Canadian Football League

Monday, November 21, 2005

Eskimos are Canadian Football League West Champs

Backup quarterback Jason Maas vented his anger on the B.C. Lions Sunday, coming off the bench to throw the go-ahead touchdown in a 28-23 victory in the CFL West final that led the Edmonton Eskimos to next week's Grey Cup.
Maas hit wide receiver Trevor Gaylor with a 15-yard touchdown strike with 5:23 remaining in the game as the Eskimos teetered near disaster after blowing an 18-point lead. It was the second consecutive week Maas had to replace starter Ricky Ray to keep the Eskimo's season alive.
He started the second half in last week's 33-26 come-from-behind win over Calgary in the West semifinal.
"I told the guys when I went in I'm tired of doing this but we have to get it done," said Maas, yelling to be heard in a jubilant Eskimos dressing room. "I'm thankful we did."
Maas, who celebrated his 30th birthday Saturday, said he was angry with coach Danny Maciocia's decision to replace Ray. He also was frustrated the Lions had stormed back from a 21-3 deficit to tie the game 21-21.
"I play well when I'm in a rage," said Maas, who completed four of six passes for 47 yards and the touchdown.
"I told everyone on the offensive line they had to give me enough time to throw. I looked at every one of the receivers and said they had to make plays for me. After (the touchdown) I told the defence, 'it's your time to shine."'
The Eskimos will play the Montreal Alouettes in next week's Grey Cup game in Vancouver. Montreal defeated the Toronto Argonauts 33-17 in the East Division final.
Maciocia didn't waste any time saying Ray will start against Montreal. That didn't bother Maas.
"We won two playoff games with me coming off the bench," he said. "If we win a third one I'll be just as happy."
The winning drive was set up when Edmonton linebacker Steven Marsh intercepted a Dave Dickenson pass on the B.C. 49-yard line. It was only the sixth interception Dickenson has thrown all year and it sent a loud crowd of 37,337 at B.C. Place Stadium home disappointed.
"I wasn't as sharp as I've been in other games," said Dickenson, who completed 18 of 31 passes for 256 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
"It wasn't my best game. In big games you want to play your best. I didn't do it."
It was a miserable end for a season that saw the Lions win their first 11 games then lose seven of their last eight.
"When it was done we came up short," said Wally Buono, the Lions coach and general manager. "There were opportunities there. We missed a few opportunities, dropped a few balls. Those are very critical things in big games."
Lions backup quarterback Casey Printers mounted a last-gasp rally but his final pass into the end zone sailed over wide receiver Geroy Simon's head.
Printers walked off the field with tears in his eyes.
Edmonton will return to the Grey Cup for the first time since 2003, when they defeated Montreal 34-22.
The Eskimos used a pair of one-yard touchdown runs by Ray to build a 21-3 lead.
The Lions stormed back to tie the game. B.C. scored 10 points off turnovers, including an interception when a Ray pass bounced off Gaylor's shoulder pads and a recovery of a Ray fumble.
While Maas fielded reporters' questions Ray sat quietly at his locker.
"It was tough," he said about being pulled with the game tied.
"I wanted to be in there. Danny made the decision and once again Jason came in and got a big win for us. I felt like I could have been in there and won it (but) Jason did another great job. We're going to the Grey Cup."
Ray finished the night completing 17 of 28 passes for 207 yards. He hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in the last seven games.
Dickenson made some Lions history, throwing a 90-yard touchdown pass to Simon. It was the longest scoring play in B.C. playoff history.
Printers, replacing Dickenson on short-yardage situations, also scored on a one-yard run.
Sean Fleming kicked field goals of 45 and 25 yards and added a 44-yard single for Edmonton.
Mark McLoughlin, who was questionable for the game because of a partially torn hamstring in his right kicking leg, kicked field goals of 42 and 28 yards for the Lions.
Punter Duncan O'Mahony added a 50-yard single.
Derrell Mitchell also conceded a safety.
Some first half penalties hurt the Lions. Edmonton's first touchdown came after the Lions were twice called for pass interference on the same drive.
"The pass interference calls were really hurtful," said Buono. "We haven't been called for pass interference all year."
The Eskimos finished the regular season 11-7. They had a chance to clinch first in the West in the final game of the season but lost 43-23 loss to Calgary.
"Everyone doubted us," said defensive end Joe Montford, who had one of Edmonton's three sacks.
"Now we have one game to go."
Notes: The last time the Lions hosted a West final with a chance to advance to a Grey Cup in Vancouver, they lost 31-7 to the Eskimos in 1987 ... The Lions and Eskimos have met 12 times in the playoffs with Edmonton winning nine times, including three games in Vancouver ... The Lions had won three of the last five playoff games with Edmonton after going 34 years without a victory over the Eskimos.


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