Worst case scenario

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

After fumbling and bumbling their way through the second half last night, the Edmonton Eskimos are now playing catch-up in the West Division.

Two key fumbles by Ricky Ray and a blocked field goal in the final 30 minutes yesterday led to the Esks spoiling an opportunity to pull into a first-place tie in the West Division.

A 43-28 defeat to the B.C. Lions now means Edmonton is 9-7 and two points behind Calgary and B.C. for first.

"We had a golden opportunity to control our destiny and we didn't get it done," said Edmonton kicker Noel Prefontaine who had a field goal blocked with seven seconds left, giving B.C. the tiebreaker edge on the year.

The Esks are now tied for last in the West with Saskatchewan with two games left in the regular season.

WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA

A win last night at Commonwealth Stadium would have put Edmonton in a great position to host a home playoff game because of the season-series edge over B.C.

But Edmonton gassed a five-point lead (28-23) to start the fourth quarter and allowed B.C. to score 20 unanswered points.

Coming into the game, Edmonton held a 2-1 series lead on the Lions and a 12-point advantage in the head-to-head combined score.

That is all toast now.

"We had great opportunities sitting in front of us and bottom line we didn't get it done," said Ray, who led the offence to just seven points in the second half.

Added Edmonton middle linebacker Agustin Barrenechea: "We didn't play Eskimo football - stopping the run, making plays to put them in second and long, turnovers. I don't think we had any turnovers (last night)."

Proving he hasn't lost a step, Charlie Roberts ran through the Eskimos' defence in the first quarter for 49 yards and a touchdown (one yard run) to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.

Edmonton answered with an AJ Harris two-yard touchdown run before B.C.'s Paris Jackson scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first quarter.

A Calvin McCarty three-yard touchdown catch brought Edmonton even with 4:50 remaining in the first half.

That set the stage for 10 points in the final 63 seconds of the second quarter to give Edmonton a 21-17 halftime lead.

Paul McCallum's second field goal of the game - set up by a Ray fumble at Edmonton's 28-yard line just 1:18 into the second half - brought the Lions to 21-20.

END OF SCORING

Edmonton answered - yet again - with a touchdown to Kelly Campbell. But that was the end of the Esks scoring.

The Lions shut out the Esks in the final 25:35 of the game.

The Leos finally regained the lead with 12:21 left in the fourth quarter on Roberts' second touchdown of the game (two-yard run) that was set up by pivot Buck Pierce reading a safety blitz and finding Jackson for a 37-yard catch in the middle of the field.

Ray's next fumble - his 11th of the year - on a botched handoff to Calvin McCarty was a huge mistake with 10 minutes left.

B.C. needed just three plays to put the ball in the end zone on a 31-yard pass to Geroy Simon.

A fake punt by McCallum led to Simon's second major to make it 43-28 with 54 seconds left.

A last-ditch field goal attempt from the 33-yard line by Prefontaine was blocked, erasing Edmonton's final chance to get the tie-breaker edge with the Lions.

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GAME BALL

Geroy Simon, B.C.

After being held to one catch last week against Edmonton, the Lions receiver had two touchdowns and 126 yards receiving last night.

GAME GRADES

OVERALL: D

Offence: D

Put up more than 325 yards of offence, but key turnovers killed the team. With two more last night, Ricky Ray has fumbled 11 times this year - a team high.

Defence: D

Couldn't get off the field in the second half and had trouble with the run - again. A key drop by Jordan Younger on what should have been an interception late in the third quarter hurt.

Special teams: D

A great effort until B.C. punter Paul McCallum pulled a fake punt with 1:20 left to seal the win. Then a blocked field goal with seven seconds left killed any hope of evening the tiebreaker. Those mistakes can't happen at that time of the game.

WHY ESKS LOST

Fell apart on offence in the second half and then committed two key special teams gaffes in the final two minutes.

NOTABLES

B.C.'s Paris Jackson eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving yardage mark for the season last night with eight catches for 127 yards. It marked the first time in his six-year CFL career he reached the four-digit level ... Edmonton's four scratches from the 46-man roster last night: OL Aaron Fiacconi, DB Wale Dada, SB Fred Stamps and DL Jim Davis.


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