Defense dominant as BC Lions down Montreal Alouettes

MONTREAL — A strong defensive performance earned the BC Lions a 32-14 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night at Percival Molson Stadium.

The BC defence dominated the line of scrimmage, sacking Montreal quarterback Antonio Pipkin seven times and forcing the young Als pivot into four interceptions. Offensively, Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings was a respectable 19-for-30 with a touchdown and interception in relief of Travis Lulay, who left the game early in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.

Coordinator Mark Washington’s BC defence featured some gaudy numbers: Davon Coleman and Shawn Lemon each recorded a pair of sacks, Anthony Orange had two interceptions and Bo Lokombo registered an interception and a sack in the win.

A pair of fourth quarter pick-six touchdowns put the game to bed and added emphasis to what had already been an outrageously good performance by the BC defence.

The win was the Lions’ first of the 2018 season on the road, and moved Wally Buono’s squad into the crossover playoff spot — level on 10 points with Winnipeg, but ahead based on a game in-hand.

BC Lions RB Jeremiah Johnson Photo: The Canadian Press

The visitors gained momentum on the opening possession, as BC linebacker Bo Lokombo rose above Montreal’s Ernest Jackson to intercept an Antonio Pipkin pass.

Lulay’s first pass attempt then went for a 41-yard completion to Bryan Burnham, setting the Lions up inside the red zone. The veteran BC quarterback suffered a shoulder injury on the next play — an overthrown end zone shot to Shaq Johnson — and was forced from the game.

Jennings came in off the bench and immediately zipped his first pass to Burnham for a 16-yard touchdown;Ty Long‘s convert gave the Lions a 7-0 lead.

With both defences dominating, it took a key mistake — Pipkin’s second interception of the day, this time to Anthony Orange — to change the scoreboard, as Long and the Lions booted a 25-yard field goal to make it a 10-point game.

Led by some strong William Stanback runs, Montreal’s offence strung together a pair of prolonged drives that resulted in two Boris Bede field goals — one from 46, the other from 29 yards out — and sent the teams to the locker room with BC in front 10-6.

A booming punt single from Bede cut the Alouette deficit to three early in the third quarter, but Long and the Lions responded with a 30-yard field goal to make it a 13-6 ballgame.

BC appeared on the brink of adding to their lead late in the third quarter, as Ty Long set up for a chip-shot 15-yard field goal; Chip Cox broke through the line to block the attempt, and Tevaughn Campbell recovered the loose ball then sprinted 87 yards to pay dirt. Bede’s subsequent convert gave the Als their first lead of the night.

Jennings responded by marching the Lions into field goal range, and the visitors regained the lead two minutes into the fourth quarter via 45-yard Ty Long field goal.

The BC defence continued to dominate, and forced Montreal to concede a safety.

T.J. Lee then sealed the victory for the Lions with a pick-six on a Pipkin throw, as the Eastern Washington product made a perfect read, broke on a pass and took it 37 yards to the house.

Orange followed Lee’s interception up with an exclamation point, hauling in a gift from Pipkin and turning it into a 54-yard pick-six of his own. Long’s convert polished off the night’s scoring and sent the Lions home with an emphatic 18-point win.

The victory moved BC to 5-6 on the season; Wally Buono’s squad will now return home for a date with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-5) next Saturday (10 p.m. ET).

Montreal fell to 3-9 with the loss; Mike Sherman’s team will face the Bombers (5-7) in a must-win contest next Friday (8:30 p.m. ET) at IGF.

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