Canadian Football League

Sunday, August 28, 2005

B.C. perfect through first half of Canadian Football League season

The B.C. Lions scored a pair of touchdowns in the final four minutes to keep their unblemished record intact. Third-string Lions quarterback Buck Pierce engineered two touchdown drives to bring the Lions back from a 15-5 deficit and beat the Roughriders 19-15 in CFL play Saturday night.
Saskatchewan Roughriders' Davin Bush and T.J. Stancil tackle BC Lions' Paris Jackson during first quarter CFL action on Saturday. B.C. extended its winning streaks to nine games from the start of this season and 12 extending back to the 2004 campaign. Both are club records, with the 12-game run tied for the third-longest in CFL history.
The Lions remain comfortably in first place in the West Division, while the Roughriders (3-6) have lost five in a row and are tied with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for fourth place.
Pierce was inserted in the third quarter after Lions starter Casey Printers apparently aggravated a sore shoulder. Printers was starting in place of first-stringer Dave Dickenson, whose own shoulder injury forced him to watch the game from the sidelines in civilian clothes.
"A sore shoulder is hard to overcome," Pierce said of Printers' situation. "And the coaches had that confidence in me to say, 'If Casey's shoulder starts to go bad, Buck, you get ready to go in."
Pierce said he made a few mistakes early, but ended up 9-for-12 with 191 yards.
"I'm not really surprised by my performance because I expect a lot out of myself," said Pierce. "But I'll probably be kicking myself tomorrow for some passes I missed and some of the calls I screwed up on."
Pierce began the Lions' rally midway through the fourth quarter with a seven-play, 66-yard drive. A third-down gamble near midfield failed, but a Roughrider offside penalty kept the Lions going and led to Pierce's six-yard touchdown run at 11:23.
Given the ball again at the Lions 18 with 1:41 to go, Pierce used only five plays to cover 92 yards. A 52-yard bomb to Geroy Simon put the ball on the Roughrider 1, from where Antonio Warren ran in for the winning score.
"We matched Saskatchewan's defensive intensity, which is all you can ask for," Buono said. "We came alive in the last four minutes and it paid off for us."
Slotback Jason Clermont caught seven passes for 107 yards to lead B.C.'s receivers while Simon had four receptions for 103 yards.
As for the Roughriders, they were heartbroken and in shock after suffering their fifth straight loss. They were particularly upset at a couple of fourth-quarter penalties. The first one was the call on defensive end Daved Benefield that kept the Lions' first touchdown drive alive when he appeared to have been drawn offside. The other one was for an illegal procedure on centre Jeremy O'Day, who was ruled to have moved the ball before the snap on a second-one at the Lions' 51 with two minutes remaining.
"I can't believe that," said Benefield. "Some things happened out there that were just, wow, I mean, I can't say anything about it, I just can't."
Quarterback Nealon Greene executed the Roughriders' only successful drive of the game in the last five minutes of the third quarter, taking his team 105 yards in eight plays.
Kenton Keith had a 41-yard run and Greene connected with Elijah Thurmon on a 32-yard pass before Greene himself ran nine yards for the major.
Neither team managed a touchdown in the first half. Saskatchewan Paul McCallum was bedeviled by early misadventures. Holder Rocky Butler fumbled the snap on a 26-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first quarter and McCallum's 44-yard attempt early in the second hit the right upright.
McCallum finally connected on 30-and 17-yard efforts before halftime.
Duncan O'Mahony of the Lions booted a 59-yard single in the second quarter.
Each team conceded a safety touch from punt formation deep in its own territory to round out the first-half scoring.
O'Mahony converted both Lions touchdowns while McCallum converted Saskatchewan's major.
Saskatchewan conceded another safety that narrowed its lead to 8-5 early in the third quarter.
The Roughriders remain at home for their next game Sunday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. B.C. has a week off before meeting the Renegades in Ottawa on Sept. 8.


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