BY MATT BAKER
ALL week long they were forced to answer questions about what they didn’t do last week in Edmonton. And now they should disappear for at least week. The BC Lions defence forced three turnovers and the offence did their part in a 30-15 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the first of a home and home series.
Shaquille Murray-Lawrence’s 4th Quarter TD run sealed the deal as your squad improved to 5-2 and 2-2 in games against the ultra-competitive Western Division.
Burnham led all receivers with 131 yards, while Chris Williams didn’t disappoint in his debut: The speedy free agent addition hauled in three catches for 75 yards, including a 14-yard reception on the game’s first play from scrimmage. He followed that up with a 49-yard reception on their second series to help set up Ty Long’s second field goal of the night and an early 6-0 lead.
“I feel great man: to get a ‘dub, get on the field and play a game, that’s poetic man. I got hurt against them last year, and to come out and be able to finish the game and contribute to a win, that’s amazing,” said Williams in a victorious home locker room.
Lulay was able to finish despite having the wind knocked out of him on sack by AJ Jefferson late in the first half. He was on the field for a lengthy period of time and you could hear a collective “oh no, not again” start to creep in. Being that warrior that he is, number 14 would leave the field on his own power and not come out until the game was well in hand. Rookie Alex Ross led the offence for the final three drives of the fourth quarter.
“I’m sore, but I’ll be alright,” said Lulay.
“I’ve known Trav since I’ve been in this league since 2011. Toughness is not something you question with him, ” added Williams.
“He’s a Grey Cup MOP and has had to wait his turn again. Seeing him get up and continue to do his thing and really dissect them out there, that was nice to see.”
The home side took a 22-0 lead into the 4th quarter- the first time since October 4th, 1980 where they shut out an opponent through 45 minutes- and hung on after a pair of Brandon Bridge touchdown passes in the final minutes.
Lulay admits there is still work to be done ahead of the rematch in Regina next Sunday, but this was also a solid template going forward.
“It was a great win and what our team needed after a loss in Edmonton,” added Lulay.
“We had the right mindset tonight and it was awesome to see all facets of our team play well. Obviously we want to finish the football game a little cleaner than that, but it was just the all around team win we needed.”
Along with forcing three turnovers, the defence limited Roughriders’ starter Kevin Glenn to just 186 yards and nothing longer than 26 yards before Bridge was summoned late. It has been a talking point for weeks, but I think you can finally say both sides of the ball churned out a full four quarter effort, even if they allowed a couple of late scores.
The rematch goes one week from Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.
The Big Plays
Burnham’s longest catch of the night; which went for 50 yards and set them up at midfield before a penalty tacked on 15. It set up Long’s fourth and final field goal of the night and a 22-0 lead. It was extra important when you consider that drive started back at their own 1. Williams’ 49-yard grab came after they were pinned at the four. Two scores when they started inside their own five will not sit well with Chris Jones and the Riders’ staff.
7– The number of consecutive wins over Saskatchewan. This streak dates back to week two of the 2015 season.
535– Total offensive yards for the Lions in this one. It is the first time they passed the 500-mark since October 8th, 2016 in a loss to Winnipeg.
16– Total points recorded by kicker Ty Long: four field goals, three singles and a convert.
37:21– the time of possession for Lulay and the offence in this one. They wore the Saskatchewan defence down, plain and simple.
5/6– The number of scoring vs. total possessions for the Lions in that dominant first half.
“It feels good to be back. I’ve been through so much the last few weeks. I was at home, on the couch and working out. I came from the streets, man. I just got in there and I got so much hunger. It’s great to have my teammates believe in me and I’m glad we got the win. It’s hard, man. The world gave up on me. You have to stay ready, stay hungry and keep believing.”- Murray-Lawrence on the roller coaster it’s been since he was cut and re-signed this past week.
Wally says: “Probably the thing that impressed me the most is the attitude in which we approached the game. When you compare the attitude of last week and this week, it’s not even similar right? It makes you a better player; it makes you a better team. Our guys have rebounded well most of the two years I have come back (to coaching). Winning is good, losing is not good, losing two is worse, right?”- Buono on his club bouncing back to improve to 5-2.