Lions come out roaring in second half, maul Eskimos to win 31-23

Travon Van’s eight-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter staked the B.C. Lions to a comeback 31-23 win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday night.

The Lions (3-4) ended their losing skid at two games while handing the Eskimos (5-3) their first loss in four outings.

Van made his first start at running back in place of the injured Jeremiah Johnson. His touchdown gave the Lions an insurmountable 27-20 lead.

It came came one play after defensive lineman Otha Foster forced Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly to fumble and then recovered the ball himself.

B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay surpassed 20,000 passing yards for his career as he completed 16 of 29 passes, including one for an eight-yard touchdown toss to Kevin Elliott.

The Lions’ other points came on Chris Rainey’s 79-yard punt return and three field goals, including a career-best 51-yarder, two converts and two punt singles from Long.

Reilly threw two touchdown passes and ran for one score himself.

Nate Behar and Derrel Walker caught Reilly’s touchdown passes. Edmonton’s other points came from kicker Sean Whyte.

The Eskimos started by moving up the field with ease, following Jamill Smith’s opening kick-off return to the B.C. 39-yard line. Reilly opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Behar before the game was four and half minutes old.

The Lions got on the scoreboard with 51 seconds left in the first quarter as Long booted a 25-yard field goal. The three-pointer came shortly after Emmanuel Arceneaux caught a shovel pass from Lulay on a reverse play and picked up 39 yards. With the catch, Arceneaux extended his reception streak to 109 games.

Edmonton’s successful fake field-goal attempt led to a Reilly one-yard touchdown plunge early in the second quarter. The TD came four plays after backup quarterback Danny O’Brien passed to Almondo Sewell, usually a lineman, for a 16-yard gain off the fake field goal. Whyte’s 32-yard convert gave the Eskimos a 14-3 lead.

READ MORE: Eskimos visit Lions Thursday aiming for fourth straight win

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Eskimos in 2018.

But a little while later, Rainey returned a punt 79 yards for a B.C. touchdown. After scoring, Rainey climbed some stairs to the stands and presented the ball to his wife Jenn Hillenburg, who had their young children Makari and Makynli in tow. Long’s single-point conversion reduced Edmonton’s lead to 14-10.

It looked like the Lions were going to take the lead when Lulay threw a 14-yard touchdown strike to Bryan Burnham. But the TD was nullified by a holding penalty.

On the next play, Korey Jones intercepted a Lulay pass and took the ball 70 yards the other way. Lulay prevented a touchdown with a desperate diving tackle, but his heroics were short-lived. Reilly threw a 15-yard TD pass to Walker on the very next play, and Whyte’s missed convert left the Eskimos with a 20-10 half-time lead.

Game notes:

-The Eskimos ended their recent habit of trailing after the first quarter. They had trailed in four straight games without enjoying a lead after the first quarter.

-Reilly now has a league-leading 16 touchdown passes on the season. Lulay surpassed the 20,000-yard passing mark for his career late in the third quarter.

-The Lions posted their first home win over the Eskimos since October 22, 2016. Prior to Thursday, the Eskimos had won five straight games at B.C. Place.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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