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CFL Preview - Edmonton (2-1) at British Columbia (2-1)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, July 20, 10:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Two teams fighting for sole possession of second place in the CFL's West Division get together on Friday night, as the Edmonton Eskimos pay a visit to the Lions of British Columbia at BC Place.

British Columbia, the reigning Grey Cup Champions, plans on leaving the roof open for this weekend's tilt given the favorable forecast as it attempts to stay perfect at home following two wins in as many tries at BC Place here in 2012.

Last week, the Lions hit the road for the first time this season and came up a bit short in a 23-20 setback to Saskatchewan. BC ran just two more offensive plays than the Roughriders, yet came up with 460 yards of total offense, compared to just 266 for the hosts.

The bigger issue for the Lions was quarterback Travis Lulay who, in spite of completing 23-of-40 passes for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns and also led the squad in rushing with 58 yards on three carries, tossed a couple of costly interceptions.

Geroy Simon led all receivers with six catches for 75 yards, but again was held out of the end zone which is becoming a disturbing trend for the league's all-time leading receiver. Instead, it was Kierrie Johnson and Marco Iannuzzi who posted majors on receptions, they measuring 69 and 8 yards, respectively.

Where the Lions dropped the ball so-to-speak, was when they allowed Tristan Jackson to reel in a missed field goal, set up his blockers and race an incredible 129 yards to the other end zone for what proved to be the game- winning score in the fourth quarter.

As for the Eskimos, they looked like world-beaters last Friday as they generated a hefty 35-0 halftime lead at home against Winnipeg, and eventually cruised to the 42-10 final so they too could move to 2-1 on the young season.

Defense and special teams carried Edmonton in the early going, as Clint Kent returned a fumble 29 yards for a touchdown to open the game's scoring in the first frame, and then T.J. Hill intercepted a ball and brought it back 32 yards for a score. Kicker Grant Shaw piled on with a couple of field goals and a single, finishing the meeting with 12 points overall.

Starting quarterback Steven Jyles hit 15-of-27 passes for 272 yards and a score, but he also tossed a pair of picks before taking a seat on the bench. Backup Kerry Joseph made the most of his three pass attempts, with all going to an Edmonton receiver and two finishing in the end zone.

Late in the first half, Joseph found Shamawd Chambers on a four-yard TD strike to cap an eight-play, 97-yard drive which took less than two minutes to complete. In the fourth period, Joseph and Hugh Charles hooked up on a 76-yard TD to complete the game's scoring.

Charles finished the meeting with three receptions for 145 yards and was also first on the team in rushing with 51 yards on 14 carries, which kept the Winnipeg defense constantly guessing.

In addition to scoring a pair of TDs, the defense for the Eskimos also knocked out quarterbacks Buck Pierce and Alex Brink with injuries. During desperation time, the unit was exposed a bit by third-string QB Joey Elliott, but by then the outcome had already been decided.

Edmonton, which on defense has been led by linebacker JC Sherritt who paces the entire league in tackles with 24, has been getting away with a sub par passing attack which is last in the CFL with a completion percentage of only .563. Jyles, who has taken over for the departed Ricky Ray, has hit on just 56.1 percent of his attempts, and has only one passing score thus far -- the fewest among active starters in the league.

Oddly enough, the Lions are second-to-last in total passing yards with just 756, only slightly better than Edmonton which has generated 744 yards over three games in a pass-happy league. Lulay has produced five passing scores, but his accuracy is also in question at just 59.4 percent.

Dating back to 1954 and taking into consideration only regular season meetings, Edmonton owns a 102-71-4 advantage in the all-time series with BC. However, the Lions won the most recent matchup, 29-20, last October which means they've taken three in a row from the Esks.

Chances are the Eskimos don't have another defensive gem ready to go on the road this week, but one never really knows in the CFL. BC will enjoy the support of the hometown crowd and a consistent offense that is capable of playing just well enough to win.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 28, Edmonton 19

07/18 10:52:56 ET

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