June 21, 2012

Lulay’s big night leads Lions to road win over Esks

CFL.ca Staff

EDMONTON — Travis Lulay threw touchdown passes to three different receivers, as the Lions cruised past the Eskimos 24-16in pre-season action at Commonwealth Stadium.

Thursday night’s matchup marked the final pre-season outing for both teams.

Last week, the Lions picked up right where they left off in 2011 with a dominating win over the Roughriders, while the Esks dropped a close decision to their provincial rivals in Calgary.

By the Numbers – Lions offence roars past Esks D
Travis Lulay: 15-21, 3 TD, 0 INT
Kierrie Johnson: 5 REC, 94 YDS, 1 TD
Arland Bruce: 3 REC, 48 YDS, 1 TD
Geroy Simon: 2 REC, 27 YDS, 1 TD
Shawn Gore: 3 REC, 31 YDS, 1 RUN, 31 YDS

B.C. won the opening coin toss and opted to receive, with Tim Brown fielding the game’s opening kickoff by Grant Shaw.

Making his second on-field appearance since hoisting the Grey Cup last November, QB Travis Lulay orchestrated a solid first drive from scrimmage, marching 86 yards downfield on nine plays to find veteran receiver Geroy Simon for the major score.

Paul McCallum would connect on the convert, giving the Lions a 7-0 lead.

Hoping to answer on their own opening possession, the home-town Eskimos would take over from their 46-yard line with Steven Jyles under centre.

Jyles, making his first appearance in Green and Gold since being acquired in the Ricky Ray trade during the off-season, would be unable to match Lulay’s efforts, with Burke Dales ultimately forced to punt it away on third down.

The Esks would get on the board midway through the opening frame. After Jyles was once again unable to generate any traction offensively, Dales’ third-down punt sailed into the endzone for a single, cutting the Lions’ lead to six.

While the Edmonton offence continued to show very few signs of life, the defence continued to hold a dangerous BC offence at bay, highlighted by a Kommonyan Quaye sack on Lulay.

However, the sack wouldn’t translate to any momentum on the offensive side of the ball, with Dales forced to boot his third punt of the half.

With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Esks would insert Kerry Joseph into the game to take over the offence.

Jyles would exit the game with four completions for 53 yards and no touchdowns.

Joseph and Jyles have both been battling throughout training camp for the top job under centre.

In his first possession of the pre-season, Joseph would finally get the Edmonton offence on the move, leading them on a x-play, xx-yard drive that was eventually capped off by a missed field goal by kicker Derek Schiavone.

The kick sailed into the endzone for another single for the Esks.

However, the Lions would restore their six point lead, as McCallum’s attempted coffin-corner punt landed just inside the endzone for a rouge with three minutes remaining in the first half.

On Joseph’s third possession, he would continue to move the ball offensively, highlighted by a 39-yard pass to tailback Hugh Charles.

A horse collar tackle on the same play would bring the Esks just outside the five-yard line with a fresh set of downs.

Charles would give the Eskimos a 9-8 lead heading on the very next play with a six-yard scamper into the endzone.

But once again, the Lions would answer back – this time in impressive fashion.

With just 47 seconds remaining in the half, Lulay would complete a 53-yard touchdown pass to Kierrie Johnson, giving the Lions the lead heading into the break.

The Lions would catch the Esks off-guard to kickoff the second half, with McCallum kicking a short 19-yard squib that was eventually recovered by B.C.

With Lulay still in at QB for the Leos, he would complete consecutive passes to Shawn Gore and Arland Bruce, the latter of which went 25 yards for Lulay’s third TD pass of the night.

Lions head coach Mike Benevides would opt to take Lulay out of the game prior to B.C.’s next drive, inserting backup Mike Reilly under centre as his replacement.

Lulay was in mid-season form on Thursday, completing 15 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns.

The Lions would extend their lead with a 13-yard field goal by Hugh O’Neill. O’Neill split the uprights after Reilly was unable to convert on two consecutive plays from just outside the five-yard line.

Edmonton would strike again with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, with DB Michael Ricks scooping up a Keith Godding fumble and returning it 66 yards for a touchdown, making the final 24-16 for the Lions.

The Lions will open the season at home next Friday in a Grey Cup rematch against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Edmonton kicks off their season next Saturday when they play host to Ricky Ray and the Toronto Argonauts.