Buck Pierce came off the bench to throw three touchdowns and run in another score Friday as the B.C. Lions thumped the Edmonton Eskimos 43-29 to snap a three-game losing streak and gain some much-needed confidence.
Pierce replaced the ineffective Thomas DeMarco at the start of the second quarter and connected on two short TDs to Andrew Harris and a long bomb to Emmanuel Arceneaux for the Lions (10-7), who were already locked into the third seed in the CFL's West Division playoff picture coming into the game.
With one game to still go in the regular season, B.C. will visit either the Saskatchewan Roughriders or the Calgary Stampeders in semifinal round on Nov. 10.
Pierce and Stefan Logan, who became the first B.C. player to rush for more than 100 yards since late July, ran in the Lions' other two touchdowns. Arceneaux also caught another late TD.
Mike Reilly, who signed with the Eskimos in the off-season after three years with B.C. as a backup, threw two TDs to Adarius Bowman but was also intercepted twice for the Eskimos (3-14). Bowman finished with six catches for 199 yards. Backup quarterback Jonathan Crompton ran in another late score.
Former Lions kicker Hugh O'Neill finished 2 for 2 on field goals as the Eskimos dropped their fifth straight game.
Tied 15-15 early in the third quarter, Pierce threw his second TD of the night on B.C.'s first possession, hooking up with Arceneaux on a 43-yard strike.
The Lions got the ball back at midfield later in the quarter and were aided by a pass interference call to set up a short TD pass to Harris, his second of the night to make it 29-15.
B.C. defensive back Cord Parks then intercepted Reilly in Edmonton territory early in the fourth quarter to set up a Pierce's two-yard plunge.
Reilly led the Eskimos down the field and hooked up with Bowman from 14 yards out for his second TD of the night midway through the quarter
DeMarco re-entered the game for the Lions as Pierce took a much deserved break on the sidelines late and threw a four-yard touchdown to Arceneaux to complete the rout at 43-22.
Crompton then dove into the end zone with under a minute to go for Edmonton to round out the scoring.
Re-acquired by the Lions last month from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Pierce entered the game at the start of the second quarter with B.C. trailing 12-1 after conceding a safety.
The 31-year-old, who played for the Lions between 2005 and 2009, didn't fare much better than DeMarco early, but eventually got going after the B.C. defence stepped up.
Lions defensive back J.R. Larose picked off a short pass from Reilly that went through Bowman's hands for his first career interception to set B.C. up at the Edmonton 54. Logan scored on the very next play, taking a handoff and running right before reversing his field and picking up a key block from Pierce down the left sideline to make it 12-8.
Calm under pressure
Reilly hooked up with Bowman on a 45-yard pass to set up a short O'Neill field goal, but Pierce and the Lions' offence found its groove once B.C got the ball back.
The veteran pivot was calm under pressure and marched his team down the field before finding Harris with a shovel pass from eight yards out to tie the score 15-15.
DeMarco got his sixth straight start in place of injured No. 1 quarterback Travis Lulay, but did nothing for a stagnant Lions offence in the first quarter, completing just 2-of-6 passes for 11 yards.
Lulay has been out since suffering an injury to his throwing shoulder on Sept. 15 against the Montreal Alouettes. He was originally expected to miss just two weeks, but there's still no timetable for his return.
Many in the crowd at B.C. Place Stadium were still getting to their seats when Reilly hit Bowman for a 71-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. O'Neill then kicked in a field goal from 23 yards out later in the quarter to make it 10-0 for the visitors.
The Lions talked all week about using their final two regular season game to get back on track ahead of the playoffs, but their offence was anything but fluid early under DeMarco, with the only first down of the opening quarter coming with less than four minutes to play.
That drive stalled and the Lions were forced to punt, with Paul McCallum booting into the Edmonton end zone for a single point that drew a Bronx cheer from the crowd.