‘This one, I won’t soon forget’: Reilly engineers Esks comeback win over Lions

Mike Reilly added another page to his resume of comeback victories.

The Eskimos quarterback connected with Cory Watson from five yards out in overtime for his second touchdown toss of the night as Edmonton erased a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the B.C. Lions 35-29 on Saturday.

“This one, I won’t soon forget,” said Reilly, who finished 31-of-41 passing for 397 yards, and also ran in two more scores. “I’ve still got to take it all in.

“I still haven’t been able to process it.”

Adarius Bowman caught nine passes for 136 yards and a TD for Edmonton (10-6), while Swayze Waters was 1 for 2 on field goals.

Reilly also led the Eskimos to a 30-27 come-from-behind win over the Toronto Argonauts last weekend to clinch a playoff spot.

“He doesn’t get phased by anything,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “He’s unflappable. In crunch times he just seems to play better.”

Edmonton fought back from a 29-13 deficit with six minutes to go to force OT and, combined with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ 29-28 loss in Toronto earlier Saturday, still has a chance to finish second in the West Division and secure a home playoff date.

“Our guys knew what the situation was,” said Reilly, whose team needs to sweep its final two games and have Winnipeg lose its two remaining contests in order to jump past the Bombers. “To be quite honest we don’t really talk about that.

“We talk about it being all about us.”

Jonathon Jennings was 25-of-31 for 212 yards with a touchdown to Bryan Burnham for B.C. (6-10), while long snapper Mike Benson, on a fumble recovery, and backup quarterback Alex Ross, on a one-yard plunge, had the Lions’ other TDs. Ty Long was perfect on his two field-goal attempts.

“It’s just tough,” said Jennings. “We preach finishing strong. Nothing else mattered. We just wanted to finish.

“It’s upsetting.”

With their playoff hopes already hanging by a thread following four straight losses and defeats in seven of their last eight heading into the weekend, the Lions were officially eliminated from playoff contention Friday when the Saskatchewan Roughriders picked up a 30-7 upset victory on the road over the first-place Calgary Stampeders.

After rallying to tie the score Saturday, the Eskimos got the ball to start the extra period, with Reilly finding Watson from five yards out. The two-point conversion failed, but Edmonton’s defence held firm, forcing a three-and-out from the Lions to secure the victory.

“We stepped up when we needed to step up,” said Maas. “Our defence played strong all game. Offensively and special teams, when we needed to have something happen, we made it happen.”

Following a 47-yard Long field goal that gave B.C. a 15-12 lead in the third quarter, the Lions were forced to punt on their next possession.

Long’s towering boot was bobbled by Edmonton’s Brandon Zylstra at his own six, and as players fought for possession, the ball squirted loose to Benson, who ran it in for the first touchdown of his career to make the score 22-12.

The Eskimos got to within nine with 10 minutes left in the fourth when Waters, who was cut by B.C. in July, missed a 41-yard field goal.

The Lions then drove the ball down the field on their next possession, with Jennings finding Burnham from four yards out to make it 29-13.

But the game was far from over.

Reilly ran in his second TD with four minutes to go after a 47-yard completion to Derel Walker before finding Bowman on the two-point conversion to make it 29-21.

The Eskimos got the ball back at their own 21 with 1:51 left and Reilly connected with Bowman with 36 seconds remaining from 20 yards out before Zylstra caught the two-point convert to tie the score 29-29 and send the game to overtime.

“I’ve been in the CFL too long to know the game’s not over in the first quarter,” said Maas, whose team led 12-0 through 15 minutes. “And I’ve also been here long enough to know in the fourth quarter when you’re down two scores, it ain’t over either.

“It was a great CFL game.”

Notes: Lions wide receiver Marco Iannuzzi announced via Twitter prior to kickoff that he plans to retire at the end of the season. … The Eskimos wrap up their schedule at home against Calgary before travelling to Saskatchewan. … The Lions visit Winnipeg and host Toronto.

– CP