B.C. buries the Esks

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

It had the makings of being a storybook ending.

Instead, Fred Stamps is left scratching his head on a play that sums up the Edmonton Eskimos entire year.

The Green and Gold are now all but buried for 2007 after Stamps and Stefan LeFors failed to connect on third-and-seven with 12 seconds remaining yesterday afternoon.

If Stamps had caught the ball, the Eskimos would have pulled off a 25-24 win over the top-rated B.C. Lions.

But the rookie quarterback (replacing Ricky Ray) and the rookie receiver (replacing a hobbling Jason Tucker as the go-to-guy) aren't heroes; and the referees are taking plenty of heat.

"The coach called a good play," said Stamps.

"I feel as though I had the man beat.

"Stef - everybody knew I had him beat.

"It was a bad call (by the officials) in my opinion.

"The guy grabbed me in my face.

"If you play defence, you don't grab in the face.

"I feel as though it was a bad call.

"It is my first year up here and it is kind of surprising, with the game this close."

ROOKIE CALL

Stamps refused to say that he didn't get the pass interference call because he is a rookie, but LeFors said it.

"The guy (LaVar Glover, B.C. defensive back) put hands up around his neck and face," said LeFors.

"You fight for so long and you come up short."

The loss leaves Edmonton still three points below the final playoff spot in the West Division and four points behind the last post-season berth in the East.

With just three games remaining in the regular season, the mountain to climb is rather daunting to say the least - especially if Calgary wins today to make it a five point Edmonton deficit in the West playoff race.

But pinning yesterday's 24-18 Edmonton loss to the Lions in front of 33,673 fans at Commonwealth Stadium on the final Edmonton offensive play would be foolish.

The offence turned the ball over five times - three on interceptions by LeFors and two on downs.

"You are not going to win many games by throwing three picks," said LeFors, who finished 21-40 for 250 yards.

"A couple of those were communication (problems) between me and the receiver.

"And one was just a bad throw to Trevor (Gaylor).

"Turnovers kill you and they killed us today."

SETTLING FOR LESS

Settling for field goals instead of touchdowns also burned the Esks.

Edmonton could only generate one touchdown - on a LeFors' six-yard run to make 17-7 for the home side midway through the third quarter.

The rest of the scoring came from Sean Fleming, with field goals from 37, 17 and 25 yards, along with a single.

And as usual, the offensive problems kept the defence from enjoying the spotlight for another outstanding performance.

For all intents and purposes, the Lions only generated a small handful of offensive plays - the biggest being a 93-yard pass to Jason Clermont.

B.C. scored a major two plays later on an Ian Smart run to make it 17-14.

"The defence is playing so well. I am so proud of those guys," said receiver Kamau Peterson.

"Good teams find a way to win when you give yourself a chance and we are close, just not there."

The Lions proved that theory when Smart rambled 56 yards on a punt return to set up B.C.'s go-ahead touchdown with 3:52 left in the game.


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