BC Lions win defensive battle at home against Roughriders

VANCOUVER — The Lions continue to pounce on anyone that enters their domains.

BC’s defence didn’t allow a single major in the 19-9 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday at BC Place.

Defensive backs Garry Peters and Jalon Edwards-Cooper added an interception each in the fourth quarter as the Lions kept the Riders out of the end zone for the entire game. BC has allowed only one touchdown over three games at home this season.

Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was injured in the first quarter on a sack by Riders’ defensive lineman Pete Robertson and left the game in favour of Dane Evans. The backup pivot finished with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Alexander Hollins and an interception as the Lions moved to 5-1. Veteran kicker Sean Whyte added four field goals and a point after for the Orange and Black.

Saskatchewan’s defence also held strong for most of the game, pressuring Evans all afternoon and tallying a pick by defensive back Amari Henderson and a strip sack by linebacker Larry Dean. The Riders’ special teams also showed up with two forced fumbles.

Mason Fine – starting in place of pivot Trevor Harris who suffered an injury of his own last week against the Calgary Stampeders – had two interceptions in the losing effort for the 3-3 Riders.

Kicker Brett Lauther was a perfect three-for-three for the visitors.

BC completed a 4-0 package of wins over all four West Division clubs in 2023 so far.

It was all defence in the first couple of drives for each team as they traded punts while also netting a sack each. Adams Jr. left the game with an injury in one of these quarterback knockdowns and gave way to Evans halfway through the first quarter.

The backup came in and led his to the first touchdown drive of the game. First he found Hatcher over the middle for 53 yards before connecting with a wide-open Hollins behind Saskatchewan’s defence in the end zone for a 27-yard major and a 7-0 lead. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Riders in the first quarter all year.

The Green and White answered with a scoring march of their own after recovering a fumble on a punt return by Marcus Sayles in Lions’ territory. The field position turned on a field goal to cut into BC’s lead early in the second quarter.

Saskatchewan forced yet another turnover in Lions territory with a strip sack by Dean, but this time BC’s defence shut the door and forced the Riders to punt it back to the home team.

The Green and White had four first-half sacks to one by the Lions as both defences dominated in the initial two quarters.

Saskatchewan’s defence started the second half with another big play. This time it was Henderson jumping a deep attempt from Evans for the first interception of the game. The offence was able to feed of that to move into kicker Brett Lauther‘s range for a field goal that made it 7-6.

Evans rebounded from the pick by marching the Lions into Riders territory with passes to receivers Lucky Whitehead and Jevon Cottoy. The drive stalled in the 25-yard line and Whyte made it 10-6 with 7:02 to go in the third quarter.

Lions QB Dane Evans leaping for extra yardage. Photo Jeff Vinnick/BC Lions.com

The Lions stopped a third-down attempt by the Riders in their own territory to set up Evans and co. at the 42-yard line. BC’s pivot promptly connected with Hatcher once more to get inside the 30. Evans then launched it into the end zone to receiver Justin McInnis who almost hauled it in for the Lions’ second major of the game. Hollins moved the chains for the home team and rookie Shaun Shivers took it to the end zone before a holding penalty negated the score. Whyte came in from deep to extend the lead to 13-6.

Trailing by seven early in the fourth quarter, Fine and the Riders were trying to put together another scoring until Garry Peters jumped a pass to the flat to come up with the interception.

McInnis caught a long pass from Evans after the turnover to put the home team in scoring position once more and Whyte pushed the lead to 10 points with 9:13 left on the clock.

Edwards-Cooper jumped a pass close to the left sideline for BC’s second defensive pick of the game.

The visitors forced another turnover with under five minutes to go on a fumble by receiver Terry Williams. Fine then found a wide open Tevin Jones for 44 yards all the way to move to BC’s 20-yard line. After another first down by the visitors, BC’s defence came through the line on a blitz and took down Fine to force second-and-18. A 13-yard completion made it third-and-five and the Riders kicked a field goal to cut the lead back to one possession, 16-9 with a little under two minutes on the clock.

The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the home team who relied on Whyte once more for the final score of the game, 19-9.

The Lions have a solid 11-3 mark against Western rivals dating back almost a year to Jul. 29 of 2022.

BC travels to Edmonton to take on the Elks in Week 8 on Sat., July 29, same day that the Saskatchewan goes coast to coast to play Toronto Argonauts in Halifax for this year’s Touchdown Atlantic

Today's CFL is more than just our great game of football. It's fans sharing their excitement for what they see on the field, and what they experience off it. Stay up to date on all the non-stop action at CFL.ca.