Down to wire for Eskimos

Saskatchewan Roughriders' quarterback Darian Durant tries to recover after he fumbled the football...

Saskatchewan Roughriders' quarterback Darian Durant tries to recover after he fumbled the football as B.C. Lions Keron Williams moves in to recover during the second half in Vancouver Sunday. The Lions 23-17 win, means the Eskimos' postseason hopes come down to the final weekend of the season. (ANDY CLARK/Reuters)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 PM ET

EDMONTON - The way this season’s been going, the Edmonton Eskimos had to know it would all come down to the wire.

While the surging Eskimos would have secured a playoff berth with a B.C. loss Sunday, the Lions handed the Saskatchewan Roughriders their fourth loss in a row to set up a Week 18 showdown.

The Lions face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in next Saturday’s early game before the Eskimos take on the Roughriders, who will host the West Division semifinal the following week.

A Lions’ loss would mean the Eskimos are in, while earning a single point would force Edmonton into a must-win situation – which is how they’ve approached the last half of the season anyway.

“We still control our own destiny,” Eskimos head coach Richie Hall said after watching Sunday’s game on TSN. “The help that we received was from Winnipeg a couple of weeks ago and we just have to go out there and continue to go forward.

“When you looked at the schedule at the beginning of the season, you knew the games at the end were going to have meaningful results. We said if we get the opportunity, especially over the last five our six weeks to control our own destiny, that’s all we could ask for.’

After all, beggars can’t be choosers. And at 2-9, the Eskimos were in no position to bargain before winning five of their last six beginning in Moncton.

Sunday’s result in Vancouver changes nothing for the Eskimos.

“Our focus is to win out,” Hall said. “We have that opportunity and Saskatchewan has been struggling as of late but they play well at home. It’s a playoff setting for us and it’s going to be a heck of a game but we’re going in with one mindset and that’s to try to return there for Nov. 14.”

The good thing for the Eskimos is they seem to keep improving each week.

“It’s about going forward,” Hall said. “When we beat B.C. a couple of weeks ago, our whole mindset was we have to keep winning to keep going, we have to keep winning to stay in it. That’s no different than Week 18 this time last year.”

In 2009, the Eskimos soundly defeated the Lions 45-13 to secure the third and final playoff spot in the West Division.

X-RAY: QB Ricky Ray’s condition has improved to the point where he is able to throw the football again, warming up with the team prior to Saturday’s game and throwing some more on Sunday.

“He threw (Saturday), he threw (Sunday),” Hall said. “He’s feeling better so hopefully we’ll get a chance to see him practice some this week.

“If he’s healthy enough to play then we’ll play him. If not, then we’ll continue with the same lineup we had last week.”

DE Kai Ellis sat out of Saturday’s game, having only started once in their past six outings.

“Right now, we’re going with (Kenneth) Pettway,” Hall said of the team’s sack leader. “Kai’s healthy enough to play, he’s still nicked a little bit. We look at that decision every week.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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