Week three of the CFL season got underway with the Edmonton Elks (0-2) heading to Vancouver to take on the B.C. Lions (1-1) in their home opener. The Elks came into the game looking to make right on their first two games where their offence was virtually non-existent while the Lions looked to continue playing good football and pick up their second win of the season.
Right out of the gate, Chris Rainey picked up a massive chunk of yards off the kick return, setting the Lions up with instant field position. Immediately, the Lions would take a shot deep to Lucky Whitehead in the endzone, but it would come up incomplete. Second down was another incompletion, but their new kicker, Jimmy Camacho would hit the field goal from 49-yards out to quickly give the Lions a 3-0 lead.
The Elks would get the ball and look to get their offence moving after electing to take the ball on their own 35-yard line. A nice gain by James Wilder Jr., another good gain for Greg Ellingson had things looking good for the Elks. That was until Trevor Harris threw a ball into coverage and it was intercepted by KiAnte Hardin, his second of the season.
The ensuing drive for the Lions wasn’t very good to say the very least. They were aided by a pass interference penalty, but they would still stall out before they were forced to punt. On the punt, they would score a single point on a 69-yard punt single by Stefan Flintoft.
The Elks would come back out and put together a couple of plays on their next drive, however. After Wilder Jr. was tackled in the backfield by Anthony Cioffi, the Elks picked up a couple of yards on a short pass, getting them just into Sean Whyte’s field goal range. He couldn’t have eeked out even an extra inch on this one as the kick hit the crossbar and hopped over to cut the B.C. lead to 4-3.
The quarter would come to a close after a beautiful catch from Bryan Burnham, who is looking like he might be the best receiver in the CFL right now, and a 10-yard run from Michael Reilly. The Lions would decline an illegal contact penalty and head to the second quarter with the ball on the Edmonton 50-yard line, up by a single point.
Second Quarter (EDM: 3 @ BC: 4)
The Lions drive would stall, however. They would once again be forced to punt. Their first attempt at it had them backed up after a holding penalty and forced them to kick again. Had the first kick stood, they would have scored another rouge, but they would definitely rather the second after it stopped up around the five-yard line. After an Elks penalty, they would start with the ball at their own two-yard line.
Penalties continued to be a bit of a trend in this game, however. The Lions bailed the Elks out of trouble by taking an illegal contact penalty. The Elks drive continued after a massive gain to Greg Ellingson and even more penalties on the Lions. The Elks would continue to piece their way down the field before Harris found Mike Jones in the endzone for a touchdown. They finally found the endzone in a time other than garbage time and took the lead in this game 10-4.
Fast forward a couple of drives, the B.C. Lions were backed up to their own endzone. Reilly very nearly threw the ball backwards into his own endzone, but he was lucky to have the play called an incompletion. The Lions gave up a safety instead of punting deep in their own territory, increasing Edmonton’s lead to 12-4. The Lions’ offence has looked quite bad so far in this game, and Reilly has never looked comfortable.
With the football now back in the Elks’ possession with limited time before the halftime bell, they drove down the field piece by piece with Wilder Jr. and Ellingson being keys to the drive for them. The clock was the enemy, however, and they were forced to settle for a field goal. Whyte made the 24-yard attempt on the last play of the half, extending the Elks’ lead at halftime.
Third Quarter (EDM: 15 @ BC: 4)
The second half kicked off much the same way the first half ended, with the Elks gaining yards with relative ease on the Lions’ defence. They weren’t coming on massive plays, but rather small chunks that added up over time. The Lions would get a stop, however, forcing the Elks to take a field goal. The kick was good and the Elks continued to build their lead.
On the ensuing drive, the Lions found some life. It was kicked off by a big gainer on the ground for Shaq Cooper. Just a couple of plays later though, the Lions thought better of trying to sneak for a first down on third and one and brought their kicker out to score some valuable points. Camacho would be good on the 43-yard kick and had a fun celebration to boot.
With momentum seemingly starting to shift the Lions’ way as the crowd started to get back into it, the Lions forced the Elks into a third and short situation. The Elks used Taylor Cornelius for the sneak, but he dropped the ball and didn’t make it to the sticks. Turnover on downs, Lions’ football at the Elks’ 44-yard line. A huge moment in this football game.
Take advantage is exactly what the Lions would do on this drive. They found their way down the field, but penalties for both sides were really the story. Penalties helped the Lions get right now to the goal line, but they took an objectionable conduct penalty that took them 15-yards back. Reilly loaded up and threw it into the endzone looking for Lemar Durant who was fouled by Jonothan Rose for a pass interference call. Reilly would sneak the ball into the endzone for a touchdown on the very next play. The Lions went for two, but it was no good. Elks lead 18-13.
The Elks ended the quarter with some more sizeable gains for good measure, and we headed to the fourth with the Elks holding a five-point lead.
Fourth Quarter (EDM: 18 @ BC: 13)
The first play of the fourth quarter was a blown-up run play on second and short that forced the Elks to try for a field goal. For the first time of the season, Whyte missed the field goal and it was brought out of the endzone by Rainey.
The first play of the Lions’ drive saw them take a deep shot trying to find Whitehead. The ball was intercepted, but pass interference was called and the Lions took the football at the Edmonton 47, a 50-yard penalty. They went deep again on the next play with Reilly finding Durant down at the Edmonton 21-yard line. Just like that, B.C. was nearly in the red zone.
A handoff to Rainey would net the Lions five yards and an obtainable second down situation, but the play never got off the ground for them, and they would send Camacho out for another field goal. He would hit it, but the Lions still trailed by two.
The Elks continued to do what they have done the whole night by picking up yards consistently, but yet again, they would be forced to settle for a field goal. This time, however, they were lucky to do so. T.J. Lee nearly intercepted Harris’ pass on second down but came up a little short. Whyte made the kick to bring the Elks lead back to five points.
Back and forth the drives went, but neither team was able to do much of anything. The Lions’ defence found themselves unable to stop Wilder Jr. when he touched the football. With time running out, the Elks got themselves into field goal range off Wilder Jr.’s back. There was no stop for the Lions and the Elks would waste away the clock to secure the win.
The final score: Edmonton Elks: 21 @ B.C. Lions: 16
Passing Yards: Trevor Harris (EDM): 296
Rushing Yards: James Wilder Jr. (EDM): 127
Receiving Yards: Greg Ellingson (EDM): 148
Touchdowns: Michael Reilly (BC), Mike Jones (EDM): 1
Tackles: Jordan Williams (BC): 10
Special Teams Tackles: Nyles Morgan (BC): 2
Sacks: Jake Ceresna (EDM): 2
Interceptions: KiAnte Hardin (BC): 1
13th Man Sports Player of the Game
POTG: Greg Ellingson
9 receptions, 148 yards