Tiger-Cats 13, Lions 10: It's not that they lost, but how they lost

The Lions are now 1-9 and if hard questions aren’t being asked about the Ed Hervey-DeVone Claybrooks administration, someone isn’t doing their job.

BC Lions QB Mike Reilly hands off to Wayne Moore. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

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It was another case of the good, the bad and the ugly for the B.C. Lions on Saturday night but, while they took the scenic route getting there, they ended up in the same place.

The Lions are now 1-9 and if hard questions aren’t being asked about the Ed Hervey-DeVone Claybrooks administration, someone isn’t doing their job.

Here’s what we learned from the Lions 13-10 loss before, ahem, 16,751 fans at B.C. Place.

B.C. Lions’ Bryan Burnham is stopped by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Richard Leonard and Frankie Williams. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

Offensive line simply offensive

Despite controlling the clock for almost 20 minutes of the first half while gaining over 200 yards in total offence, the Lions found themselves in a 3-3 tie after 30 minutes.

Apparently that wasn’t good enough for the Lions’ coaching staff. On a second and four from their own 37, the Leos attempted a shovel pass out of punt formation to Ryan Lankford which was squashed by the Ticats.

Seven plays later Ticats backup quarterback David Watford carried over from the one-yard line on third down, giving the visitors a 10-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

That, at least, took care of the scoreboard. But, again, the story with the Lions wasn’t that they lost, it’s how they lost. Quarterback Mike Reilly directed an offence that produced 393 yards in offence but threw two interceptions in the Hamilton end zone, one by Rico Murray and a killer by Richie Leonard in the third quarter after Reilly’s best-looking drive of the game.

The Tiger-Cats were without starting defensive linemen Ted Laurent and Adrian Tracy but still produced seven sacks, five in the first half. And it’s not like the Ticats were blitzing on every play. For the most part they rushed four and still generated consistent pressure on Reilly.

Claybrooks was asked about the performance of his offensive line before the game.

“I told that group the spotlight is on them,” he said. “As your group goes, so goes our offence. They understand they have to play better.”

Saturday night would have been a good place to start.

What else? Well, the Lions also took eight penalties on special teams, including four no-yards penalties which allowed the visitors to control field position. A face-mask penalty on Jevon Cottoy buried the Lions in their own end in the fourth quarter.

Elsewhere on teams, the Leos did a good job of containing the lethal return tandem of Frankie Willilams and Brandon Banks before Banks got loose on a 41-yard punt return midway through the the fourth quarter. That led to a Liram Hajrullahu field goal and a 13-3 Ticats lead.

Garry Peters, with his second interception of the game, gave the Lions a whiff of hope with just over two minutes left. Two roughing-the-passer penalties aided the ensuing drive, which ended with a six-yard Reilly to Bryan Burnham touchdown pass with 31 seconds left.

Hamilton recovered the Lions’ attempt at an onside kick.

BC Lions Garry Peters and  Kevin Haynes wrap up Hamilton Tiger-Cats ball carrier Brandon Banks. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

Yards no issue, but points are

If you needed further explanation why the Lions are 1-9, we refer you to the first half of Saturday night’s game, which ended in an exciting 3-3 tie.

Over the first 30 minutes, the Leos generated 219 yards in total offence, including 78 rushing yards. As a result they held the ball for 19:35 of the first half to Hamilton’s 10:25. They also had a 47-yard punt return by Lankford and an interception by Peters which set up the offence at midfield.

That was the good stuff. Then there was the bad and because this is the Lions, you know there was plenty of bad.

Special teams took three penalties on the Lions’ first two punt returns. As a result they started their first two possessions on their own 14 and their own six.

B.C. Lions’ Wayne Moore is brought down by Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Justin Tuggle. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

Reilly moved the offence to midfield on their first drive before two sacks and an offside moved them back 16 yards. On their second, Reilly moved his team to the Ticats’ 30 when he served up an interception at the goal line to Murray on a play Hamilton was clearly offside.

A 49-yard Reilly-to-Wayne Moore screen pass set up a Sergio Castillo field goal which gave the Lions a 3-0 lead. But the offence also went two and out following Lankford’s punt return and Peters’s interception.

It almost goes without saying the Ticats recorded five quarterback sacks in the half. Reilly held the ball too long on one of them. Another came when the Ticats were again offside. But the Ticats were also generating pressure with a four-man rush.

RB White injured early

Lions running back John White gained 53 yards on his first four carries and caught another pass for 23 in the game’s first 10 minutes. White then left the game with an apparent left-ankle injury and didn’t return. Moore, the second-year man from McMaster, picked up for White and finished with 36 yards on nine carries and 60 more yards on three catches.

The Ticats, meanwhile, were without Laurent and Tracy, who injured himself during warmup.




Friday | Sept. 6

B.C. Lions vs. Montreal Alouettes 

4:30 p.m., Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium, TV: TSN; Radio: TSN 1040 AM

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