WINNIPEG – The BC Lions defence was simply smothering Friday night in a 53-17 handling of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field, clinching a playoff spot in the process.
An interception and two fumble recovery touchdowns in the first half got things started and the Lions didn't look back after that.
Max Hall got his second consecutive start for Winnipeg behind centre and had a rather unconventional set of pass protectors in front of him. The Bombers went with four imports along the offensive line in an effort to not only provide extra protection but hopefully spark the running game with Will Ford.
BC could not have gotten off to a better start and it was at the expense of Ford and Hall.
|Related: Lions at Winnipeg|
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» Images: BC at WPG
» Video: Bighill's 30-Yard Fumble Return TD
» Dante Marsh's 80-Yard Pick Six
» Parks' 45-yard Scoop n' Score
» Denmark Hauls in First of Two TDs
» DeMarco Spots Wide-Open Moore for TD
» Preview: Bombers host Lions on FNF
On the first play from scrimmage, Hall threw a swing pass to his tailback who never seemed to get a handle on it and fumbled on his own 30 yard line. After players scrambled for the pigskin, Lions linebacker Adam Bighill picked up the fumble and ran it back for the early score.
Despite the less-than-ideal start, the two aforementioned Bombers would help answer back.
Ford took the ensuing kickoff back to the BC 54 yard line before Hall made three completions, including a 13-yard touchdown strike to WR Clarence Denmark to tie the game up at seven.
Not to be outdone, Thomas DeMarco and the Lions offence finally got their first time with the ball and made no mistake breaking the tie.
Starting his second ever game, DeMarco led a 7-play, 73-yard drive, spotting a wide-open Nick Moore for a 25-yard touchdown. The Bombers conceded a rouge on the ensuing kickoff and the Lions took a 15-7 lead in the first quarter.
DeMarco started but it was his backup that was making headlines heading into Friday’s matchup as Buck Pierce made his return to Winnipeg for the first time since being traded three weeks ago.
After Sandro Deangelis missed a 32-yard field goal attempt, the Lions defence started to dominate in the second quarter.
First, defensive back Cord Parks jumped in front of a Hall pass intended for Denmark and set up a 34-yard McCallum field goal.
Dante Marsh followed that up with an 80-yard interception return touchdown and then Parks bookended the onslaught with a 45-yard fumble return major and quickly, the Lions took a commanding 33-7 lead.
That last score was caused by a solid hit by Bighill on former teammate Akeem Foster who was the player going the other way in the aforementioned Pierce trade.
Looking for some sort of boost offensively, Hall completed a 35-yard pass to Denmark for his second major of the night just before halftime to cut into the lead but still down 35-14 at the break.
|Big Game for Bighill|
Adam Bighill made an early case for Defensive Player of the Week, racking up 10 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles and a touchdown.
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The Lions entered the locker room having forced four turnovers, leading to 24 BC points.
The second half began and the Lions defence was simply relentless.
The Bombers made a switch to former Hamilton Tiger-Cats pivot Jason Boltus but his first pass was picked off by linebacker Solomon Elimimian, setting the Leos up at the Winnipeg 27 yard line.
DeMarco completed a pair of passes before punching it in himself from one yard out to extend the BC lead to 40-14.
BC simply refused to take the foot off the gas.
Demarco completed his night by engineering a short drive finished off by a 17-yard Andrew Harris touchdown scamper to increase the advantage to 47-14.
DeMarco exited at the end of the third quarter, giving way to Pierce. He finished 15 of 21 for 170 yards and 1 touchdown.
Pierce entered the game to a standing ovation and the chants of “we want Pierce” from the Winnipeg faithful.
He needed to do very little for the Leos to get back on the board. With 11:23 remaining, Bighill forced another fumble by Boltus and Lin-J Shell recovered on the Winnipeg 11 yard line. It would lead to a 12-yard McCallum boot.
Another former Bomber quarterback, Joey Elliott, closed out the win for the Lions with under three minutes remaining.
Veteran receiver Terrence Edwards made his 500th career reception Friday night and he and his team look to get back on track next week in Calgary.
BC meanwhile, returns home after a two-game road trip to host the Saskatchewan Roughriders.