Esks mauled by Lions

Edmonton Eskimos Weldon Brown and B.C. Lions Kierrie Johnson tangle during pre-season action...

Edmonton Eskimos Weldon Brown and B.C. Lions Kierrie Johnson tangle during pre-season action Thursday at Commonwealth Stadium. (AMBER BRACKEN/EDMONTON SUN)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:17 AM ET

While they weren't going to win a championship in the preseason, the Edmonton Eskimos had a chance to at least beat the reigning Grey Cup champions on Thursday.

Except the B.C. Lions were the ones doing the beating, defeating the Eskimos 24-16 in front of 30,891 at Commonwealth Stadium in a rematch of last year's West Division final.

The Lions scored on their first and last possessions of the opening half, with Lulay finding Geroy Simon 15 yards from the end zone three minutes in before wide receiver Kierrie Johnson beat cornerback Rod Williams deep for a 53-yard touchdown with a minute and a half remaining.

Steven Jyles had a less-than stellar first series as Edmonton's QB1, going two-and-out and getting sacked for a six-yard loss by former Eskimos defensive tackle Eric Taylor on his first snap in a game situation.

But Edmonton's defence held on a second-and-one rush by Andrew Harris, forcing a two-and-out on B.C.'s second series, before Burke Dales punted a 66-yard single to put the Eskimos on the board at the midway mark of the first.

While it matched the Eskimos total offensive output the last time they hosted the Lions, in a 36-1 loss last August during Edmonton's worst game of the 2011 season, it was also the lone point Jyles put on the board Thursday, going four-for-seven for 53 yards and rushing twice for 13 more.

Kerry Joseph had more success moving the ball, setting up a 32-yard field goal attempt by Derek Schiavone that was deflected by Lions defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell into the end zone for a single point to trail 7-2

Paul McCallum punted a 42-yard single for B.C. with three minutes to go in the half, before Eskimos running back Hugh Charles made a 32-yard reception over the middle which, combined with extra yards from a horsecollar tackle, set up his own six-yard touchdown run to take a 9-8 lead.

Joseph managed the 75-yard touchdown drive on six plays that took 1:50.

But it was shortlived as Lulay hit Johnson deep to lead 14-9, before fumbling away the two-point conversion attempt.

Eskimos wide receiver Nate Coehoorn threatened with an even longer play, carrying a reception 57 yards toward the end zone before Lions defender Anton MacKenzie forced and recovered the fumble to close out the half.

B.C. jumped ahead 20-9 with a 25-yard touchdown catch by Arland Bruce III to open the third quarter, before Eskimos linebacker Damasco Munoz recovered a bobbled snap on the conversion and carrying the ball back into B.C. territory.

With Joseph's night done after completing six of eight attempts for 133 yards, third-stringer Matt Nichols put together a good looking drive before getting interrupted by back-to-back sacks.

It became the battle of the backups from there on, squaring off against Lions backup quarterback Mike Reilly.

A miscue on special teams saw McCallum boot an 80-yard punt single, which rolled into the end zone after Edmonton had no one back to return, before U of A product Hugh O'Neill made it 24-9 on a 12-yard field goal, before the fans filed out with three minutes to play in an otherwise scoreless fourth quarter.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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