B.C. 40 Edmonton 23
VANCOUVER — The B.C. Lions will get a chance to win the Grey Cup at home.
An interception by defensive back Korey Banks helped the Lions score two touchdowns in 2:26 of the second quarter as B.C. rolled over the Edmonton Eskimos 40-23 in the CFL West Final on Sunday.
Quarterback Travis Lulay shredded the Eskimo defence, throwing for 313 yards, a pair of touchdown passes and scoring on a 61-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“This is huge,” said Lulay. “This is the pinnacle of what we do — having an opportunity to play in the Grey Cup game.
“We kept knocking on the door offensively. The defence played lights out and kept giving us opportunities.”
Lulay hit slotback Geroy Simon on a 53-yard touchdown and tossed a 14-yard strike to running back Andrew Harris as the Lions broke open a close game with 20 points in the second quarter.
The Lions, who looked headed for disaster when they started the season 0-5, will face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in next weekend’s Grey Cup game at BC Place Stadium. The Bombers defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 19-3 in the East Final.
Harris also scored on a 13-yard run, bringing a roar from a loud, horn-blowing crowd of 41,313 at BC Place. Simon finished with over 100 yards receiving.
A ferocious Lions defence unloaded some body-bruising hits and didn’t allow an Edmonton touchdown until the fourth quarter. B.C. scored 21 points off turnovers.
“Their execution was better than ours,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “They took care of the football, they didn’t commit the penalties that we committed. They deserve what they got.”
Early in the third quarter Edmonton’s Chris Thompson intercepted a Lulay pass and returned it to the B.C. 11-yard line.
Any thoughts Edmonton had of getting back in the game were dashed when defensive back Anthony Reddick sacked Eskimo quarterback Ricky Ray, forcing a fumble which linebacker Solomon Elimimian pounced on.
That set up Harris’s second touchdown.
Ray threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Jason Barnes and 19 yards to Fred Stamps.
It was a long afternoon for Ray who was sacked twice, threw three interceptions and was forced to hurry many throws. Ray was guilty of missing a couple of open receivers and saw some catchable balls dropped.
The Eskimos also hurt themselves tacking several needless major penalties.
Edmonton was flagged for 12 penalties for 80 yards with 63 penalty yards coming in the first half.
“I felt that our guys played with a lot of passion,” said Reed. “When you’re playing on the edge like that emotions sometimes are going to run very high.
“We were able to calm that and those guys fought to the very end. I think that B.C. just executed better.”
B.C. kicker Paul McCallum was good on field goals of 44, 42, 31 and 17 yards.
Derek Schiavone kicked field goals of 40, 32 and 21 yards for Edmonton.
The game was 6-3 for the Lions midway through the second quarter when Lulay sailed a long pass to Simon. The sure-handed veteran got behind cornerback Jykine Bradley, hauled in the ball, then ran to the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.
On the next series Ray almost had a pass picked off by B.C. halfback Tad Kornegay. On the next play Ray tried to find Stamps but Banks intercepted and ran the ball 46 yards to the Edmonton 10-yard line.
The Lions went ahead 20-3 when Lulay found Harris in the flat. Edmonton linebacker Rod Davis missed a tackle, allowing Harris to score.
The Lions are the first team since the 2008 Montreal Alouettes to play a Grey Cup at home. The last team to win a Grey Cup on its home field was the 1994 Lions who beat Baltimore 26-23.
It was only the second time in seven meetings that B.C. beat Edmonton in the West Final. It was also the first time in three games the Lions won at home.
The two teams took different routes to the playoffs. The Lions were 1-6 before winning 10 of their last 11 games to finish first in the West.
The Eskimos, who missed the playoffs last year, started 5-0 but struggled through a 3-6 stretch midway through the season before finishing second in the West.
Edmonton advanced to their first West Final in six years with a 33-19 win over the Calgary Stampeders last week at Commonwealth Stadium. Canadian running back Jerome Messam, who rushed for over 1,000 yards this year, hurt his knee in that game and didn’t play in Vancouver.
The Lions, Eskimos and Stampeders all finished with 11-7 records. B.C. was given the higher seed because of their better record against the other two teams.
NOTES: The Lions wore the letter DR on their helmets in memory of Dylan Reichelt, the 18-year-old son of veteran trainer Bill Reichelt who died in a recent car accident. …Lulay’s 61-yard touchdown set a Lions franchise record for the longest run for a touchdown in the playoffs. …The Lions hosted the West Final for the 12th time in franchise history and the fifth time in eight years. …B.C. players spent Saturday night at a local hotel. …The Lions offensive line gave up just eight sacks in the last half of the season.