Lions crush Eskimos 40-23

BC Lions running back Andrew Harris celebrates his touchdown with Travis Lulay (L) during the...

BC Lions running back Andrew Harris celebrates his touchdown with Travis Lulay (L) during the second half of their CFL Western Conference Final football game against the Edmonton Eskimos in Vancouver, British Columbia, November 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:19 AM ET

VANCOUVER - The B.C. Lions have never won a home playoff game against the Edmonton Eskimos before.

Only someone forgot to tell the Lions that on Sunday.

They won the West Division final, 40-23, in front of a vocal crowd of 41,313 to punch their ticket to a hometown Grey Cup in a week. And they needed all of six minutes to do it.

That's how long it took B.C. to put 20 unanswered points on the board at the end of the half as the Eskimos self-destructed in the penalty department.

“B.C. was the better football team (Sunday) night,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “Their execution was better than ours, they took care of the football, they didn't commit the penalties that we committed.

“They deserved what they got.”

What they got was a big game from their quarterback, who led his squad in both passing and rushing with 293 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 20 of 27 pass completions.

“Is this the most important game I've ever played? Probably, but next week it's the same thing,” said Travis Lulay, the West Division nominee for most outstanding player, who broke for a 61-yard sprint in the fourth quarter to lead 40-16.

But it was all but over by that point, as the Lions turned a 6-0 lead in the first quarter into a 26-3 lead at by halftime.

Six minutes prior, Geroy Simon hauled in a 53-yard pass, stiff-arming cornerback Jykine Bradley to the turf on the way to scoring the game's first touchdown and take a 13-3 lead.

Looking to answer back, Ricky Ray was intercepted instead by defensive back Korey Banks, returning the ball 46 yards to set up a 14-yard touchdown reception by running back Andrew Harris to lead 20-3.

Then, aided by field position from a barrage of bad penalties by the Eskimos, Lions kicker Paul McCallum hit a pair of field goals prior to halftime to finish the game four-for-four.

“You've got to give them credit for playing a strong game,” said Ray. “Definitely, there's a lot of plays where if we could have just done a little better, maybe establish a little bit of rhythm, it would have got us going a little bit.

“But they just did a good job of keeping us off-balance.”

Like when defensive back Chris Thompson picked off Lulay's only bad decision of the game, only to have Ray fumble the ball back to B.C. on a sack the next snap.

Harris spun the turnover into a 13-yard rush into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game and a 33-6 lead before the Eskimos got three back on a 21-yard field goal by Derek Schiavone, who finished three-for-three to score Edmonton's nine points over the first three quarters.

Slotback Jason Barnes scored the Eskimos' first touchdown in the fourth quarter, leaping over double coverage in the end zone to bring down a 31-yard pass from Ray, who also found Fred Stamps in the end zone from 19 yards out before Lulay knelt out the win.

“It's the best,” said Lions centre Angus Reid. “This whole season is one that will never be forgotten, I don't think, by the team and by the city.

“Starting 0-5, battling all the way back, having a Grey Cup in your backyard and making it all this way. It's magical.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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Check out a recap of QMI Agency's in-game chat.


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