June 25, 2016

Roar Report: Lions Top Stamps In Opener After Rain Man Return

It was a tale of two halves as the Lions came back to stun the Stampeders 20-18 in their regular season opener at BC Place. They were in need of a wake up call and it came in the fourth quarter when Chris Rainey returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown to give the home side it’s first lead of the night- one they wouldn’t relinquish- in a 20-18 win over the Calgary Stampeders to kick off the 2016 regular season. It was icing on the cake for the Lions stud return man after he also ran one in from one yard out to cut the Stampeders lead to five points late in the third. He would end his night with eight touches for 157 yards and the two majors. He credited his special teams blockers for the big return. “The path up the field was so open,” Rainey said. “They opened up the gate for me all the way to the end zone. We needed that and I wanted to thank the defence for helping us out this whole game.”

A couple of defensive turning points stood out. In the first half, Mic’hael Brooks had a big fumble recovery deep in Lions territory and also sacked Stampeders QB Bo Levi Mitchell to force a turnover on downs on the Lions two-yard line. As a result, they headed to the locker room down down just 10-3. Rainey’s special teams heroics were extra special after the Lions unit allowed three blocked punts in the first half. “That was an ugly game, but we pulled it out with a win,” Rainey added.


“If you miss him once, he’s going to burn you,” Wally Buono said. Although the CFL all-time winningest coach was concerned with his special teams unit overall, he insists he will not lose sleep over it until they return to practice on Monday. “It’s troubling. But tonight you dwell on the positives. It’s always easier to fix issues after you win. We’ll fix it and if not we’ll get players who do it the way we ask.”

Another big moment came after the Rainey return when Adam Bighills big sack on Mitchell was followed by a Rene Parades Field Goal miss from 31 yards out. The Lions were able to keep the ball for the final 3:43 and not allow Calgary a chance to take the lead. The drive was highlighted by yet another key play by Rainey; a leaping five yard catch on second down to move the chains with 2:47 left.

On offence, Jonathon Jennings also rebounded from a shaky start and ended his night with 248 yards passing on 24 completions. Shawn Gore was his leading target on the night, hauling in seven catches for 67 yards.

Up next: The Lions hit the road for a Canada Day contest in Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats are also 1-0 after prevailing 42-20 in Toronto in the CFL season opener on Thursday. It will be a 4:00 kickoff from Tim Horton’s Field.

Matt Baker: