July 21, 2022

Bakes’ Game Takes | BC 17 HAM 12

VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 21: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats play the BC Lions in their CFL game at BC Place July 21, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/BC Lions)

It may not have been as slick or as entertaining as their first three triumphs. Bottom line: The BC Lions are 4-1 after a gritty 17- 12 over the Hamilton Tiger- Cats (1-5-0) Thursday evening at BC Place. It came with clutch defence and a starting quarterback who admitted he likely got away with one. Now for some game takes from Matt Baker following the win over Hamilton.

Bend But Don’t Break Defence 

They forced no less than four turnovers in the fourth quarter alone; including three in succession in the final minutes of while clinging to the five-point advantage. The first instance of the late-game craziness was a big Marcus Sayles end zone pass break-up followed by a big knockdown by Loucheiz Purifoy and it all ended with Garry Peters’ interception on Hamilton’s last-ditch effort with no time remaining.

They did just fine as a unit despite missing one of their best leaders in Bo Lokombo. Replacement Ben Hladik had six defensive tackles including a major play to stuff Ticats backup Matthew Shiltz on a third and one early in that final quarter. Depth has once again paid off for Rick Campbell’s team.

“Big moments is when we stepped up, especially in the red zone,” explained the victorious head coach.

“Those were the key things in the game of forcing some field goals and getting them to turn the ball over on downs. That was what I was most proud of, is they stepped up. I know the defence will tell you that there were times that they wanted to get off the field and make more plays, which is definitely true but the other thing that is true is they made the plays that were the difference in the game, so good for them.”

Added Sayles on the clutch performance:

“Honestly, it’s just a credit to the whole coaching staff and honestly, what they’re trying to do for us. That was a big situation for both teams and they needed a touchdown or a first down. For it to be third down, we really just had to buckle up, put hands on them and disrupt the quarterback’s timing. That’s what we were able to do. They were running the same concept a couple of times so it was kind of easier for us to understand what they were going to do. Everybody just doing their job and doing their responsibility. That was it.”

Ryan Phillips has no doubt not stopped smiling.

Recovering From Early Miscues, Rourke Not Satisfied 

The offence came out firing as Nathan Rourke connected with Lucky Whitehead for a 43-yard connection on the first play from scrimmage to set them up in Hamilton territory. Three plays later, the drive stalled when Rourke was stopped short on a third down gamble. The next series also ended abruptly when Whitehead

They would keep pounding and pull through eventually when Rourke hit Jevon Cottoy for the game’s first touchdown early in the second quarter and the home side took a 10-6 lead to the locker room at the half. Good teams find a way to get it done despite the script not going to their liking in the early going.

Rourke then found Whitehead for a big touchdown that came after yet another turnover on downs to put them up 17-6 in the third quarter. Despite finishing 22/30 for 250 yards and a pair of majors, he was his own worst critic after this one; especially after an interception to Tundae Adeleke gave the Tiger-Cats another shot in that crazy fourth quarter.

“We’re just not executing and it starts with me,” said Rourke.

“I think the defence won of us the game. I don’t think I played well enough to win this game; not in a professional football game against that team that’s been in the Grey Cup the last two seasons. I don’t think I played well enough. I can’t make those type of mistakes, I can’t miss those type of throws. I thought our crowd was excellent. Those penalties at the end, the delay of game and the offside, that’s because of noise. That was amazing to have BC Place with that many people. But our defence won us the game.”

The kid is smart and blunt. You have to admire that about him.

Whitehead was the top receiver with eight catches on nine targets for 111 yards and the major. Hey, we said in our preview he was due to break out.

Key Numbers

337– the Lions total offence, modest compared to their other three wins. It could go down as comforting they can win a defensive battle as well.

5- the Lions defence forced all of their turnovers in the second half of this game.

28:40- the home team gets it done despite losing the time of possession.

2- turnovers in as many drives to start for the Lions’ offence: they managed to get the job done in spite of that and you love to see it.

Next Up

The Lions visit Saskatchewan on Friday, July 29 at 6:00 pm in what marks the first of five consecutive games against West Division rivals. The 4-2-0 Roughriders play host to Toronto on Sunday evening.

Matt Baker: