For the first time in 30 games, the BC Lions (7-4-0) have suffered back-to-back defeats. The visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats rallied around former Lion running back James Butler and a couple of timely takeaways en route to a 30-13 victory before 20, 053 fans at Save-On-Foods Field at BC Place.
Now for some ‘Game Takes’ from Matt Baker.
Butler Did It
Lions players and coaches talked all week about the importance of neutralizing Butler out of the Ticats’ backfield. The former Lion served as a catalyst with 118 rushing yards on 21 carries while also scoring two touchdowns. The ability of Butler and quarterback Taylor Powell to convert on second and long and flip field position is what truly did the home side in. Head coach Rick Campbell was quick to point out how his team wasn’t clicking from the start.
“That’s what bothered me today is that I thought the energy Hamilton brought was better than ours,” he said.
“That’s not typical of our guys. I sure like this football team and I didn’t like the way we came at it today. So, I’m not sure how that was.”
What makes it more of a headscratcher is the fact Hamilton entered this contest second-last in overall rushing.
“We got pushed around. He’s a good he’s a good player, number one,” said Campbell of Butler.
“But we were getting pushed around up front. There were times we knew they were running the ball and still got pushed around. We’ve got to make sure scheme-wise we’re doing whatever we can do to put the players in the best position and then we’ve got to get more stout up front and be able to stop the run.”
Butler’s first touchdown opened the scoring early in the second quarter with his second putting them ahead 17-6 in the third and the Lions were officially behind the eight-ball.
“They played a lot of extra o-linemen too, the running backs they tend to chip as well, so that makes it always harder, ” added defensive lineman Tibo Debaillie.
“I still think we put a lot of pressure in his (Powell’s) face, Betts had a couple of hits as well and Woody is always over there. I think we did a pretty good job when it comes to that stuff.”
Two Big Turnovers Turn Tide
The Lions committed three turnovers in total but it was the first two that made a world of difference. Vernon Adams Jr. drove the offence down the field on their opening possession only to have it snuffed out by a Hamilton stop on third and less than a yard inside their own 25-yard line. Not being able to score right off the bat helped set off a first-half that saw plenty of lapses in momentum. Then with the Lions trailing 17-6 early in the fourth, a Jevon Cottoy fumble put a big dent in the comeback attempt.
Adams Jr. finished his night 26/40 for 326 yards and an interception to Richard Leonard that all but sealed the deal.
Slow start. It felt like, we were moving the ball pretty good and we just weren’t finishing, you know what I’m saying?” said the quarterback.
“We were all taking our turns not finishing. And, man, it just sucks. I hate losing. I hate it. I hate it more than I like winning. It’s just, it’s tough man, but we got we’re going to get it together man. We’re going to get back to work and get it right.”
Adams’ lone touchdown strike of the night went to Keon Hatcher in the late stages. The Lion receiver had a game-high 107 yards on 11 receptions.
With this loss, the Lions fall to two full games behind Winnipeg for the West Division lead.
154– yards from Scrimmage from Butler. He had one touchdown on the ground and one through the air.
4– Lion sacks on Powell: one each for Woody Baron, Josh Banks, Bo Lokombo and Mathieu Betts who added to his league-leading total. Betts now has 12 on the season.
78.2- completion percentage for Powell. He was 18/22 for 222 yards.
36:27- The Tiger-Cats owned time of possession in this contest.
The squad is back on the road for a tilt with the 6-4-0 Montreal Alouettes next Saturday to kick off Labour Day Weekend. Kickoff at Percival Molson Stadium is 4:00 pm PT.