EDMONTON — The B.C. Lions pounced on a wounded Edmonton Eskimos squad Friday night.
Arland Bruce reeled in a pair of touchdown passes as the Lions contributed to the recent collapse of the Eskimos with a dominating 36-1 victory.
It was the second win in the last three outings for B.C. after an 0-5 start to the season.
“It was a great team win,” said Lions quarterback Travis Lulay. “It was what we hoped to achieve heading into our bye week. We have been saying that we needed to find a way to beat a team like this that has played a lot of good football this season.
“For us to win a game on the road against a team that beat us up pretty good in this same spot a month ago, we needed that.”
The injury-riddled Eskimos are headed in the opposite direction with three consecutive losses – including a 27-4 loss to Montreal the previous week – after a 5-0 start to the year.
“Embarrassing,” said Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed. “We didn’t do a good job executing. They beat us in every way, shape and form.”
The Eskimos were missing four starting receivers Friday with Fred Stamps, Marcus Henry, Jason Barnes and Adarious Bowman all out with injuries. Newcomers Ryan Grice-Mullen, Dobson Collins and Prechae Rodriguez all made their Eskimo debuts.
Defensive back Rod Williams, who leads the CFL with four interceptions, also missed the game with a hamstring injury.
Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray was also shaking his head about the suddenly listless Eskimos offence, which has scored only five points in its last eight quarters of play.
“I’m as frustrated as you can be,” Ray said. “We just haven’t played well offensively. We have to fix a lot of things. We are doing a lot of things wrong right now. There are a lot of things we need to correct.”
B.C. head coach Wally Buono said it was a game that his team can build from.
“I’m proud of our team but it is tough for the Eskimos when they have lost all of their receivers. Our guys played very well, all-around,” said Buono. “We have 10 games left and this will take some of the pressure off them. The second half of the season is going to be fun.”
With a bye next week, it is the first time since 1969 that the Eskimos failed to record a win in August.
Ray telegraphed what was to come as he struggled in the early going and was intercepted on successive possessions. Korey Banks first picked off Ray at the B.C. five and was followed by Solomon Elmimian intercepting a pass at the Edmonton 52.
The second pick would quickly lead to a 7-0 Lions lead with five minutes to play in the first as Lulay found Akeem Foster with a pass. Foster was able to avoid Edmonton’s bumbling attempts at tackles and sprint 56 yards into the end zone.
The Lions came right back at the Eskimos on their next possession but had to settle for a 25-yard Paul McCallum field goal for a 10-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Edmonton finally got on the board with a single from a missed Damon Duvall field goal attempt four minutes into the second.
B.C. countered with a McCallum field goal and then marched down the field in the final minutes to score as Bruce made a jumping catch on the goal line with 30 seconds remaining to put the Leos ahead 20-1 at the half.
The Lions had 241 yards in offence through 30 minutes while Edmonton was only able to muster 74 yards.
B.C. kept coming to start the third quarter but the Eskimos defence stepped up to keep them off the board as Wopamo Osaisai picked off a Lulay pass in the Edmonton end zone. However, Ray was picked off in turn on the very next play by Ryan Phillips, leading to a 10-yard TD pass to Bruce and a 27-1 Lions lead.
Veteran Kerry Joseph came in to replace Ray at quarterback but the move failed to awaken the Eskimos from their slumber as the third quarter came to a close.
The Lions kept on roaring to start the fourth as they cushioned their lead to 33 points on a 25-yard TD toss to Geroy Simon just over a minute into the final frame.
Midway through the fourth, Edmonton got hemmed into its own end and conceded a two-point safety to extend the Lions lead to 36-1.
B.C. recorded eight sacks in the game against the porous Edmonton offensive line, three apiece coming from Keron Williams and Aaron Hunt.
Both teams have byes next week and won’t play again until September.
Notes: The Eskimos won 33-7 last month in the only previous meeting between the two teams. Edmonton and B.C. will face each other four times this year… The Eskimos came into the contest 102-68-4 all-time against the Leos… Since August 1, the Eskimos have brought in seven players and released eight… Travis Lulay made his 14th consecutive start for the Lions. The longest run since Buck Pierce made 17 starts in a row in late 2008 and early 2009. No Lions QB has started more than 12 games in a single season since 2004… B.C. linebacker Solomon Elimimian entered the game as the first player to reach 50 tackles in 2011 and is on pace to match the CFL record of 129 set by Calvin Tiggle in 1994. He had four tackles against Edmonton.