EDMONTON - For the second week in a row, the Edmonton Eskimos took an 8-0 lead over their opponent.
While the end result was another loss, the difference this time, at least, was they didn’t stop playing.
On Saturday, in front of an announced attendance of 35,578 at Commonwealth Stadium, the Eskimos followed up a 51-8 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, with a 19-18 loss to the B.C. Lions.
A week after getting embarrassed by an opponent on a five-game losing skid, the Eskimos showed they have what it takes to play with the league’s top team and defending Grey Cup champions.
In the end, however, it was Edmonton’s third one-point loss of the season, their fourth loss in a row and their third-consecutive one at home.
“There are no consolatory victories in football, there are wins and losses,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “And we’ve lost four in a row.”
Dropping them to 5-7 on a season that is now two-thirds into the books.
Trailing 16-15 with five minutes to go, Jyles found slotback Cary Koch 47 yards for a between-the-legs catch down the sidelines to set up a 40-yard field-goal attempt by Grant Shaw.
After missing two potential game-winners in the Labour Day series, Shaw earned a measure of redemption by putting the Eskimos ahead 18-16 with under three minutes remaining.
Instead, it was Paul McCallum knocking in the winner from 46 yards out to secure the victory for B.C.
“We came out with a lot of misdirection stuff and we didn’t sustain the misdirection game in the second half,” said Reed, who had a 15-9 lead coming into the third quarter. “Our stagnation on offence was the fact that we did a very good job of moving the ball through misdirections, and we didn’t do that well in the second half.”
Which is obvious in comparing Steven Jyles’s first-half numbers: 12-of-14 for 159 yards and a touchdown to 5-of-13 for 63 yards and an interception.
In the backfield, Hugh Charles’s 33 yards and a touchdown all came from six first-half carries, while Jerome Messam was a healthy scratch in favour of Cory Boyd — who averaged 3.8 yards on six carries.
“We got off to a good start in the first half,” said Jyles, who scored his first touchdown since a loss to Montreal on Aug. 17 and made his first start since Aug. 27 due to a calf injury. “It was just little things, little mistakes, but we still had a chance at the end.”
The lone point scored in the first quarter came off the foot of Grant Shaw, who punted a 71-yard punt single before Jyles hit Koch on a 27-yard connection for the same 8-0 lead they got off to in Hamilton.
He then connected with wide receiver Nate Coehoorn on a 32-yard pass and run before Charles plunged in a touchdown from four yards out to lead 15-3.
McCallum hit his first three field-goal attempts to trail by six at halftime, before ending the night 4-for-6 including the game winner.
After completing 12-straight passes in the first half, Jyles looked for wide-out Shamawd Chambers in a crowd of defenders and was intercepted by middle linebacker Adam Bighill.
But Edmonton took the turnover back when Weldon Brown stripped wide receiver Kerrie Johnson of the ball to start the fourth quarter.
But Andrew Harris came up with a 49-yard rush to set the Lions up in the red zone, before Travis Lulay extended his streak to 23 consecutive games with a passing touchdown.
He hit Geroy Simon on a six-yard toss to lead 16-15 on the veteran slotback’s 100th career TD and first of the season.
Lulay finished 26-of-39 for 260 yards and the major, improving his team to a CFL best 9-3, while the Eskimos fall to 5-7.