Pressure pays off for Esks

Edmonton Eskimos' Kelly Campbell catches a pass for a touchdown against B.C. Lions.   (REUTERS/Dan...

Edmonton Eskimos' Kelly Campbell catches a pass for a touchdown against B.C. Lions. (REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:56 PM ET

EDMONTON - Down by three points with a minute remaining, the B.C. Lions had just breached Edmonton Eskimos territory and were within field-goal range.

But instead of tying the game, the Lions fell victim to pressure from Edmonton’s front seven, culminating with Travis Lulay getting sacked and fumbling the ball — and the game — away.

The play marked defensive end Kenneth Pettway’s second forced fumble and second sack of the game, while Kai Ellis fell on the loose ball 25 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

“They were throwing a lot of quick passes from the beginning of the drive, so we kind of figured that they were trying to get into field-goal range,” said Pettway, a former Green Bay Packer. “So we knew we needed to get a play in and the coach called a blitz out of our package — one that’s been real good to us throughout the season.

“We went out there and I beat my man and luckily met (linebacker) Rod (Davis) there, and the quarterback had the ball up above his head, so I had a chance to knock it out and Kai made a smart play of covering it up instead of picking it up and runnning, and it ended the game.”

Officially, the game ended with Ricky Ray taking a knee, but the defensive play allowed it to happen.

“With everybody doing the play right, it allowed me to get one-on-one with the guy and luckily it came my way and I had a chance to knock it out,” Pettway said.

“It was great and it was about time. I needed to turn the pass-rush on and get out there. Hopefully I can keep it going.”

Eskimos defensive line coach Mike Walker hopes so, too.

“Rod brought the pressure and Pettway came and brought the pressure and Kai was up-field also. If Kai was feeling any fresher, I think he would have scooped that up and scored,” Walker said. “We couldn’t have got a bigger play at the time we needed it most.

“It’s been a long time (coming) ... what a great feeling and I knew once we got that ball back we had the chance to seal it right there.”

It was a rare instance in an otherwise forgettable start to the season. Edmonton’s offence and defence were both clicking to come away with a 28-25 victory.

“Our backs were against the wall,” said Eskimos defensive back Chris Thompson, who had a pair of interceptions in the game.

“The defence said we’ve got to step up right now and make a play.”

The pressure the defensive line was able to put on will only get ramped up as the reworked defensive line plays more games together.

With Adam Braidwood and Dario Romero bookended by Ellis and Pettway, the Eskimos have finally found the right formula to put pressure on opposition quarterbacks.

“I think it’s going to get better with those two hogs inside, and we get our guys outside going and Ken keeps getting used to the defence and the CFL, he’ll come around and it will be the front four I’ve been looking for,” Walker said.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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