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Lions hope to right ship in clash with last-place Eskimos
Vancouver, BC (SportsNetwork.com) - The British Columbia Lions try to bring an end to an ill-timed three-game slide on Friday night when they host the Edmonton Eskimos in Week 18 action at BC Place.
Less than a month ago, the Lions where in the thick of things when it came to competing for the top spot in the West Division standings, but this current slide has knocked the team down to third place behind both Calgary and Saskatchewan. Prior to the losing streak, BC had dropped just four games in 13 outings.
Last weekend, British Columbia was stymied by the Roughriders on the road, 35-14, going from an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter to a 31-7 hole at the break. Granted, the Lions limited the hosts to just four points after intermission, but by then the damage had been done.
The Lions produced a mere 240 yards of total offense and 13 first downs, with nine penalties for a loss of 70 yards hampering their efforts versus the Riders. Quarterback Thomas DeMarco completed only 13-of-30 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns, while being picked off four times. In addition to the four interceptions thrown by DeMarco, BC also lost possession of three of its five fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Nick Moore and Shawn Gore both logged receiving touchdowns for the Lions, the former posting a game-high five receptions for 73 yards.
While the Lions have lost out on a golden opportunity to perhaps control their own destiny in the postseason, that was never an option for the Eskimos who are currently tied with Winnipeg for the worst overall record in the league with a mere three wins in 16 chances. Last week, Edmonton suffered a 27-13 setback versus Calgary, the team's fourth consecutive defeat following the one and only time they managed to post back-to-back victories in 2013.
Outside of a seven-yard touchdown pass from Mike Reilly to Adarius Bowman in the second quarter, the Eskimos offense made very little impact versus Calgary at home. Reilly finished the contest 18-of-34 for 247 yards and a score, but he was picked off once and suffered five sacks along the way. Somewhat surprisingly, the quarterback was also the leading rusher for Edmonton with 43 yards on seven carries.
Receiver Fred Stamps stepped up to grab seven balls for a game-high 132 yards, marking the sixth time this season he has gone over the 100-yard mark, but still it did nothing to change the outcome. Stamps, who now has five straight 1,000-yard seasons under his belt, leads the league in receiving with 1,259 yards, one of only three players with more than 1,000 at the moment.
Stamps, who now needs just 143 yards to establish a new career high in that department, may not have the most catches (68) in the league at this moment, but his 11 majors are second among all receivers and has him tied for fourth in the league overall.
While Reilly currently ranks third in the league in passing yards with 3,836 and is tied for third in passing scores with 22, his 16 interceptions and penchant for leaving the pocket and trying to become a threat as a runner has hampered the productivity of the Eskimos as a whole. One can only wonder what the numbers would look like for the Stamps if Reilly wasn't the fifth-ranked rusher in the CFL after 16 games with his 72 attempts for 624 yards. Perhaps if the payoff were more advantageous for Reilly when he takes off running it would make more sense, but with just one major on the ground it seems the signal caller is running scared more often than not.
Even though DeMarco might not be the quarterback the Lions would prefer to have in the cross hairs these days, the fact that Edmonton is tied for last in the league when it comes to preventing completed passes should work in BC's favor. At the moment, the Eskimos are permitting 66.1 percent of all pass attempts against them to be completed. On the other side, the Lions have the best pass defense in the league in terms of yards per game (243.8), which means Reilly will probably by tucking the ball away and taking off even more this week.
In terms of the all-time series between these two teams, the Esks own a 103-75-4 advantage when taking into consideration only regular-season bouts dating back to 1954. The squads played back-to-back games during the first month of the campaign, with both contests being won by the Lions, the first being a 17-3 triumph in Edmonton and the other a 31-21 final at home.
British Columbia has not only won four straight in the relationship, it has taken seven of the last eight and eight of the last 12 encounters as well.
10/23 11:06:27 ET