BC Lions offense roars in win over Edmonton

VANCOUVER — Led by a monumental performance from quarterback Nathan Rourke, the BC Lions captured their third consecutive victory in front of a raucous home crowd at BC Place to close out Week 9 of league action on Saturday night.

In what is becoming almost a weekly phrase, the Canadian phenom helped his team to a 46-14 win over the Edmonton Elks. Rourke completed 34 of his 37  passing attempts, throwing for 477 yards and five passing touchdowns, a career-high in both categories. Rourke would add a rushing touchdown to cap off the six touchdown performance.

Dominique Rhymes did the most damage through the air for the Lions on Saturday night. Rhymes caught all nine of his targets, turning them for 91 yards and three touchdowns in the win, giving Rhymes his third multi-touchdown game this year.

Lucky Whitehead was equally as impressive, catching six of his seven passes for a team-high 148 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown reception in the contest.

The game also featured the long-awaited return of Lions receiver, Bryan Burnham who was sidelined following an injury in Week 3. In his return to action, the veteran receiver saw seven targets, catching six for 82 yards and a touchdown.

» Box Score: Elks at Lions by the numbers
» Rourke finds rhythm to lead Lions in win
» Through the Lens: Edmonton at BC
» Watch: Ryhmes scores three TDs in first half

BC opened the game with luck seemingly on their side. After being forced into a two and out situation on the games opening drive, the Lions were forced to punt the ball away. On the return Edmonton’s Duron Carter fumbled and the Lions managed to find the loose ball.

After halting the Lions for a second consecutive drive, the Elks had their offence on the field for the first time in the game. Unfortunately for Edmonton, they were met by the aggressive secondary of the Leos.

On the first play of the game for the Elks offence, Cornelius completed a pass to Kenny Lawler, but BC defensive back Delvin Breaux closed on the play with speed and forced the ball loose from Lawler’s hands on the tackle, the Lions once again recovered the Edmonton fumble.

Following the takeaway, Rourke and the Lions offence would not waste the opportunity given to them by their defence. Rourke lead his team downfield with a seven play 51-yard scoring drive, which prominently featured the team’s leading receiver in Rhymes.

The Veteran receiver caught three passes for 32 yards on the drive, including a goal line touchdown to give his team the early lead. The touchdown also gives Rhymes his sixth touchdown reception of the year, breaking his previous season-high of five.

Edmonton did not looked discouraged by the early adversity they seemed to be up against in the game. Cornelius lead the Elks down field on a seven-play scoring drive. The Edmonton pivot completed all five of his passes for 55 yards on the drive, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Lawler, evening the game at 7-7.

Following the score from Edmonton, Rourke and the BC offence worked quickly to come up with a response. On the first play of the drive Rourke found Lucky Whitehead for a 49-yard completion before connecting with Keon Hatcher for 16 yards, putting the Lions on the Edmonton 20-yard line.

Rourke then called his own number for a 14 yard gain, to put the Lions well within scoring range. Standing on the Edmonton three-yard line Rourke threw a beautiful fade pass to the back of the end zone which found its way into the hands of Rhymes for his second touchdown in the game’s opening quarter.

Rhymes continued to wreak havoc on the Edmonton defensive secondary as the Lions took the field for their first possession of the new quarter. Rhymes capped off a 10-play 69-yard scoring drive for BC as he scored his third touchdown of the game with a highlight reel catch in the back of the end zone, as his team took a 20-7 lead.

The outpouring of scoring continued well into the second quarter for the BC offensive unit. Needing just two plays to score, Rourke connected with Whitehead for a 69-yard touchdown pass, giving Rourke his fourth touchdown pass of the game’s first half.

With two minutes remaining in the game’s opening half, the Lions managed to extend their lead. BC was forced to call on kicker, Sean Whyte as a drive was stifled by the Elks defence. Whyte connected from long-range converting a 47-yard field goal to push the Lions’ lead 30-7.

The Lions found themselves with their offence on the field with just over a minute remaining in the half. Rourke and the BC offence stayed poised and showed a sense of calm under the time constraint. With just 13 seconds remaining Rourke found Burnham on a 20-yard completion for his fifth passing touchdown of the game.

Rourke would finish the first half of action completing 23 of his 26 passing attempts, throwing for 386 yards and five touchdowns.

It was the BC defence who would manage the first set of points for their team to start the second half of action. With the Elks pinned in their own end, BC defensive lineman muscled his way into the Edmonton backfield and forced a safety on Cornelius. The sack on the play also marked the  second sack of the game for Betts against his former team.

Nearing the end of the third quarter, the Lions’ offence would need just four plays to find the end zone. However, it would be Rourke finding the end zone on a seven yard rush, scoring his sixth touchdown of the game, helping BC take a 46-7 lead.

Edmonton would manage to find the end zone to open the final quarter of action. Edmonton newcomer Maleek Irons capped off an 11-play scoring drive with a six-yard run to give his team their second score of the game.

Midway through the final quarter of action Rourke would complete five consecutive passes on the drive, pushing his yardage total to 477, setting a new career-best in single-game passing yardage.

Looking ahead to Week 10 of league action, the Lions will be squaring off against another West Division opponent as they travel to McMahon Stadium to take on the Calgary Stampeders. The Elks will be looking to rebound from the loss on Saturday as they host Cody Fajardo and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

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