Roaring defense leads BC Lions to victory over Ottawa REDBLACKS

VANCOUVER – The BC Lions snapped a two-game losing skid, but may have paid a heavy price in the process, losing their starting centre and quarterback to injury, as they defeated the Ottawa REDBLACKS 26-14 on Friday night.

Jonathon Jennings completed 10/12 passes with a touchdown in relief of Lulay, while receiver Ricky Collins Jr. recorded his first 100 yard receiving game, setting a new career high with 10 catches for 105 yards.

Odell Willis led the way for the BC Lions defence with three sacks, as they created problems for the REDBLACKS all night long, recording six total sacks and forcing three interceptions as Ottawa’s quarterbacks found no room to work for much of the game.

It was a rough start for the Lions, as starting C Cody Husband went down with a knee injury just eight seconds into the game, followed by QB Travis Lulay suffering an eye injury after a sack on the ensuing play. Husband did not return.

Lulay would return on the following BC drive, and appeared to suffer no damage to his vision as he wasted no time before finding Ricky Collins in the end zone for a Lionstouchdown.

The Lions defence made a big play of their own later in the first quarter, as DB Winston Rose took advantage of an an off-balance throw from Harris and grabbed it for an easy interception. Despite strong starting field position, an unsuccessful fake field goal attempt left the Lions without any points on the drive.

Both defences were tenacious in the opening frame, combining for three quarterback sacks and giving Lulay and Harris very little time to breathe under centre.

A punt single from Richie Leone got the REDBLACKS on the board early in the second quarter.

With Husband out of the game for the Lions, Lulay struggled to get on the same page as his backup centre, stifling the BC offence.

Lions DB Anthony Orange nearly had an easy pick-six after perfectly predicting a WR screen, but just couldn’t hold onto the ball and settled for a knockdown. But it wouldn’t be long before the Lions defence capitalized again, as DB Alex Thompson picked off Harris for the second time of the half.

The injury bug plagued the Lions following the interception as Lulay went down again, this time with a head injury after a collision with two Ottawa defenders. Lulay entered the concussion protocol following the hit and did not return to the game.

QB Jonathon Jennings took over for Lulay at pivot for the Lions.

A field goal from BC K Ty Long extended the home team’s lead to nine heading into the half.

The Lions D was the story of the first half, recording four sacks and three turnovers and holding the REDBLACKS offence to just a single point.

The start of the second half saw a change at QB for the REDBLACKS, as Dominique Davis took over for Harris under centre. Unfortunately for Ottawa, the change in process led to the same results, as Davis saw his second pass attempt picked off by LB Bo Lokombo, deep in REDBLACKS territory.

With a short field in front of him Jennings made no mistakes, gaining a first down before finding Bryan Burnham in the end zone. Jennings’ two-point convert pass attempt to Collins was no good, and the Lions led by 15.

After a two-and-out with Davis at the helm, the REDBLACKS brought Harris back into the game for their next drive. Starting at the BC 45 after an illegal punt, Harris got back into his groove, finding Diontae Spencer for a 12-yard gain before leaning on RB William Powell, who accounted for six of the next seven plays as Ottawa marched down to the goal line.

Down 15 points late in the third quarter and facing 3rd and two, REDBLACKS HC Rick Campbell put his trust in his quarterback, and Harris did not disappoint, finding WR Brad Sinopoli all alone in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. K Lewis Ward’s convert narrowed the BC lead to just eight.

Ward would chip away at the BC lead even further with a field goal on the REDBLACKS following drive, as the momentum seemed to have flipped from the first half.

Long and Ward would trade field goals late in the fourth quarter.

Jennings and the Lions took over at their own 35-yard line and took their time on their final drive of the game, killing the clock with plenty of run plays and short passes. Shortly after the three-minute warning RBJeremiah Johnson broke free for a 33-yard gain down the right sideline, putting the Lions inside the 10-yard line.

Just two plays later, Johnson would cap off the drive himself with a six-yard scamper into the end zone, putting the Lions up 12 with under two minutes remaining in the game, a lead which would prove enough for the win.

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