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Lions visit Eskimos in clash of 1-1 squads
Edmonton, AB (Sports Network) - Two of the three teams in the Western Conference that have split their first two outings of the season get together on Saturday night, as the Edmonton Eskimos play host to the Lions of British Columbia at Commonwealth Stadium.
Along with Calgary, which also earned a split through the first two weeks of the new season, the Lions and Eskimos are both chasing Saskatchewan which is the only team in the league to have opened with two wins in as many tries.
Edmonton actually bowed to the aforementioned Roughriders at home in the opener, 39-18, but then bounced back to claim a 30-20 victory versus Hamilton last Sunday in a rain-soaked contest that saw the Esks open the meeting with 16 straight points. Quarterback Mike Reilly was a huge part of the victory as he not only completed 14-of-22 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns, but also ran the ball six times for 54 yards and a major.
But as pivotal as Reilly was for Edmonton, it was Hugh Charles who garnered CFL Offensive Player of the Week honors as he ran for 119 yards on a mere 11 carries. One of those rushing attempts went for 70 yards and a score, while he also added three receptions for 27 yards and an additional TD.
The Eskimos hampered themselves a bit with 15 penalties which cost them 137 yards, but at the same time they benefited from Hamilton being flagged 15 times for a loss of 120 yards.
After just two games, Edmonton has been hit with a league-high 30 penalties for a loss of 227 yards overall. With so many hurdles to overcome, it should not come as a surprise that the Eskimos are last in the CFL in scoring with 24.0 ppg, compared to BC which is third from the top with 28.0 ppg.
In news off the field, prior to the meeting with Hamilton, the Eskimos announced they had signed head coach Kavis Reed to a contract extension. The terms of the contract were not disclosed, but management states that it gives the team stability moving forward.
As for the Lions, it was their defense that went to work against Toronto at home on July 4, limiting the reigning Grey Cup Champs to just six total points through the first three quarters of action. British Columbia was far from an offensive juggernaut, but the team did keep the pressure on by posting points in all four periods, en route to the 24-16 triumph.
Brushing off three sacks, Travis Lulay managed to hit the mark on 20-of-34 pass attempts for 249 yards and a touchdown, a six-yard effort to Courtney Taylor to kick off the game's scoring in the opening frame. Like Edmonton, the standout performer for BC turned out to be running back Andrew Harris who carried the ball 15 times for a game-high 103 yards and a score, en route to being named the top Canadian for the week. For good measure, Harris caught six passes for another 49 yards as well.
Outside of his lost fumble, kicker Hugh O`Neill also had a game to remember for the Lions as he converted three of his four field goal attempts and finished with 12 points in the victory.
While O`Neill was certainly a key element in the last game for the Lions, the team's offense has been rather strong when it comes to generating big plays. British Columbia leads the league with nine big plays, something the league describes as running plays that register at least 20 yards and passing plays that reach at least 30 yards, of which the Lions have five and four, respectively.
Conversely, the BC defense has given up just four big plays, one of which was a kick return that was of significance, and that has the squad ranked first in the league with a plus-five in that department.
Edmonton is minus-one in big play margin, the biggest issue being that the pass defense has allowed four plays of at least 30 yards already.
In 2012, these squads hooked up three times during the regular season, with Edmonton winning the first encounter in July by a score of 27-14 on the road, but both subsequent meetings went to the Lions.
The clubs are set to face off against each other in just seven days at BC Place, and they also have a third date on the books in late October.
07/10 10:37:17 ET