Esks turn it on for Tucker

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Now that is an emotional, gut-check win.

With injured Jason Tucker watching his teammates from a luxury box at Commonwealth Stadium last night, the Edmonton Eskimos scored 25 unanswered second-half points to beat the B.C. Lions 35-24.

The win moves Edmonton into sole possession of second place in the West Division with a 4-2 record, two points ahead of B.C. and Calgary.

It also means the Esks have won four of their last five games.

After being down 24-10 early in the third quarter and looking to be emotionally spent after losing Tucker last week to a broken neck, the Eskimos surely surprised some of the hometown faithful with the comeback.

"We knew we needed to win this game, not only for us but Jason Tucker as well. This means a lot, I am sure to him and definitely a lot to us," said Edmonton defensive back Jason Goss.

Life looked simple and easy for the Esks on their first drive of the night, going 90 yards in 4:32 for a 7-0 lead on a Ricky Ray one-yard touchdown run on the eighth play of the drive.

But that was the extent of the offensive excitement for the rest of the first half for the 35,008 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Lions scored 24 of the next 27 points to take a 24-10 lead early in the second half.

Paris Jackson (12-yard pass) and Jarious Jackson (10-yard run) provided the majors with kicker Paul McCallum providing the rest.

But a miscommunication between Jarious Jackson and receiver Ruffus Skillern opened the door for the Edmonton second-half comeback.

The Lions pivot threw the ball right into the arms of rookie Edmonton defensive back Bradley Robinson on a busted route with 4:37 left in the third quarter.

From there, the Esks rattled off two touchdowns for 14 unanswered points.

"We had to go in there (to the locker room) and re-group," said receiver Fred Stamps on what adjustments were made.

A gutsy 21-yard catch over the middle by Kamau Peterson set the stage for Stamps to make a 45-yard touchdown reception on the next play.

"When Kamau made that big catch it kind of sparked us," said Ray. "And guys just picked up their game."

Peterson helped set up the next touchdown by keeping his feet in bounds on a critical 25-yard reception to end the third stanza.

Ray then found a wide-open Andrew Nowacki for a 19-yard touchdown catch on the next play - marking Nowacki's third catch of the year.

Noel Prefontaine connected on a 42-yard field goal with 6:43 left to give Edmonton its first lead since the opening drive of the game.

Ray added another one-yard touchdown plunge with 2:07 left after the club converted on a third-and-two gamble from B.C.'s four-yard line.

"It is tough not having (Tucker) on the field," continued Stamps. "He is our guy. We miss him, we can't wait for him to come back but we just have to finish it out (this year)."

FINISH LINES: Offensive tackle Garrick Jones suffered a right arm injury in the second half but returned to finish the game.

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GAME GRADES

OVERALL: A

Offence: A

Awesome on the first drive of the game and stellar in the second half. But it was rather ineffective in the second quarter.

Defence: A

Two second-half interceptions: Bradley Robinson's started the comeback and Trey Young's sealed the win.

Special teams: B

Noel Prefontaine made both field goals and the punt coverage unit provided a strong rush on Paul McCallum.

Coaching: A

The second-half game plan on offence was excellent, driving the ball down the Lions throats when it mattered most.

WHY ESKS WON

Because the club woke up in the second half to play their best 30 minutes of the year, scoring 25 unanswered points

NOTABLES

As expected, starting Edmonton cornerback Jordan Younger was scratched last night. It's unclear if he's hurt, sick or a healthy scratch but he didn't practice for two days before the game. Jason Goss moved to cornerback with Trey Young to safety ... J.R. LaRose was a surprising scratch before the game, replaced by Sammy Okpro ... Star B.C. receiver Geroy Simon was scratched due to a hamstring strain.

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GOAT HORNS

B.C. OFFENCE

A meager field goal is all the Leos could muster for points in the second half. Unacceptable.

BIG CATCH

KAMAU PETERSON, EDM

Going over defensive back Korey Banks, Peterson grabs a 25-yard pass on the final play of the third quarter and walks the tightrope to keep his feet in bounds. Edmonton scored on the next play to tie the game at 24.

BIG HIT

OTIS FLOYD, BC

Going into the danger zone in the middle of the field, Esks receiver Kamau Peterson grabs a 21-yard pass but is hammered by Otis Floyd, sending both players flying. Edmonton scored a major on the next play to make it 24-17 in the third quarter.


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