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Potent offence ruled the first half. Ball hawking defence ruled the second. Add it all up and it was the perfect formula for Jonathon Jennings and the BC Lions. The starting pivot went 10 of 14 for 197 yards and three touchdowns in his nearly one half of action, as the home side cruised to a 42-10 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders to close out pre-season.
Jennings was picking and choosing his targets, completing first half touchdowns to Jeremiah Johnson, Bryan Burnham and Marco Iannuzzi. Emmanuel Arceneaux caught a 3rd quarter major from Travis Lulay.
“We still have a lot more to improve on and we left a lot out there, but you just see the playmaking abilities,” said Jennings after the win.
“We’re picking up from where we started last year and we’re excited to take the heights even higher. I expected nothing less from them (the receivers) and I am excited about them making even more plays.”
On defence, Loucheiz Purifoy returned a fumble to the house and also had an interception, while TJ Lee chipped in with a interception and fumble of his own. Purifoy also led all defenders with three tackles. The defensive line also had a stellar evening with Craig Roh recording back- to- back quarterback sacks- more on those below- while Josh Shirley and DeQuin Evans each had one as well.
“I think we wanted to come out here and set the tone for the season,” added Jennings.
“You have to have a focus every single day. If you’re not focused on what you’re trying to accomplish then you’re not going to accomplish anything.”
Ten-year veteran Jason Arakgi spent the evening on the sidelines. After the game, we found out why: the ten-year announced his retirement from football to pursue a business opportunity in medical equipment sales. While being mobbed by teammates during the “game balls” presentation, the CFL’s all-time leader in special teams tackles could not hold back his tears.
“I can’t thank this organization enough for everything they’ve given me. I can’t thank Wally enough. Honestly, he’s become like a father figure to me,” said Arakgi after the announcement.
Number 45 leaves the den with no shortage of memories.
“The guys and the locker room. The coaches, the teammates, 2011 winning the Grey Cup. I’ve met some of the best people I’ve ever met. I would never trade it for anything else,” added Aragki.
“Here’s the thing. I’ve done the same sack dance since I have been in the CFL. It’s like an imaginary sword. It’s something that entertains, and the fans like it.”- Defensive End Craig Roh on his sack celebration and being flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Props to Arakgi on a stellar career. He is, as they say, what this great league is all about: genuine, down to earth and the ultimate team guy. He was a pleasure for me to cover, both as a member of the media and an employee of the club. This franchise has been lucky to have many great ambassadors over the years, and Aragki ranks right up there with the best. There is no doubt his next chapter will be just as successful.
Fitting on his final night in orange that the special teams was indeed special. Ty Long hit a pair of field goals, the longest coming from 49 yards out, and his punting was vastly improved from last week. Swayze Waters was a perfect five of five on convert attempts, as he eases back into it following a thigh injury. The kick coverage continues to get better as well.
Speaking of that unit, didn’t we tell you Micah Awe was pretty impressive? He had four special teams tackles and proved once again to be a force on the defensive side of things.
That offence. Enough said. Yes, it was pre-season. Yes, the opposition had back ups in as the night went on. It shouldn’t take away from the fact we can expect some exciting nights of entertainment all season long.
Iannuzzi was one of the more consistent offensive leaders in Kamloops, and he looks poised to build off his productive 2016 campaign. At age 30, he is showing no signs of slowing down. With Arakgi’s departure he also takes another step up the club’s seniority level as well.
Decisions, decisions. It will go down as a good problem to have, but Buono and the staff still have a couple of things to discuss when it comes to trimming the roster down to 46 on Saturday. Stay tuned to bclions.com for all of the updates.
Your Lions then get set for the season opener Saturday, June 24th against the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place. They return to full practice on Tuesday.
Matt Baker: firstname.lastname@example.org