Odell Willis (11), Bo Lokombo (20), Anthony Thompson (23) and Shawn Lemon (9) of the BC Lions during the game against the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, BC on Thursday, August 9, 2018. (Photo: Johany Jutras / CFL)
  • Story by Alex Rodgerson ISN

The B.C. Lions successfully kept their playoff hopes alive on Saturday night at BC Place, topping the Hamilton Tiger-Cats by a final of 35-32 in OT. In what could easily be a CFL game of the year candidate, the Lions showed true resiliency being down several times in the game while continuing to claw their way back to eventually force overtime. B.C. would enter Saturday night’s action having won two straight, while Hamilton came in winners of three of the last four games.

Hamilton QB Jeremiah Masoli would feel the heat from the Lions defence early in the game, as on the final play of Hamilton’s first drive Masoli would be forced to throw the ball away from a hard rushing B.C. defence. The Lions secondary would start the game with the same level of intensity as had in their previous two affairs, forcing the Tiger-Cats back deep into their side of centre. On B.C.s first drive of the game Lions’ running back Jeremiah Johnson would pick up an 11-yard gain but the Lions would be unable to convert on third down and would be forced to punt. However, Lions kicker Ty Long would launch a near perfect punt out-of-bounds at the Tiger-Cats 10-yard line, starting Hamilton’s next drive with terrible field position. This is the sixth time this season Long has done this.

After the Tiger-Cats would be forced to punt from their own 10-yard line, Lions’ Chris Rainey would take the ball back 25-yards only to have the return negated by an illegal block by David Mackie. The Lions would be unable to capitalize with a major but would instead settle for their first field goal of the game, as Ty Long would hit a 51-yarder to put the Lions ahead 3-0 with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter. Hamilton would take the ball back at their own 20-yard line, and would see their offence go three and out again. Late in the quarter the Tiger-Cats offence would finally make it to centre field, but would be unable to make it into the Lions half until a face-masking flag would negate a huge loss. The first quarter would come to a close with the Lions still ahead by three, and leading in net-yards 63 to 40.

VANCOUVER, BC. - The BC Lions vs Hamilton Tiger Cats at BC Place Photo By Derek Cain / ISN.
VANCOUVER, BC. – The BC Lions vs Hamilton Tiger Cats at BC Place Photo By Derek Cain / ISN.

The Tiger-Cats would start the second quarter at the Lions 42-yard line and after their offence would be unable to make any gains, kicker Lirim Hajrullahu would enter the game and miss his first field goal attempt of the night wide to the right. Just minutes later and for the third time in the game, the Lions would have a penalty flag negate a huge play, as DB Anthony Thompson would have an interception called back. The very next play, the Lions would be slapped with another flag, this time for pass interference which would put the Tiger-Cats all the way into the Lions red-zone before RB John White would run it in from 8-yards out. Hajrullahu would convert the point after, and Hamilton would grab their first lead of the night 7-3 with 8:40 left in the half. With 7:00 to go in the second quarter the Tiger-Cats offence would begin to find a hole in the Lions secondary, with QB Masoli connecting on a 75-yard touchdown reception to put Hamilton up by a score of 14-3. On the Lions next drive, Jennings would throw a dart over the middle to Anthony Parker to bring B.C. to the Hamilton 50-yard line. On the next play Jennings would avoid the rush and call his own number, but it wouldn’t be enough for the first down and Ty Long would punt again.

This would be the point in tonight’s contest when the B.C. offensive line would begin to struggle, as Jennings would go on to be sacked twice on the next drive before the Tiger-Cats would get to him again on the following drive. The half would conclude with the Tiger-Cats holding a 14-3 lead over the Lions, with B.C. forfeiting 105 first half yards due to penalties.

The Lions would start the second half with a lot more hunger than the first as Jonathon Jennings would connect early on with DeVier Posey for a 31-yard gain, putting B.C. into the Hamilton red-zone. After the Lions would convert on third down Jennings and the B.C. offence would go to work with a fresh set of downs. Two plays later after Wally Buono unsuccessfully challenged an incomplete pass, Jennings would connect with Cory Watson for the Lions first major of the evening. The Lions would convert on the following two-point conversion and climb back to within striking distance, down 14-11 with 8:29 remaining in the third quarter. After the Tiger-Cats would secure their second field goal of the night, B.C. would be unable to enter the red-zone for the duration of the quarter. The two teams would head to the final quarter with the Lions down by an unconverted touchdown, 17-11.

