Esks invade Empire

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The Edmonton Eskimos tarnished the B.C. Lions return to Empire Field.

After trailing 32-29 in the final minute of regulation, the Eskimos gave up a sure tie for a chance to win.

An offside called against the Lions during a successful 42-yard field goal by Derek Schiavone saw the Eski - mos forgo the three points in favour of the penalty yardage that put them third and inches.

After a successful convert where quarterback Jason Maas tucked and ducked into the pile for the first down, he found Skyler Green for a 29-yard touchdown to win 36-32.

"That's the CFL game, you don't know until the end of the game what's going to happen," said Maas, who completed six of 11 fourth-quarter passes for 101 yards and the touchdown. "It was nice to be in there at the end and get a good clutch win like that; we showed a lot of character, I thought, as a team."

The Lions threatened to win their home-opener in the temporary outdoor stadium after bouncing back from a 14-point halftime deficit. Backup quarterback Travis Lulay found receiver Terence Scott on a 26-yard connection to cap a five-play, 35-yard drive to lead by three with a minute and a half to go.

"You just go out there and try to win," said Green, a late addition to the team last year who is making his mark at receiver and punt returner. "You play until the fat lady sings.

"You don't expect to be that wide open at the end of the game."

The Eskimos were the first on the board after linebacker T.J. Hill intercepted an opening- drive pass from Casey Printers. The ball bounced off the hands of Lions running back Jamal Robertson and was plucked from the air by Hill, who ran it back 59 yards to the end zone.

Ricky Ray completed 13 of 14 first-half passes for 175 yards and a touchdown -- a 20-yard pass to slotback Jason Barnes that capped a five-play, 66-yard drive through the air.

Ray was a perfect four-for-four on the second-quarter drive, which saw the Eskimos offence firmly in control against the Lions top defenders.

"I had a tough time getting used to the game-time action with guys really coming after you," he said. "I had confidence my receivers were going to hit their spots and they did and we were able to make some good plays. We've just got to do a better job, especially in second-and-short situations, staying on the field and keeping some more of those drives together."

A 10-play, 92-yard drive that ended in a seven-yard touchdown run by running back Calvin McCarty took up nearly six minutes of the first quarter.

The Lions tied the score 24-24 when backup quarterback Travis Lulay faked a handoff and bootlegged two yards into a wide open end zone with four and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter. Lulay set his own scoring play up with a 52-yard pass to slotback Geroy Simon at the end of an eight-play, 88-yard drive.

Sunday's exhibition game was a dry run for what will be their regular-season opener on July 4 at Commonwealth Stadium.


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