REGINA – Thomas DeMarco engineered a five-play drive to set up a game-winning Paul McCallum field goal as the BC Lions stunned the Saskatchewan Roughriders with a 24-22 come-from-behind win.
The Lions had just conceded an 8-yard go-ahead touchdown to Weston Dressler to give the Roughriders their first lead since halftime with 38 seconds left.
DeMarco finished the evening 18 of 33 for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first career start.
|Simon ties record|
Not only was Geroy Simon facing his former mates Sunday, he was chasing down a record. Simon made five catches which puts him in a tie for first place on the CFL's All-Time Career Receptions list alongside Ben Cahoon with 1,017...View Game Stats.
Sunday marked the first time future Hall of Fame slotback Geroy Simon faced his former BC club since being traded in the off-season. Arguably one of the greatest to ever don a Leos jersey, Simon accumulated 14,756 yards and 93 touchdowns on 904 receptions in 12 seasons in Vancouver.
Simon and the Riders were looking to bounce back after dropping their first home game of the season to Toronto. Although they got Dressler back in the lineup, they would have to do so without their stud running back Kory Sheets, who left last week's game with a knee injury.
Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber RB Chris Garrett drew into the starting tailback spot. The shifty back has been battling injuries the last couple of seasons and with the exception of a pre-season game last year, hasn’t suited up since the 99th Grey Cup game in November 2011.
Garrett joined the Riders just three weeks ago but his tenure didn’t exactly start as planned.
On the second play from scrimmage, Darian Durant operated out of the shotgun but miscommunication between he and Garrett led to a Riders fumble and the Lions recovered on the Saskatchewan 46 yard line.
On came DeMarco who was making his first career start in place of Travis Lulay who injured his throwing shoulder against Montreal last week. His start marked the 17th different pivot to get a start in the Canadian Football League this season.
DeMarco looked poised on his first possession, effectively marching the Lions down to the Riders three yard line on a 7-play drive. But he couldn’t punch it into the endzone and the Lions settled for a 12-yard Paul McCallum field goal to put the first three points on the board.
The Riders earned a pair of punt singles early in the second quarter as the defences continued to rule the first half.
DeMarco’s half didn’t last long as veteran Buck Pierce’s second stint with BC officially got underway with 7:36 left in the second when he took over the offence. He put together a 10-play, 55-yard drive but the Riders ‘D’ would only give up a 32-yard McCallum field goal.
The Lions held Durant and the Riders offence in-check for the entire half if not for the last 2 seconds when Saskatchewan put the first major on the board.
|Related: Lions at Riders|
» Highlights: BC at Saskatchewan
» View Game Stats
» Images: BC at SSK
» Benevides Excited After Win
» BC's Game-Winning Drive vs. Riders
» Dressler Puts Riders Ahead
» DeMarco Finds Moore for 43-Yard TD
» Gore Hauls in 20-Yard TD Pass
» Durant Hooks up With Garrett Before Half
» Preview: Simon welcomes old team to Mosaic
Durant found Garrett down the near sideline on a wheel route and the tailback made up for his earlier fumble by nabbing a 37-yard touchdown to put the Riders up 9-6 heading into halftime.
The Lions would go back to DeMarco to start the second half and he seemed to be a different quarterback.
After Chris Milo added a 15-yard field goal, DeMarco went to work on his most impressive drive of the day, moving his team all the way down the field after starting on his own 14 yard line.
First DeMarco found Nick Moore in stride for a 43-yard touchdown and then promptly spotted Shawn Gore for a 20-yard major after Lions DL Jabar Westerman fell on a Darian Durant fumble in Saskatchewan territory.
The back-to-back touchdowns help build BC’s biggest lead to that point, going up 21-12.
Milo on the other hand, wasn’t having the same kind of luck on the other sideline. After hitting the goal post on a field goal last week versus Toronto, he failed to put six total points up in this contest, pegging two more uprights.
He would re-discover his form a few minutes later however, splitting the uprights on a 47-yarder to pull the Riders within six, 21-15.
And with his team down by six and just under two –minutes remaining, Durant led a 10-play, 79-yard touchdown drive capped by the major to Dressler to go up 22-21 with 38 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Lions got the ball back with decent field position after WR Marco Iannuzzi returned the ball to the Lions’ 44 yard line.
Then DeMarco showed the maturity and poise of a seasoned veteran and calmly found Gore for 17 yards and then Courtney Taylor on third-and-10 for 15 yards to set up the 42-yard McCallum attempt.
The 43-year-old placekicker nailed it right through the uprights to send the Lions home with a 24-22 win and a share of second place in the West Division with their opponents.
Both teams hit the road next week as the Lions travel to Winnipeg while the Riders go to Montreal to play the Alouettes.