Keon Hatcher, James Butler and Antonio Pipkin all recorded touchdowns as the visiting B.C. Lions secured a home playoff date with a 31-14 victory over the Edmonton Elks on Friday.
The Lions, now 12-5, will finish second in the CFL’s West Division, earning the right to host their first playoff game since 2016 and just their second since 2012.
The horrific home disadvantage streak of losses for the Elks (4-14) will carry into the off-season. Edmonton has now lost a CFL record 17 consecutive games at home going back to 2019.
The Elks couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game as Mike Dubuisson recovered a Lions’ fumble on the opening kickoff. Rookie Canadian quarterback Tre Ford was then able to connect on a seven-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Mitchell with the game just over two minutes old.
The Lions matched that midway through the first on a subsequent long drive, capped off by a seven-yard TD toss from Vernon Adams Jr. to Hatcher.
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B.C. started the second quarter with a 35-yard Sean Whyte field goal.
The Leos made it 17-7 with 5 1/2 minutes to play in the second on a three-yard rushing major from Butler.
An errant Ford pass was returned 40 yards by Marcus Sayles, leading to a one-yard keeper by backup QB Pipkin.
Edmonton got back into the game early in the third quarter as Donovan Olumba picked off an Adams pass and brought it back 54 yards, eventually leading to a one-yard plunge by backup Kai Locksley.
The Lions responded with a punt single and 36- and 37-yard Whyte field goals coming off a pair of fumble recoveries to make it 31-14 to start the fourth.
The Elks’ last home victory was actually against the Lions, coming on Oct. 12, 2019, a game in which former Edmonton starter turned B.C. quarterback Mike Reilly left midway through the first quarter with a broken wrist. The Lions would ended up losing 19-6 and missed the playoffs. It was the last time B.C. played in Edmonton previous to Saturday’s game. Edmonton’s losing streak at home was sitting at 1,105 days — three years and nine days — coming into the contest. … The Lions came into the game with a shameful streak of their own on the line, having gone eight games without a victory at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, a run extending back to July 13, 2013, when they won 17-3. … B.C. handily won both games between the two squads in Vancouver this season by 59-15 and 46-14 scores. … Both teams were without their usual starting quarterbacks as Elks pivot Taylor Cornelius was out after being hospitalized with a spleen injury coming off their last game. Lions QB Nathan Rourke (foot) is practising and is expected back next week. Ford made his first start for Edmonton since suffering a collarbone injury in Week 5.
The Lions close out regular-season play in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers next Friday. The Elks are technically on a bye week, but will have already dispersed home for the year as they are out of playoff contention.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press