Lions roar past Riders
Saskatchewan Roughriders' quarterback Darian Durant, left, is sacked by B.C. Lions' Keron Williams during the second half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday August 19, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Published Monday, August 20, 2012 7:58AM CST
The fumble on the first play from scrimmage looked like an omen for Travis Lulay.
But he made sure it wasn't.
After committing the early turnover, the B.C. quarterback delivered a strong performance as the Lions beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 24-5 on Sunday before a crowd of 34,343 at B.C. Place.
Lulay ran for one touchdown, threw for another and handed off for one more as the Lions (5-3) retained sole possession of first place by posting their third straight win.
"Mistakes are going to happen in a football game," said Lulay. "That's an important part, when a mistake happens being able to take a deep breath, relax, go out and play the next play without getting flustered and I was able to do that and the team felt that around me."
Arland Bruce, on a spectacular 55-yard touchdown reception, and Ernest Jackson, on a 15-yard reverse, scored B.C.'s other touchdowns. The Lions' other points came in the form of a field goal and three converts from kicker Paul McCallum.
Saskatchewan only managed a first-quarter field goal by Sandro DeAngelis, who made just two attempts, and a safety conceded by McCallum in the final minute.
The Riders (3-4) suffered their fourth straight loss after opening the season with three consecutive wins.
Saskatchewan has not won since beating B.C. in July. Conversely, the Lions have not lost since then.
"Right now at this point we've got work to do," said Riders coach Corey Chamblin. "We'll find a way to win. There's some individual units that are getting better. That's the positive about it.
"I understand that we're a young team -- that's no excuse. That was a good B.C. Lions team out there today, a veteran team. We've just got to make sure that we get some of our young guys turning into vets soon."
The Lions held their opponent without a touchdown, and under 10 points, for the third straight game.
"We feel pretty good about winning football games if the opponent's only scoring five (points)," said Lulay. "That's just a great effort by our defence, especially in the first half when we weren't real consistent. We blew an opportunity down close and then the defence got a stop."
Unheralded third-year cornerback Cauchy Muamba led the way defensively, recording two interceptions.
"We're growing as a team, we're gelling together," said Muamba, a soft-spoken 25-year-old Congo native who grew up in Mississauga, Ont. "Maybe they (Saskatchewan) saw something on film they wanted to expose on me. I just saw the ball and all I did was go up and catch the ball. ... I'm just trying to help our team win, and I did that today."
B.C.'s strong defensive performance came despite the absence of key pass rusher Khalif Mitchell, who sat out the first of a two-game suspension for twisting Edmonton offensive lineman Simeon Rottier.
Lulay extended his touchdown-pass streak to 18 games as he completed 22 of 30 passes for 257 yards. Saskatchewan's Darian Durant completed 18 of 27 passes for 170 yards before he was pulled in the fourth quarter. His backup Drew Willy completed all five of his pass attempts, but could not generate any points.
The loss gave Durant little to celebrate on his 30th birthday.
Saskatchewan couldn't convert an onside kick on the opening kick-off, but got the ball the B.C. 42-yeard-line when Lulay fumbled, through little fault of his own, as Saskatchewan's Odell Willis knocked the ball out of his hands.
The Riders' offence struggled and was hampered by an illegal procedure penalty, but they managed to get three points as DeAngelis connected on a 36-yarder.
The Riders threatened to score again on their next drive, but Muamba recorded his first interception -- and the Riders mustered little offensively from then on.
"We came in with a good game plan, but we left a lot of plays out there on the field and there are a lot of those we want back," said Getzlaf.
Lulay committed another slight faux pas in the second quarter after he tried to run the ball into end zone but was tackled on the Saskatchewan two-yard-line. And then backup quarterback Mike Reilly was denied on a third-and-one attempt.
But after Tim Brown returned a DeAngelis missed field to midfield and Tearrius George's penalty for a horse-collar tackle gave B.C. the ball at Saskatchewan's 34, Lulay advanced B.C. to the Saskatchewan five. This time, he ran the ball into the end zone, staking the Lions to a 7-3 halftime lead.
Late in the third quarter, Dante Marsh's interception and 43-yard return off a Durant pass set a a McCallum 24-yard field goal that put B.C. up 10-3. Then, just before the quarter ended, Lulay connected with Bruce on a long bomb to erase any doubt about the outcome.
"The safety, he made a mistake and left us open, and Travis took advantage of it," said Bruce, who made three catches for 93 yards.
Notes: A moment of silence was held before the game for late former Lions coach Greg Mohns, who died of throat cancer in late July. ... B.C. general manager Wally Buono conducted the opening coin toss with his family on hand at midfield for the occasion.