EDMONTON — Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Edmonton Elks.
Dane Evans completed a pair of touchdown passes as the B.C. Lions defeated Edmonton 27-0 on Saturday, helping the Elks take sole possession of the worst run of home losses in North American professional sports history.
Unbelievably, it was the second time this year that the Lions have blanked the Elks, also doing so in the second week of the season, when they won 22-0 in Vancouver. Before that Edmonton had not been shutout in a game since 1976.
“It is unreal,” Evans said of keeping the Elks off the scoreboard completely. “That is hard to do in the NFL, but here, all you have to do is kick it into the end zone to get one point. To do it twice is pretty special.”
“It is pretty unique,” echoed Lions head coach and co-general manager Rick Campbell. “Getting a shutout, that is not even part of our mindset going into a game. You are just trying to win the game, but it worked out to be two shutouts. I’ve never been a part of something like that before.”
The Lions improved to 6-1 and took over lone ownership of first place in the West Division.
“I was proud that they played for a full 60 minutes on all three phases,” Campbell said. “Obviously the defence stands out because it was a shutout, but that is a function of not just our defence, but also our offence and special teams.”
Edmonton dropped to 0-8, the worst start in franchise history.
The home hex continues for the Elks, who have lost a CFL-record 21 consecutive home games, a string of futility stretching back to Oct. 12, 2019.
The loss surpassed the longest run of consecutive home losses held by Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Browns, who lost 20 straight in 1953 before becoming the Baltimore Orioles the following season.
“It's an oddity to me to not be able to play good football and, secondly, not to be able to play good football at home," Elks head coach Chris Jones said. "That's strange to me."
Edmonton has also lost 12 straight games overall.
“(Frustration) is at an all-time high right now,” said Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius. “The first half, we get behind the sticks with penalties, it seemed like every drive it was something. And then to come out in the second half and still not put up any points for a second game in a row against these guys is just crazy, man."
Edmonton took 13 penalties for 177 yards.
The Lions had strong drives on their first two possessions, but were forced to settle for field goals on both, with Shaun Whyte striking from 26 and 16 yards.
Veteran quarterback Evans, starting in place of Vernon Adams Jr. who served as the third string as he rests an aching knee, finally found the end zone with five minutes to play in the second quarter as he hit Justin McInnis with a 23-yard pass for a touchdown.
Evans completed 25 of 32 passes for 330 yards on the night.
“When we had the opportunity to trade for him, I remember that day, it was a no-brainer for us to get a guy like that,” Campbell said. “He is a good football player who has won a lot of games.
"I also appreciate that he has been such a good teammate and is such a good person and I like when good people and good teammates have success on the field, it is good to see.”
Whyte added a late 41-yard field goal to put B.C. up 16-0 at the half.
The Lions extended their lead four minutes into the third quarter as Evans hit Taquan Mizzell for a 23-yard passing major in his return to the lineup.
The Lions added a punt single on their next possession and led 24-0 after the third quarter.
It looked like Edmonton finally got on the board early in the fourth as Lions receiver Lucky Whitehead dropped the ball and Marcus Lewis ran it into the end zone, however it ended up being ruled an incomplete pass.
Edmonton’s Dean Faithfull attempted a 48-yard field goal but was short.
The Elks once again tried to avoid being shutout with a big 54-yard passing play from Cornelius to Dillon Mitchell got them in scoring range, but Cornelius was picked off on the next play by Garry Peters, meaning Edmonton would go eight full quarters without registering a single point against B.C. this year.
Cornelius completed 16 of 30 passes.
Whyte closed out the game with a 25-yard field goal for the Lions.
Edmonton was without receivers Emmanuel Arceneaux (knee) and Ed Gainey (chest), while the Lions were without wideout Dominique Rhymes (knee), who has a league-best five touchdown catches. … The game was the first pro football contest to be broadcast in Punjabi. The Elks had also set a milestone in 2022 when they broadcast a regular-season matchup in Cree.
To give the Elks’ home losing skid some added perspective, the Pittsburgh Penguins hold the NHL record with 14 straight losses on home ice in the 2003-04 season. The NFL record for consecutive home losses sits at 14 straight, shared by the 1998-99 Dallas Cowboys and the 2008-2010 St. Louis Rams. The NBA record of 19 straight home losses goes to the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks.
The Lions are right back at it on Thursday in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers. The Elks are off on a bye week.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2023.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press