Story by Alex Rodgerson ISN
The B.C. Lions push towards the 2018 CFL playoffs continued on Saturday afternoon, as the Lions came away with a 26-23 victory over the Toronto Argonauts at B.C. Place. For the Lions they see their record improve to 6-6 and in doing so return to the .500 mark while the Argos fell for the sixth straight time, seeing their record drop to 3-11 on the season. The Lions entered Saturday’s game looking to rebound from a 40-10 blowout defeat at the hands of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a week prior, while the Argos came into the game having lost their last five overall while allowing an average of thirty-seven PPG over their past four outings.
The Lions would win the opening coin-toss and elect to receive the ball first. On their first drive starting quarterback Jonathon Jennings, looking to bounce back from a tough outing last week, would work to connect with his number #1 target Bryan Burnham to establish the B.C. offence early.
Toronto would start their first drive of the game deep in their own end after a great punt from Ty Long would land out of bounds at the Argos thirteen-yard line. A scary then moment would then follow, as Argonauts’ receiver SJ Green would take a massive hit from Lions’ linebacker Jordan Herdman. Green, arguably the Argos top-receiver, would stay down for several minutes before eventually leaving the game under his own power. Herdman would be assessed a fifteen-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness, despite it looking like a good hit just with an unfortunate result. However on the very next play, Lions’ Anthony Orange would come up with his league-leading fifth interception of the season, picking off Toronto QB Bethel-Thompson and returning it twenty-six yards for the Lions.
The following drive would see Jennings find Burnham deep down field for a forty-yard pickup, putting the Lions into the red zone. B.C. would then find the end zone for the first time on the afternoon, with Jennings connecting with Cory Watson for a 14-yard touchdown reception. However, Lions’ kicker Ty Long would then come in to kick the extra point and unbelievably miss to the right, putting the Lions ahead 6-0. The Argos would concede a safety to give the Lions another two points, and the first quarter would end with the Lions up 8-0.
The second quarter would begin with the Lions adding to their early lead. After Jonathon Jennings twelve-yard sneak would put the Lions in field goal territory, Ty Long would nail a forty-three yard field goal to make up for his earlier miss and put B.C. up 11-0. Toronto’s offence would look to wake up on their first drive of the second quarter, with QB Bethel-Thompson finding receiver Declan Cross for a 20-yard gain. After a successful third down conversion, Argos kicker Zackary Medeiros would hit the twenty-seven yard field goal to get Toronto on the board, trailing 11-3 midway through the quarter.
Late in the half the Argonauts would get the ball back deep in their own end, before seeing their drive come to an abrupt end with Lions’ DB Davon Coleman intercepting the ball at the Argos eighteen-yard line. Ty Long would then add another field goal to put the Lions up 14-3. However, on the Argos next drive, Branden Burks would find a hole through the Lions secondary and blaze down field for a game-high 68-yard run. Working in the red zone, Toronto QB Bethel-Thompson would eventually find receiver Llevi Noel for the major, putting the Argos right back in the game trailing 14-10. B.C. would respond with a couple of field-goals, as well as Davon Coleman’s second interception of the day, and head to the locker room ahead of the Argonauts by a half-time score of 20-10.
Toronto’s Branden Burks would have a game-high seventy-seven yards rushing in the half, mainly due to his gigantic 68-yard run in the second quarter while Lions Bryan Burnham would lead the game with 50-yards receiving at the half. Heading into the third quarter the Lions would need more from WR Devier Posey, who only had one yard receiving in the half.
As the third quarter would get underway DB Shawn Lemon would highlight the Lions’ defensive efforts early on. After Argos WR Duron Carter would haul in a 20-yard reception Lemon would settle down the B.C. defence, causing a huge-loss on 2nd down before sacking Bethel-Thompson to end the Toronto drive. For Lemon this would be his ninth sack of the CFL season. B.C. would be forced to punt on their first possession of the half, but that would give Ty Long an opportunity to kick another picture-perfect punt out of bounds at the Argos three-yard line.
The Argos would then put together an inspired drive from their own three, putting together seven plays and working their way to midfield before Lions’ DB Winston Rose would make the Lions’ fourth pick of the game, giving the ball back to B.C. On the first play of the Lions next drive DeVier Posey, who had struggled up to this point, would rebound from a tough first half and pick up a thirty-three yard pass reception.
B.C. would be unable to muster anything more on the drive and would be forced to punt again, however another great punt would force the Argos to start their drive within their own ten-yard line. This would lead to a quick three-and-out, and on the ensuing punt return Chris Rainey, who leads the CFL with 1,579 return-yards, would take the ball all the way to the house in front of a ignited B.C. crowd. The play would ultimately be overturned however due to an illegal block, and the Lions would start the drive at centre field heading into the final quarter still up 20-10.
To start the final frame the Argos would record their fourth sack of the game, as the Lions’ defence would continue to uncharacteristically allow easy routes to QB Jonathon Jenning. However, later in the quarter after a nice gain from Jeremiah Johnson, Jennings would take it himself and rush 33-yard into the Argos red zone. For Jennings to go along with 199-yards in the air, he would register 47-yards rushing as well in one of his better performances this year. The Argos defence would manage to hold the Lions to a field goal, but this would put B.C. up by thirteen with under ten minutes left to play.
Toronto back-up quarterback James Franklin would see action for the Argos in the fourth quarter, after Bethel-Thompson would only manage to ring up 91-yards passing on the day. After Ty Long would hit another field goal to put the Lions up 26-10, the Lions defence would take over looking to secure the victory. However, Toronto QB Franklin would then lead a six-play drive deep into Lions territory, before Franklin would find Duron Carter for the touchdown reception. The Argos would attempt to go for the two-point convert but would fail, leading to them still being down by ten with just over two minutes left in the game.
The Argos would then attempt an onside kick, with Lions’ Bryan Burnham easily hauling in the kick before taking a knee. After taking a knee however, he would be blasted from behind by Duron Carter in an act of frustration for the Argos, and a fifteen-yard penalty would be called. Toronto would manage another touchdown in the games final minute to make it 26-23, but would be unable to find success with the onside kick and giving the ball back to B.C. with 0:36 seconds remaining. This would all but seal the deal for the Lions, who now see their record return to the .500 mark while successfully keeping their hopes for the playoffs alive.
For B.C. Jeremiah Johnson would finish Saturday’s win over the Argonauts with a game-high 118-yards rushing, while Cory Watson led the game with 65-yards receiving. Neither team was able to generate a plethora of net yards in the air, with B.C. totaling 199-yards versus 200-yards for Toronto. B.C. would only manage one sack on the afternoon, down from previous weeks while the Argonauts found their way to QB Jonathon Jennings a total of four times.
Next up for the Lions will be a showdown with the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium next Saturday as the Lions will have their hands full with the leagues best team.