BC Lions beat Winnipeg in West Division showdown

VANCOUVER — The BC Lions picked up a pivotal 40-32 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday night to take over sole possession of second place in the West Division.

The Lions now stand two points ahead of the third place Calgary Stampeders with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

The defense came to play for the Lions as Marcus Sayles and TJ Lee both recorded a pick-six. Sione Teuhema, Bo Lokombo, and David Menard made their way through the Blue Bombers offensive line for sacks.

James Butler fueled the offense with 14 carries for 101 yards and Vernon Adams Jr. was strong under center, throwing for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Lions leading receiver Dominique Rhymes pulled down three catches for 43 yards and caught the Adams Jr. touchdown.

Arguably the best performance of the game came from Terry Williams, who totalled 341 return yards.

Dru Brown, who was making his first career start at quarterback for Winnipeg, completed 27 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns.

Rasheed Bailey helped his young quarterback by amassing 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

» Box Score: Blue Bombers, Lions by the numbers
» Through the Lens: Winnipeg at BC
» Watch: Watch: Sayles picks of Brown and takes it to the house
» Campbell credits defense, special teams in Lions win over Bombers

The Lions won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to start the game. Williams would then return the opening kickoff 40 yards to give Adams Jr. favorable field position to begin the Lions opening drive.

A pair of completions to Alexander Hollins and Butler got the Lions to the Blue Bombers 25-yard line. Adams Jr. then scrambled for a 16-yard run for a first down before Butler capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run.

Brown’s first drive as a starter began at the Blue Bombers 35-yard line, with his first completion coming on his second pass to Oliveira. Brown found Nic Demski for a 15-yard reception to move onto BC’s half of the field. Despite running five more plays, a Teuhema sack forced the Blue Bombers to settle for a 38-yard field goal from Marc Liegghio.

Ending the first quarter in Winnipeg territory, the Lions opened the second quarter with a 41-yard field goal from Sean Whyte to extend their lead to 10-3.

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Janarion Grant returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to knot the score at 10-10.

The Lions would answer with a pick-six from Marcus Sayles midway through the second quarter to regain the lead.

On the Blue Bombers next offensive possession, Brown led his team on a six play drive but would be sacked by Lokombo to force a field goal attempt. Liegghio came up short and Williams returned it 90 yards to set up Adams Jr. and the offence deep in Winnipeg territory.

The Blue Bombers defense would hold strong though, limiting the Lions to a field goal.

A pass interference call late in the first half allowed the Lions to move to the opposing 32-yard line and Adams Jr. made it count. He completed a 12-yard pass to Keon Hatcher and then found Lions leading receiver Rhymes for a touchdown to increase their lead to 27-10 heading into the half.

After trading scoreless possessions to open the second half, the Blue Bombers made their way past midfield on their second drive of the third quarter. Trailing by 17, head coach Mike O’Shea decided to go for it on third-and-two and Brown delivered a nine yard completion to Nic Demski.  Brown then found Bombers leading receiver Dalton Schoen for a 22-yard touchdown pass, his first as a starter in the CFL.

Williams continued to make an impact in return game, returning the kickoff 37 yards. The Lions would tack on a a 26-yard field goal from Whyte to take a 30-17 lead.

Looking for a quick answer, the Bombers marched down the field on six plays but couldn’t find the end zone. Liegghio would miss a 45-yard field goal attempt wide left. Williams had another lengthy return on the miss, getting the ball out to the 33-yard line but the Lions failed to execute a score.

Winnipeg got the ball back and drove down the field to the BC 25-yard line, under pressure Brown scrambled and found Rasheed Bailey for a first down. He found Bailey again for a 15-yard touchdown pass to cut the Lions lead to 30-24 with just under 11 minutes to go.

Making returns look routine, Williams brought the kickoff back 32 yards to the 50-yard line. Adams Jr. completed passes to Rhymes and Hatcher, then called his own number on third-and-one for the first down. Continuing to move down the field and burn time off the clock, the Lions closed out the drive with a 25-yard field goal from Whyte to make it a two-score game.

Trying to get back in the game, Brown completed a 22-yard pass to Grant. On what looked like a sack by Woody Baron, the command center confirmed a roughing the passer call to move the Bombers down the field.

Brown found Brendon O’Leary-Orange but on the very next play TJ Lee picked off his pass and returned it 102 yards for a touchdown.

Brown would find Bailey again in the end zone and executed on the two-point conversion to make it 40-32, but it was as close as the Blue Bombers would get.

The BC Lions head to Edmonton for a contest with the Elks in Week 20. Winnipeg has a bye before returning home to take on BC for both teams’ regular season finale in Week 21.

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