To start the fourth quarter the Lions would get a major break as an illegal blocking penalty would negate a Tiger-Cats punt return TD, and put Hamilton all the way back to their own 30-yard line. On the following drive however, Hamilton QB Masoli would continue to find his receivers for big gains, marching the Tiger-Cats back down field. After Masoli would connect with WR Luke Tasker for a 29-yard gain, the Tiger-Cats would go on to add another field goal to go up by nine with 12:26 left in the game. Things would then go from bad to worse for the Lions when a fumble in the Lions backfield would lead to a Tiger-Cats recovery at the Lions 30-yard line. However, the ruling on the field would be overturned, being called as an incomplete pass instead of a fumble and allowing the Lions offence would get another chance. A few plays later on the same drive, Lions WR Ricky Collins would take a massive hit from Tiger-Cats Mike Daly, and would be forced to exit the game.

VANCOUVER, BC. - The BC Lions vs Hamilton Tiger Cats at BC Place Photo By Derek Cain / ISN.
VANCOUVER, BC. – The BC Lions vs Hamilton Tiger Cats at BC Place Photo By Derek Cain / ISN.

Ty Long would then hit his second field goal of the game to bring the Lions back within six with 7:58 to go, however penalty trouble would continue to haunt the Lions, with Anthony Thompson being assessed an unnecessary roughness flag for delivering a hit to the head of a defenceless player. Continuing what had been one of his strongest games of the season, former Tiger-Cat Davon Coleman would gain the momentum back for B.C. with his second sack of the evening before the Lions offence would go back to work deep in Hamilton territory with 3:16 left in the game. On the next play, Jennings would spot Bryan Burnham in the end zone for the touchdown, giving the Lions a 21-20 lead with 2:26 to go. This would be the first lead for B.C. since they led 3-0 early in the first quarter, but it wouldn’t be long-lived. On the Tiger-Cats next drive, Masoli would find an absolutely wide open Mike Jones for a 55-yard score, putting Hamilton back up 28-21.

With things looking bleak for the Lions with just seconds to go in the game, Jennings and company would muster up a 5 play, 75-yard drive, marching the Lions miraculously down field before Bryan Burnham would score his second TD of the game with 0:02 seconds left on the clock. Now 29-27, the Lions would attempt the two point conversion when it looked like Burnham would haul in another catch in the corner of the endzone. However, this would be ruled as an incomplete pass, forcing the Lions to challenge. After a lengthy review, it was determined that Burnham had a foot inbounds and the convert would stand, sending this wild game to overtime.

In the extra frame the Lions would get the ball first, and thanks to consecutive first downs by Jeremiah Johnson they would work their way to the Hamilton 15-yard line. Ty Long would then hit a 22-yard field goal to put the Lions up 32-29, giving the Tiger-Cats one last opportunity to tie or win. On the ensuing drive Tiger-Cats QB Jeremiah Masoli would surpass 300-yards in passing as Hamilton would enter the Lions red-zone with an opportunity for the win. Hamilton would have to settle for the field goal and the game would be all tied up once again. OT would continue as Hamilton would then get another opportunity on offence, however the Lions defence would step up and force the Tiger-Cats into another field goal attempt, which would be wide to the left. With the Lions back on offense Jennings and company would push their way to the Hamilton 31-yard line, before Ty Long would step in and deliver the game-winning field goal to secure a wild 35-32 win on home turf. With the victory the Lions now see their record improve to 6-6 on the year, with their next game being a rematch with the very same Tiger-Cats next weekend in Hamilton.

ISN Players of the Game:

BC Lions – LB Davon Coleman
Former Tiger-Cat was constantly in the face of his former team and was easily the Lions most aggressive defender on this night. Coleman recorded eight tackles and three sacks.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats – QB Jeremiah Masoli
Tiger-Cats QB had a big night in the air, completing 19/25 passes while throwing for 311-yards and two touchdowns. Also added 37-yards on the ground.

Game Notes:

-B.C. had 154 lost yards due to the result of penalties.
-In his first game in relief of Travis Lulay, Jonathon Jennings went 32/47 throwing for 346-yards and three touchdowns.
-Hamilton’s Mike Jones had a game-high 138 receiving yards.
-Tonight’s attendance at B.C. Place was 18,794.