B.C. Lions will miss the CFL playoffs after a 19-6 loss to Eskimos eliminates them from contention
EDMONTON — The season that never really was for the B.C. Lions came to an abrupt, and merciful end, on Saturday night with Mike Reilly on the sidelines and his teammates on the losing end of another game to the Edmonton Eskimos.
Here’s what we learned from the Lions 19-6 loss at Commonwealth Stadium, which propelled the Esks into the playoffs, leaving B.C. on the sidelines.
On the Lions’ second possession, Reilly missed Duron Carter on a quick slant. After the ball was released, the Lions’ quarterback was hit by Esks linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox and defensive end Kwaku Boateng. Boateng landed with his full weight on Reilly, who immediately grabbed his left wrist.
The wrist was broken. So were the Lions.
“It sucks it happened early and it was a freak thing,” said Lions head coach DeVone Claybrooks.
Backup pivot Danny O’Brien, who’d thrown seven passes this season prior to Saturday, came on in relief and produced three two and outs in the Lions’ next four possessions. The Lions kicked a field goal at the end of the first half on a gift pass interference call on Carter to make the score 13-3 but Edmonton and quarterback Logan Kilgore responded with a late drive which ended with a field goal and a 16-3 Eskimos’ lead.
And that was all the scoring they’d need.
The Lions did keep things relatively close with a determined effort in the second half. Late in the third quarter, a goal-line stand produced a turnover and downs and O’Brien put together a 70-yard drive that ended with a 46-yard Sergio Castillo field goal.
That made the score 16-6 early in the fourth quarter but that was as close as the Lions would come. Following their scoring drive, the Lions produced just one more first down on their next four possessions.
O’Brien finished 12 of 22 for 103 yards and one interception. His longest completion was 20 yards to Bryan Burnham. John White pounded out 84 gritty yards on the ground.
“That’s our job as backup quarterbacks,” O’Brien said. “It’s tough and you feel for Mike. We did some good things but we just put up six points. I think that’s what bothers me the most, coming up short on those drives.”
“We expected Danny to come out and compete and make the throws he had to make,” said Claybrooks. “But sometimes the rush got in his face and he took his eyes off the open guy.”
Reilly declined to talk to reporters after the game but did address the team in the Lions’ locker room.
“His message was show up to work and finish this thing strong,” said O’Brien. “I’m not worried about that. Guys are going to show up. Guaranteed.”
The Lions also lost defensive halfback Aaron Grymes early in the second half with an apparent knee injury.
With the Esks imposing their will on the Lions for the third straight time this season, the only talking point concerned the legality of the hit on Reilly. It wasn’t exactly late and it wasn’t exactly dirty but a similar hit in the NFL — where the pass rusher buries the quarterback under his full weight — is ruled roughing the passer.
After the injury to Reilly, the game also deteriorated into an ugly affair. All told 25 penalties were called on the two teams for 307 yards, including 170 on the Eskimos.
“We knew it was going to be a chippy game,” said Claybrooks. “That’s a chippy team. We understand that. There’s so much history with these two teams but we have to keep our composure.
“Some guys can talk and still make plays. Most guys, 95 per cent of them, can’t. That’s what you don’t want to do. That’s how you get off your game. We’re still a little immature in that aspect.”
It’s all academic
By the game’s end, that point was also academic. Kilgore, playing for injured starter Trevor Harris, didn’t exactly light up the night sky but did produce enough offence to bring home the win. Kilgore directed an 11-play, 63-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter with 10 of the plays coming on the ground.
Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. B.C. Lions
7 p.m., B.C. Place, TV: TSN; Radio: TSN 1040 AM
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