White, Durant spark Leos in gritty road win
TORONTO — It was a bizarre start, followed by an even stranger finish but lost in the theatrics of the final few minutes of a win by virtue of a missed field goal was the performance by two BC Lions that carried an offence hit by the injury bug.
The Lions squeaked out their first win of the season Saturday night after surrendering the lead in the final minute and then earning the ‘W’ off a missed Sergio Castillo field goal which fell for a single point and the 18-17 edge.
In what was a slow-progressing game, John White IV tallied 138 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries while Lemar Durant built on his hot start to 2019 with 9 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown in the Leos win.
Both, somewhat forgotten pieces in the BC Lions free agency frenzy, both having solid starts to the 2019 campaign. For Durant, he notched his fourth major of the young season when pulled away from DB Abdul Kanneh, who bit on a pump fake, and hauled in the corner-route uncontested.
“We needed this one,” a relieved White said after the contest. “Same situation every week — it’s about finishing. We are always on top in every single game we have been in and I think this is going to be the start.”
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White has spent the last couple of seasons battling injuries so after spending most of last season on the sideline in Hamilton his signing in BC fell under the radar compared to some of the transactions with the names of Reilly, Carter and Grymes in it.
White’s 22 carries Saturday evening allowed the Lions to not only manage the clock but avoid turnovers in what quickly became a wet outing at BMO Field.
In the lead-up to the gritty road win, there were as many changes in weather as their were points by each team in the first half as they clubs entered the locker room with only a field goal apiece.
“Just get to the win,” White said when asked if he was concerned about the way in which the Leos pulled out the victory. “Dirty, clean, it doesn’t matter. We are just trying to be the nastiest, hardest-hitting team out there. Doesn’t matter how we are going to get it … we have to get the ‘W’. We finished it — not in the greatest way but we finished it. The football gods spoke!”
His head coach also does not seem concerned with how BC got to the finish line.
“It looked like a repeat of last week. For us to not hold on to that and not play tight (it was important to) execute,” DeVone Claybrooks told reporters. “Ironically, the ball was on the 45 and we had no time outs exactly like last week. We practice situational football and that’s not new so there is no panic.”
Armed with their first win, the Lions can now make up a bit of ground lost early in this campaign as they try to gel. Next Thursday they return home to host the Edmonton Eskimos and then have a home-and-home with the Saskatchewan Roughriders dialed up before heading to a bye week.