CFL Pass

Better effort in 'weird' game, but close doesn't count for fed-up B.C.

MONTREAL — The B.C. Lions bounced back from an early deficit, the offensive line was solid and the defence stepped up in the second half.

And, sadly, it still wasn’t enough.

Here’s what we learned from the Lions 21-16 loss to the Montreal Alouettes in front of 17,047 CFL fans at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium on Friday:

• After falling behind 14-0 in the second quarter, the Lions dominated most of the final 33 minutes. The problem was two long second-half drives, in which they held the ball for more than 11 minutes, stalled in the red zone, settling for two chip-shot field goals by Sergio Castillo that got the Lions close, but no cigar.

After Castillo’s 26-yard field goal made the score 14-13 for the Als, Vernon Adams and company drove the ball 75 yards, finding the end zone on a four-yard Adams to Quan Bray touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.

The key play was a 19-yard completion to William Stanback in which the Alouettes’ running back broke a tackle and picked up a crucial first down.

The Als, to that point, had three consecutive two-and-outs in the second half.

Following the Bray touchdown, Mike Reilly moved the Lions into position for another Castillo field goal but on the Als next possession Adams hit former Lion DeVier Posey for a 27-yard gain that iced the game.

Reilly finished the night completing 20 of 29 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown. The Lions had a slight edge in total offence, and the much-maligned offensive line surrendered just two sacks, one in the dying seconds. The Lions also held a huge edge in time of possession — 34:26 to 25:03.

And they leave Montreal with a 1-10 record.

Lions’ receiver Bryan Burnham finished the game with eight catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. Stanback had 133 combined yards.

“It was one of those weird games,” said Reilly. “I don’t think there was anything glaring we were terrible at. We were pretty good. But we weren’t great in any area and that’s why we fell short.”

On the two second-half drives that came up short for B.C., Duron Carter was stopped short of a first down on second-and-five from the Als’ 15 and former Lion Bo Lokombo, who was playing safety for the Als, batted away a pass for Shaq Johnson in the Als’ end zone.

“We took a shot and we were close,” Reilly said of the incompletion to Johnson. “It looked like Bo had his back turned and he stuck his arm out at the right moment.

“Obviously we’re all sick of losing. But I’m glad to see the guys aren’t OK with it. There’s a lot of fight left. Guys are still working to figure it out. It’s just not happening right now. So we’ll just try something new.”

• Running back Brandon Rutley, making his first start for the Leos in over a month, picked up 71 rushing yards on 15 carries and another 31 receiving yards. He said the second-half performance was a positive, but the loss spoiled the mood.

“We’re absolutely close but, after a while, close just isn’t good enough,” he said. “We’re tired of saying that. We’re tired of saying we’re getting closer and we’re ready to win. That will be the mission, figuring out what to correct so we can win these games.”

• The Lions were in danger of being blown out in the first half when a late rally in the second quarter kept them in the game. Trailing 14-0, the Lions took over at midfield, produced one first down, then found the end zone when Reilly speared Burnham over the middle for a 40-yard touchdown pass. The Lions’ receiver bounced off Lokombo’s attempted tackle en route to the end zone.

Lions’ defensive back Garry Peters then killed a promising Als’ drive with an end-zone interception in the dying seconds.

The Als opened scoring early in the second quarter after a curious decision by head coach DeVone Claybrooks. Bede had missed a field goal that went for a single point on a play the Als were penalized for holding. Instead of taking field position, the Lions accepted the penalty and Bede pinned the visitors on their own seven with a punt.

Reilly and company couldn’t flip the field and the Als took over on their own 46.

Adams finished the ensuing drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak. The key play was a 24-yard completion to Posey on third-and-two from the Lions’ 33.

Adams added another one-yard touchdown sneak on the Als’ next possession. That major was set up by an end-zone, pass-interference call on the Lions’ Branden Dozier.

The Lions were in position to kick a field goal on their first possession when Reilly ripped off three first downs. That drive stalled when the Lions surrendered a sack, knocking them out of field goal range.

“The positive thing is we were down 14-0 and we clawed our way back in the game,” said Claybrooks. “We didn’t let it get ugly and we didn’t mail it in.

“We’re going to continue to build. It’s one brick at a time. I have faith we’ll turn this around.”

ewilles@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/willesonsports

NEXT GAME

Friday, Sept. 13

B.C. Lions vs. Ottawa Redblacks

7 p.m., B.C. Place Stadium, TV: TSN; Radio: TSN 1040 AM

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Source: montrealgazette.com