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Calgary, AB – For three quarters it definitely had the feel of a pre-season tune up. Rookie quarterback Alex Ross then engineered a couple of late touchdown drives to make it interesting, but the BC Lions fell 23-18 to the reigning West Division champions Calgary Stampeders on Tuesday night. Ross finished his night 9 for 16 with a touchdown pass to RJ Harris, and certainly made a case for the number three job behind Jonathon Jennings and Travis Lulay.
Perhaps the most impressive thing with Ross was the fact he felt he should have done more.
“There are a lot of things I could have done better tonight and I am going to have to look at the film. I am going to have to review that with the guys,” said Ross after the game.
“I did some things well, but of course at the end we got to get that first down and go win the game.”
They were in a position to win it before Montario Hunter’s 3rd down catch left him just inches of the sticks at Calgary’s 30-yard line. The home side then ran out the clock.
Wally Buono’s assessment of the result was they still have lots to work to do in Kamloops.
“I don’t think we were as physical as I’d like to see them be, I didn’t think we were as efficient as we could have been. We made it exciting, but there is a lot of work to be done, ” said Buono.
“I was happy for Ross that in the second part of his game he got better, he made some plays. (If) the receiver runs the route another foot deeper, we’re first and ten with 20 seconds left and who knows what’s going to happen? Football is a funny game. We gave up some big plays and at the end we made some big plays. I don’t think we’re at the level that we want to be.”
Jonathon Jennings and Travis Lulay each had some light work, attempting only eight and five passes respectively.
The 4th quarter comeback attempt started when running back Josh Harris rumbled in from 38 yards out.
After a scoreless first quarter, Calgary jumped out to a 15-3 halftime lead. The real dagger came when Keith Price fumbled the ball in his own end zone and it was scooped up by Derek Wiggan.
The Lions’ defensive line performed very well with four sacks – two of those going to free agent addition and former Stampeder DeQuin Evans.
“That’s what you like to see. The game is never over and you leave for these shining moments. It sucks that it ended up the way it was, but we have practice and another game next week to figure it out. We have to run with this momentum. It felt good being able to get out there with the boys.”- Shaq Johnson on the 4th quarter push and contributing after he missed most of the first week of camp.
It wasn’t pretty and it certainly won’t be on display at the Louvre anytime soon, but when it comes to making key decisions in the next few days, Buono and the staff will take several things out of it. The secondary struggled and didn’t get off to a good start in its’ quest to create more turnovers in 2017. With the amount of newcomers back there it will take more time to evaluate. The head coach was blunt in his assessment that they need to be more physical from here on in.
Hat tip to Shaq Johnson after he missed most of the first week of training camp due to a tweaked hamstring. At one point he made four consecutive catches to help them close out the first half with a 46-yard field goal by rookie kicker Ty Long.
The defensive line came as advertised. You can already see the improvement for returnees Andrew Hudson and Maxx Forde. New additions DeQuin Evans, Josh Shirley and Kenneth Boatright had no difficulty getting penetration either. You get the sense the possibilities are endless with this unit, no matter who is still standing when camp breaks.
Other standouts from this writer’s point of view were Maurice Morgan, Micah Awe and Anthony Thompson.
Although Price would have liked a couple plays back, the incumbent Leos’ pivot completed 75 percent of his passes, 9 for 12 to be precise. Look for him to try to stretch the field more against Saskatchewan next week as his longest completion of the night went for just 11 yards.
Get your tickets HERE or by calling 1-855-GO-LIONS. The action in the den kicks off on Sunday, June 24th at 7:00 PM against the Edmonton Eskimos.
Matt Baker: email@example.com