June 30, 2022

Bakes’ Game Takes | BC 34 OTT 31

Photo: David Dermer

The BC Lions responded to their first bout of adversity by staring it right in the face and hitting back. The end result is their first 2-0 start since the 2007 season. Nathan Rouke threw for 359 yards and two majors while rushing for 87 more and scoring the first touchdown of the night as the Lions held off the Ottawa REDBLACKS 34-31 on Thursday in our nation’s capital.

Now for some game takes from Matt Baker:

Roller Coaster 2nd Half

Rourke and company took a 14-6 lead into the break before things got a little crazy in the third quarter. The quarterback’s first two interceptions of the young season, both to Monsahdrik Hunter, led to 15 Ottawa points and the first deficit of the season. Rourke responded by hitting Keon Hatcher for a 71-yard score to restore the lead. They never looked back. The Lions’ pivot later lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that led to three more Ottawa points but the defence was able to withstand a late charge by Jeremiah Masoli and company and hung on for the three-point win.

They were going to have to earn a victory at some point. This was a classic, grind it out road win that should continue to put the rest of the league on notice.

“I’m a human. I make mistakes but I’ve got a phenomenal team around me, ” said Rourke of the topsy-turvy second half.

“I’ve been telling you guys for the last three weeks that it’s not just me and you didn’t believe me. I think we showed tonight that this is a really good team and I just happen to play on it.”

“It’s a huge win for us to fly across the country. Ottawa is a good team,” added head coach Rick Campbell.

“So to beat these guys on the road, I’m really proud of these guys. Mistakes happened in the game but part of being a good football team is making each other right. We found enough ways to make enough plays to win the game so this is one we’re gonna look back and be glad we got this one in the W column.”

Rourke was once again an X-factor as the team’s leading rusher. his 50-yard scamper to open the scoring came after rookie receiver Josh Pearson caught a jump ball that had been deflected to set them up with the third and short. Yeah, sometimes you have to have a little luck on your side. The QB hit James Butler for a second quarter touchdown while the running back scored another on the ground to put them ahead by eight in the final quarter. Did we mention how great it is to have a solid running game once again?

Rourke On Said Adversity

This kid continues to demonstrate just how calm, cool and collected he is in tense situations. From being thrust into action on hostile Saskatchewan to begin last season to the two turnovers that could have been backbreakers, you have to hand it to the quarterback for his desire to just get the job done no matter what.

“It was really the encouragement and the support of the team, having a short memory and all the stuff. The guys on our side, you’ve got to give them credit. They made some plays,” explained the quarterback.

“On one of them, I get hit and the ball goes up in the air and right to an Ottawa player. Another play they bring all the pressure, I go to throw and the guy reads it really well. That’s why the guy is who he is. I told him after the game he’s a great player and I wasn’t kidding. It is what it is and I’ve just got to be better on the fumble. That’s me and that’s a mistake that I can’t make. You just kind of move on, realize your defence is playing outstanding and we still have a chance. I got to make the corrections so that doesn’t happen in the future.”

It’s not often you win when losing the turnover battle. They won’t apologize for it.

Key Numbers

509– a brilliant total yards output for the Lions on offence.

166– a career-high in receiving yards for Hatcher who has demonstrated his ability for the big play. His touchdown strike proved to be the key turning point.

7- a team-high defensive tackles for Bo Lokombo who passed concussion protocol before being cleared to play.

45.6- the average points per game for this high-octane squad through three games.

Next Up

The Lions will fly home and enjoy a couple of days to rest and heal up before returning to practice on Monday for a big West Division clash against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday, July 9 at BC Place. The 3-0-0 Blue Bombers visit Toronto on Monday to wrap up week four in the CFL.

Matt Baker: