A case of Casey

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It was billed as a battle of the two hottest quarterbacks in the league, right up until injuries cut a swath right through the most anticipated contest of the young season.

First came word that B.C.pivot Dave Dickenson would miss the game because of back spasms.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Edmonton Eskimos missed the entire first half with brain cramps.

FILL THE VOID

At least the Lions had Casey Printers to fill their void at quarterback.

There weren't enough bodies on the bench to fill in for all the guys who showed up late for Edmonton.

The Eskimos dug themselves a 20-0 deficit and fought like mad to get themselves back in the mix, but you just don't spot good teams that big a lead on the road and expect anything good to come of it.

"We just weren't ready to play,'' quarterback Ricky Ray said after the 25-19 loss. "We pretty much just played a 15-minute game offensively tonight, just the third quarter.''

"We started to play in the second half,'' said a seething Danny Maciocia. "If you watched the game you can come to your own conclusions as to what happened in the first half.''

The loss means the 5-2 Esks now have their work cut out for them if they hope to host a Western Final, but playoffs are a long way away. Edmonton's troubles are in the present.

After padding their record to 5-1 against a schedule comprised mainly of weak sisters, they simply didn't know what hit them when they squared off against the undefeated B.C. Lions.

"Against a good team like BC you can't afford to come out flat,'' said receiver Derrell Mitchell, one of the better players on a night when there weren't many.

"We came back and put things together, but time wasn't on our side.''

The difference between the top two teams in the West was the same stuff that Edmonton's critics have been warning them about all season: They can't, or won't, run the ball enough, they take too many penalties and have too many lapses in concentration.

It might have been enough to squeak by Hamilton and Winnipeg, but not the 6-0 Lions.

With Dickenson, the league's most accurate passer by far, unable to go, it was left up to the young understudy, Printers, who was playing his first game since last year's Western Final. He took a few plays to knock the rust off and then proceeded to knock the stuffing out of Edmonton's vaunted defence.

Aided by the usual array of Edmonton penalties (like interference calls of 39, 22 and 37 yards), B.C. took a 20-3 lead into half time.

Ray never got in sync, completing 10 of 19 passes for 125 yards and two interceptions.

"That's what we wanted to do, get him out of his rhythm,'' said Lions linebacker Simpson. "And we did.''

SIMPLE STORY

The story of the Edmonton's first half was simple: The Eskimos had seven penalties for 138 yards and three rushes for five yards.

The Esks finally decided to show up for work in the second half - a Tony Tompkins kickoff return to the BC43 set up a 26-yard Jason Tucker TD catch on the first series and a shovel pass to Elvis Joseph that gained 25 yards set up a Derrell Mitchell score. Throw in a safety touch and suddenly the Keystone Kops were back in business - 23-19 with a quarter to go.

The Lions quelled the comeback, though, keeping Edmonton off the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.

The Esks had one last chance to win it, trailing 25-19 and in B.C. territory, but Ray's Hail Mary with 11 seconds to go was intercepted by Dante Marsh.


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