Uno Maas for Eskies

Quarterback Jason Maas celebrates the Edmonton Eskimos' 28-23 win over the B.C. Lions at B.C. Place...

Quarterback Jason Maas celebrates the Edmonton Eskimos' 28-23 win over the B.C. Lions at B.C. Place yesterday. Maas replaced Ricky Ray in the fourth quarter. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The tide was turning inside B.C. Place.

A 21-3 Edmonton Eskimos lead in the CFL West Final had disappeared. With the score tied at 21, momentum was standing tall on the B.C. Lions' bench.

That's when Edmonton Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia turned to backup quarterback Jason Maas, who drove his receivers 49 yards on five plays in a 28-23 win.

Maas hit Gaylor with a 15-yard TD pass with 5:21 left and the Esks never looked back.

They'll return to Vancouver to play the Montreal Alouettes in the Grey Cup game for the third time in the last four years.

'MAGICAL TOUCH'

"He threw in between two defenders," said Gaylor. "I really wasn't open. It's like (Maas) has a magical touch right now."

Maas came off the bench for the second straight week in relief of Ricky Ray. and, for the second straight week, Maas came up with the win.

"It was (Maas's) destiny," said Lion linebacker Carl Kidd. "Now he is a great hero. My hat goes off to him."

Maas shied away from the hero label.

"I didn't get touched the whole touchdown drive. That is all on our O-line," said Maas. "To come through in a pressure packed situation like that ..."

In the first half, Gaylor couldn't squeeze a Ray pass. The ball bounced off him and right into the hands of Barron Miles.

That interception sparked the 18-point Lions rally to tie the game and leave the result in doubt.

"(Maas) told me at halftime after my drops that he was going to come right back to me and I better (freakin') make the play," said Gaylor.

But the Lions were not about to hand the title and their locker room to the visiting Eskimos.

With three minutes left, Lion coach Wally Buono responded by bringing Casey Printers off the bench, hoping for his own touch of magic.

Printers drove down the field, but was picked off by rookie Keyuo Craver at the goal line.

When the Esks offence stalled deep in its own zone, Maciocia decided to give up a safety and hope his defence could hold on in the final minute.

Esks defensive back Donny Brady was flagged for pass interference with six seconds left, giving Printers one last shot from the 31-yard line.

His pass fell incomplete in the end zone, ending a wild dash to the wire.

The Eskimos built their 21-3 lead with two field goals in the first quarter, a single and two TD plunges by Ray.

RAY'S BEST WORK

The second TD drive, late in the second quarter, was Ray's best work of the day. A 12 play, 93-yard effort that featured three long second-down conversions.

At the end of the half, Ray had nearly 175 yards passing.

But his game collapsed in the third quarter. He was constantly pressured in the pocket as he struggled to make plays.

That allowed the Lions to put up those 18 unanswered points -- 2 TDs, a field goal and single -- setting the stage for Maas's grand entrance and clutch save.


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