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September 24, 2018

Roar Report | Lions Stun Tiger-Cats In OT Thriller

It was a crazy night of football; even by Canadian standards. And it could go down as a major turning point when all is said and done. Jonathon Jennings found Bryan Burnham in the end zone with no time remaining, hit him again for the game-tying two-point convert and Ty Long’s 39-yard field goal sealed the Hollywood-like comeback as your BC Lions (6-6-0) stunned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 35-32 on Saturday night.

Never one to get too high after a win or too down after a defeat, Jennings could still hardly contain his excitement in a rather boisterous home locker room.

“Man, I don’t even know,” said Jennings when asked how to describe it.

“I’m just glad we got the win, honestly. It was crazy. When we were in the moment it doesn’t seem as crazy, but when you look back and see all the things we had to jump through at the end of the game to find a way to win, it’s nuts. Kudos to the guys on the offensive side, kudos to the guys on defence stopping them when we needed to and Ty finishing it off with a great gig.”

They looked to be in control when Burnham’s first touchdown catch of the crazy sequence to end regulation put them ahead 21-20 with 2:46 to play. Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli then got his team up from off the mat and found Mike Jones for a 55-yard touchdown and then a successful two-point attempt of their own made it a 28-21 lead.

Then it got really interesting. After Jennings and company turned it over on downs, Ticats’ head coach June Jones passed on what would have been a 45-yard field goal try, electing to punt for a single to put them ahead by eight with just 59 seconds remaining.

That decision left the Lions with a pulse. And Jennings, who had experienced a long gap between miraculous comeback wins, went back to work and finished the job. What it is most enjoyable win yet?

“It’s up there. It wasn’t a playoff game, but it was huge for us to get to 6-6 in a really pivotal point in the season and we really needed this win,” added the quarterback.

And the fact he was able to re-establish a chemistry with his favourite target didn’t hurt either.

“That’s just guys not giving up, man,” said an emotionally exhausted Burnham after the win.

“You saw the fans piling out of the stadium. People thought it was over. Jonathon Jennings did it. Shaq Johnson did it. I mean he went up and made a big play to get us down there, get us in scoring position and we just never gave up. We never quit. That’s what’s special about this team.”

Johnson’s catch on a 3rd and 7 with two seconds on the clock was indeed a lifesaver, setting them up on the 20-yard line and maybe causing a few of those fans to return to their seats.

“We tried it earlier in that drive, it didn’t work, but I have faith in Shaq,” said Jennings.

“We know what he can do, he’s explosive, he’s a playmaker himself and went up and made a great catch.”

Jennings finished with 346 passing yards and three TD strikes in his first start since July 7th. The victory moves them within two points of third place Edmonton and four points of second place Saskatchewan in the Wild Western Division.

“I keep telling the guys we’re just focusing on ourselves,” explained Jennings.

“We’ve got to continue to focus on winning each and every week, we can’t worry about anybody else. As long we do what we do we’ll be in good shape.”

These two teams will meet once again in Hamilton next Saturday at 1:00 PM PT.

Key Numbers

435- the total offence for Jennings and the Lions in this high-flying affair.

8- total defensive tackles for Davon Coleman to lead all Lions. Three of those were quarterback sacks.

90– Burnham’s receiving yard total.

32- the number of Lions points that came in the second half and overtime.

76- Masoli’s completion percentage (19/25).

154- the total penalty yards for the Lions in this one. It almost came back to haunt them.

Quotable

“Perfect complementary football. We believe in those guys on the other side of the ball. When they get it going like that it just makes it easier for us to do what we’re doing and get them the ball back and they can score. That’s what happened out there tonight.”- defensive back Anthony Orange on the offence returning the favour for them in this one.

Bake’s Takes

You can’t help but feel good for Jennings. Always as cool as a cucumber, you couldn’t blame him if he felt a little peeved after losing his starting job. What true professional wouldn’t? The fact his teammates still believe in him his a tribute to his character and ability as a quarterback. His play could also give them the added luxury of not having to rush Travis Lulay back into action. You get the sense both quarterbacks will play a role in what happens in the final third of the season and beyond.

Although the defence got burned for a couple of long touchdowns, they made the key stops when they needed to the most: in overtime. Particularly on Hamilton’s first OT series where they John White a yard short if a first down and forced the Ticats to even the score with a field goal. Liram Hajrullahu would then miss his attempt in their second mini-game, setting the stage for Long’s heroics. And how fitting would it have been if Chris Rainey returned that field goal miss to the house to cap off an amazing night of football?

Lost in the shuffle: the impressive nine-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to start the second half which ended with Jennings finding Cory Watson in the end zone and Ricky Collins Jr. for a two-point convert that cut Hamilton’s lead to three. The Lions trailed 14-3 at the half and really struggled to find their groove on offence until coming back after the break.

As for Jones’ decision to punt for the single: hindsight is 20/20. Any coach should trust his defence in that situation and the fact they had stopped Jennings and company on the previous drive likely went into the decision to leave it up to Jerry Glanville’s defensive unit.

Next Up

The Lions and Tiger-Cats will do it all over again at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday, September 29th.

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com