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It had the look and feel of the first pre-season tune-up of 2019. The good news for your BC Lions after a 22-7 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday afternoon? That’s all it was and they know they have to learn from it.
Backup quarterback Logan Kilgore scored on a one-yard sneak and found Tevaun Smith for another major in the 3rd quarter and that is all the hometown Eskimos needed on this day.
The Lions’ offence didn’t get the start they wanted when quarterback Ricky Lloyd was intercepted by Don Unamba on the first play from scrimmage. A stout Lions’ defence was able to hold Edmonton to a 20-yard field goal from Shaun Whyte. For head coach DeVone Claybrooks, it was one of a few instances where his defence did their part and held the opponent to limited damage.
“You don’t ever lose, you either win or you learn,” said Claybrooks after his first ever head coaching assignment.
“I have a great feeling that we’re going to be very bold defensively and very well offensively. We understand we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with and that was just a step in the direction to get to where we want to get to. The guys were flying around and executing their calls at a high level. That’s all you can really ask for. As long as we continue to do that, I have full faith that we’re going to continue to get better, continue and continue to build.”
The only points for the visitors came off a 63-yard punt return touchdown by Shakeir Ryan which gave them a 7-3 lead in the second quarter. At the end of the day, lack of production on offence is what did them in with Lloyd, Austin Apodaca and Cole Sears combining for only 13 completions and 125 passing yards.
Still, a good learning experience for Ryan and the rest of the offence.
“I feel like we just got to come out and execute,” he said.
“For the coaches, it was a simple and good offensive game plan and I feel like for a lot of us it was our first time (playing a game) in Canada, first professional football game and guys might have been nervous and stuff like that. Guys just got to come out and execute and I feel like that’s the only thing. Coaches put us in a good situation.”
Ryan’s return not only got the squad fired up but gave observers a glimpse of what could be in store for the Lions’ special teams this season. A nice feather in the cap for the speedster who appeared in one game last season after being added to the roster in September.
“Honestly, it was a great bounce,” chuckled Ryan who also hauled in a pair of receptions for 26 yards.
“I was going to run up and catch it, then it bounced to the left so all of the return team went to the left. It was all part of God’s plan. Now I have to do it again versus Calgary. Week to week I’ve got to get better.”
That will be the theme of this one. Not the result they wanted but now it will be about embracing what should be an intense final stretch of camp. That’s especially true on offence.
“The offence is called a unit for a reason,” added Claybrooks.
“If one string out of that unit is off key, the tune doesn’t carry, right? All in all, it was just over and over the exact same thing. We just have to be more consistent.”
204- the Lions’ total offence on an afternoon where they struggled to put long drives together.
3- turnovers forced by the defence, all of them coming on 3rd down gambles by the Eskimos. An interception by Josh Woodman in the second half was nullified by a penalty.
5- the number of quarterback sacks for each of these squads.
54- rushing yards for 2019 draft pick Jamel Lyles, which led all ball carriers in this one.
45- receiving yards for Langley Rams product Jevon Cottoy to lead all players.
The impressive defensive effort is extra key when considering they were facing Trevor Harris, Greg Ellingson and the rest of Edmonton’s starting offence in the opening quarter.
Ebo Ogundeko and Edward Godin- three sacks combined- were among the standouts on the defensive line. Other notables on that side of the ball included Steffon Herd, Dom Termansen, Victor Gamboa and Marloshawn Franklin.
Lyles may have made the running backs discussion a bit more interesting this week after averaging nine yards per rush.
The sideline was livid after a questionable pass interference call led to Edmonton’s first touchdown of the game. We can’t say we blame them. However, excuses will not be made.
Running back Shawn Wick is expected to be okay after being taken to hospital as a precaution with a neck/head injury suffered in the 4th quarter.