Lions go wild against Riders
Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Kory Sheets is stopped by the BC Lions from getting the first down near the goal line during the second half of their CFL football game in Vancouver, British Columbia August 19, 2012. (Andy Clark/REUTERS)
The B.C. Lions defence were again called upon to be their suffocating self. And again, they delivered.
For the third straight game, the Lions kept their opponents out of the endzone, this time silencing the potentially explosive Saskatchewan Roughriders offence with another superb defensive showing. Aside from allowing an early field goal, the defending Grey Cup champs were impenetrable en route to a 24-5 victory over the Riders at BC Place on Sunday.
The win improves the Lions' record to 5-2, good enough for first overall in the CFL, while Saskatchewan suffers their fourth straight defeat since beating B.C. in Regina in Week 3.
"We feel pretty good about winning football games if the opponents are only scoring five points," quarterback Travis Lulay said. "That's just a great effort by our defence."
In front of a crowd of 34,343, revenge was sweet. The Lions held the Riders' offence to 261 total yards, picked up three interceptions on quarterback Darian Durant and sacked him twice. They also flexed their offensive muscles at the right time. Lulay threw for 257 yards, with one touchdown and ran for another 27 yards with a trip to the endzone himself.
In the end, it came down to the Lions defence, which was put to work early after the team's offence stumbled out of the gate.
Lulay was stripped of the football on the very first possession, resulting in just the Lions' sixth turnover and first lost fumble of the season. On the ensuing play, B.C. held the Roughriders to a field goal and kept them off the scoreboard for the rest of the way until a late safety to Saskatchewan. The Lions offence finally found the endzone with 18 second remaining in the second quarter with Lulay scoring on a five-yard run to put the hosts up 7-3.
"They did some good things defensively but it's just a matter of being patient and finding a way to make a play when the opportunity is there," Lulay said of the team's mindset heading into the half. "We did a good job in the second half and made the plays that we needed to."
B.C. added to their lead in the third quarter following a Dante Marsh interception on Durant, as the defensive back carried the ball to the Roughriders' 19-yard line. The Lions ended up settling for a field goal. But after another ineffective Saskatchewan drive, they managed to give themselves some much-needed breathing room.
Lulay connected with Arland Bruce twice, the first on a 28-yard pass and the second a 55-yard touchdown convert, as B.C. grabbed a 14-point lead. Soon after, rookie receiver Ernest Jackson put the nail in the coffin with a 15-yard rushing touchdown. The defence then did the rest — highlighted by safety Cauchy Muamba's second interception of the game.
"Saskatchewan is not a bad team," Bruce said. "This is a divisional opponent and we just had to keep our composure and finish drives and find a way to win. And we did that today as a team. It was a good win for us."
Roughriders running back Korey Sheets finished with 42 rushing yards while Bruce led B.C. with 93 receiving yards.
The Lions, who are off to their best start through seven games since 2007, head into Winnipeg where they will face the Blue Bombers. The Roughriders return home to host the Calgary Stampeders, Saturday.