though Hamilton was flagged for 10 penalties for 120 yards, the Tigers-Cats still couldn't be brought down.
Reports have Jyles taking the majority of the snaps in practice this week and he is the one who is expected to make the start against the Lions. Jyles, who has attempted the most passes for an Eskimo this year, is hitting on just 58 percent of his passes, leading to five touchdowns and also five interceptions. Jyles probably best represents the quarterback position for the Eskimos the best as the aerial attack overall has just 11 TDs and 11 INTs.
Against the Lions in his career, Jyles has been sacked 18 times in as many appearances and has more interceptions (five) than TDs (four).
At the other end of the spectrum is Lulay who is third in the CFL with 20 passing scores and thanks to just eight picks and 66.5 percent completions, the signal-caller has the third-best efficiency rating (101.4) at the moment as well.
A veteran of 10 matchups against the Eskimos, Lulay has come on strong most recently with a total of 11 TDs in his last four appearances.
Reaching back to the 1954 season and taking into account only regular-season matchups, Edmonton holds a 103-71-4 edge in the all-time series between the squads. The Eskimos won the most recent meeting back in July by a score of 27-14 in Vancouver, but still BC has taken three of the last four encounters overall.
The teams are set to meet once more during the regular season on Oct. 19 at BC Place.