Stage is set

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The stage is set for a Battle Royal at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night.

The Edmonton Eskimos emerged from a slugfest at B.C. Place last night - complete with a WWE-style takedown by Rob Murphy - with a 27-20 victory over the B.C. Lions to move into a four-way first-place tie in the West Division with 18 points.

Edmonton is also heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2005 thanks to Winnipeg's win over Toronto yesterday before the Esks and Lions tangled.

But the immediate future has Edmonton and B.C. meeting again Friday in a tilt that will be emotionally charged after a wild night under the big white top yesterday.

"A lot of credit to our defence. Nothing short of outstanding. We overcame a few obstacles ... we lost two DBs on the same play," said head coach Danny Maciocia.

Jordan Younger and Paris Jackson set the tone by beaking on the Lions bench in the first quarter, but it was Murphy's dirty antics with 2:25 left in the second quarter that will still be talked about when the Lions arrive in Edmonton later this week.

Edmonton's Jason Goss picked up a fumble and started scampering toward the B.C. end zone.

Murphy - the Lions' controversial offensive tackle - forced Goss to fumble and then proceeded to attack the lightweight defensive back.

Outweighing Goss by 130 pounds, Murphy sat on him - with the ball and nobody else near - and used one hand to pin his neck and head in one direction.

Eventually Edmonton defensive tackle Dario Romero came to Goss's rescue by hammering Murphy.

But it still left Goss in extreme pain - kicking his feet in distress - on the turf for several minutes.

Somehow Murphy stayed in the game, but Edmonton lost starting safety Siddeeq Shabazz through disqualification for a separate incident on the same play.

It marked the second time in back-to-back years that Murphy had pinned an Eskimo on the turf in a game at B.C. Place. Adam Braidwood received similar treatment last July with Murphy getting tossed.

While the Lions won the WWE takedown award for the game, the Esks dominated on the scoreboard and stats sheet last night while winning their first game in Vancouver since the 2005 Grey Cup.

Edmonton's Ricky Ray picked apart the Lions defence - yet again - to the tune of 311 passing yards.

The Esks Kelly Campbell had four catches for 128 yards to go over 1,000 yards for the year.

Edmonton led 7-0 on a Ray one-yard TD plunge before the Esks pivot returned the favour by throwing an interception to LaVar Glover for a B.C. touchdown.

From there, the Esks scored 17 of the next 20 points via a Calvin McCarty three-yard touchdown, Mathieu Bertrand third-down one-yard major and a Noel Prefontaine field goal.

An ineffective Buck Pierce was eventually pulled as the Lions' quarterback with 6:16 left in the third quarter after throwing for just 90 yards and an interception.

While the B.C. defence received the hype entering the game, it was Edmonton's defence that produced four turnovers - two fumbles and an interception - and four sacks.

The Lions scored 10 late points in garbage time to make the score more respectable.

FINISH LINES: EDMONTON NOW HOLDS A 2-1 SERIES LEAD OVER THE LIONS.

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GAME BALL

Ricky Ray, EDM QB

Torched the Leos' secondary for nearly 315 yards passing - with some of the passes coming while in the grasp of Lion defenders.

WHY ESKS WON

The B.C. Lions defence has no answer to Danny Maciocia's offence, which has Ricky Ray picking apart the secondary with a combination of crossing patterns and deep throws in the middle of the field. Add in a solid defensive performance for an extra touch.

GAME GRADES

OVERALL: A

Offence: A

Nearly 400 yards of offence and six receivers caught passes.

Defence: A

Huge effort by the defensive line to get four sacks and force a fumble. Scott Coe also plugged the gap at safety.

Special Teams: B

Noel Prefontaine hit two field goals, Tristan Jackson was dangerous on many returns. The only blemish was a blocked field goal.

NOTABLES

Still recovering from a leg injury courtesy of a low - but legal - hit from Winnipeg's Stanford Samuels the week before, Edmonton receiver Fred Stamps was a game-time scratch last night. Rookie Greg Prator had to fill the void ... B.C.'s Geroy Simon caught his first pass with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, extending his streak to 103 games with a catch and making him the first Lion to eclipse 10,000 receiving yards.

UP NEXT

Vs. B.C., Friday, Commonwealth Stadium, 7 p.m., TSN (possible blackout), CHED


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