It won’t go down as a classic or have its own shrine in The Louvre. But members of the BC Lions can take solace in the fact their 2022 pre-season swan song resulted in a gritty 20-18 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday night at BC Place.
Michael O’Connor connected with Josh Pearson for a 24-yard third-quarter touchdown while Sean Whyte’s field goal with 5:05 to play proved to be the winning points in what was a solid second half turnaround for the home side.
Nathan Rourke took advantage of his only pre-season game action with a solid opening half, completing 13 of 19 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown to Bryan Burnham before making way for O’Connor for the game’s final 30 minutes. Newcomer Antonio Pipkin was a spectator, four days after agreeing to terms on a contract. Now for some game takes from Matt Baker following the win:
Shaking Off Rust
Overall, you have to give a passing grade to the projected starting lineup who were for the most part pulled after the first half. Rourke was able to establish connections with Burnham and Dominique Rhymes while the defence made plays when it had to, highlights for the starting unit coming on a couple of pass knockdowns from Jordan Williams and Obum Gwacham. Rick Campbell took note of just how ready these elder statesmen were to play a game, meaningless or not.
“I sure liked the feistiness and the buy-in. In the locker room, those guys were itching to go,” said the head coach.
“Going out for warmups, guys were going out two minutes early. They were attentive and ready to go. Everybody. I know the veterans were ready to go out there and get some competitive football in. That was really good to see. I was proud of the young guys in the end. When the scoreboard is on, you want to keep competing and find a way to get it done and they did. I’m proud of those things.”
Rourke echoed the comments of his head coach.
“I’m happy with how we started, I’m happy with how we finished,” said number 12.
“There are things to learn from, obviously. It’s never going to be perfect. I was happy with the mindset and the effort that the guys gave and how we were able to put a 15-play drive out to start. You always love to see that. I would have loved to have finished that with a touchdown, but I was happy with the fact that we were kind of in a lull there but we got the score at the end of the half. I was really happy with that.”
Every little bit helps ahead of next Saturday’s opener against the Elks.
The Turning Point
With the Riders pressing to take a two-score lead in the third quarter, newcomer Quincy Mauger saved the day with an end zone interception, his second in as many pre-season contests. The Lions then proceeded to march the field and answer with the Pearson touchdown grab. Mauger talked about getting the chance to contribute in his maiden CFL training camp voyage.
“All the hard work we did in training camp just seems to pay off, ” said the former Georgia Bulldogs standout.
“Great coaches put me in the position to make those plays and also that defence, my teammates, they’re flying around and allowing me to make those plays as well. Coming into a locker room with Garry, Marcus, TJ, I can name every last starter. You can learn anything from them.”
Yet another example of a training camp newcomer making the most of his opportunity.
33:24- The Lions owned time of possession this one, partially added by a 15-play drive on their first series that resulted in Whyte’s first field goal of the night.
86.7- O’Connor’s completion percentage. He was 13/15 in a tidy second half.
296- the combined passing yardage for both Lions quarterbacks.
70- game-high receiving yards for Dominique Rhymes
Following Saturday’s cut down day, the team is back to work on Monday ahead of the June 11 regular season opener against the Edmonton Elks at BC Place. It is a 7:00 pm kickoff.