MONTREAL — The B.C. Lions managed to keep the CFL's top-scoring offence out of the end zone to win their third straight contest.
The Lions limited the Montreal Alouettes to six field goals and no touchdowns in a 27-18 road win Saturday.
"That's what we aspire to do," said defensive back T.J. Lee. "To come out and execute and have that bend-don't-break mentality and capitalize on their mistakes is pretty much what we did."
Mike Reilly went 21 for 25 passing for 308 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions (4-2). Lucky Whitehead caught all six passes thrown his way for 133 yards and a touchdown.
The Lions jumped to a first-quarter lead and never trailed.
Alouettes (2-3) kicker David Cote was the only source of offence for the home side in front of 13,591 fans at Percival Molson Stadium. Cote scored all 18 points for Montreal.
The game was played in the final 20 yards before the end zone, according to assistant coach Andre Bolduc, who was calling the plays for Montreal with head coach Khari Jones in COVID-19 isolation.
The Alouettes were just not able to get the upper hand on a Lions defence that blocked a franchise-record 13 passes to deny the hosts a first win at home this season.
“There was certainly a lack of opportunism,” Bolduc said. “When you get to the red zone and all you could do is field goals all night, you put yourself in a position where you’re going to run out of time at some point.
“I would’ve liked to see the receivers make big catches. Credit to B.C., they’ve done that all night."
Als quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. went 16 of 36 for 270 yards and two interceptions. William Stanback had a big game for Montreal, running for 139 yards on 18 carries. Receiver Eugene Lewis led his side with 85 yards.
The Lions got on the scoresheet first on their first drive of the night. Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke tapped in for Reilly on third down with one yard to go in the red zone and zoomed to his left for a 17-yard run. Running back James Butler confirmed the touchdown with a short two-yard run giving B.C. a 7-0 lead.
Adams tried to respond with a touchdown pass but was intercepted inside the end zone by Lee. After seven weeks of the CFL season, the Lions are the only team to record at least one interception in every game.
“We didn’t capitalize when we got in the red zone. It’s got to be better as a whole,” Adams said. “The (first half) interception in the end zone set us back, but we just gotta get down there and make plays. We all gotta make plays and it starts with me.”
With the Alouettes offence failing to convert in the red zone, Cote was kept busy in the second quarter. The Alouettes kicker completed three field goals, including a 49-yard attempt in the final moments of the quarter, to keep his team within five points at halftime.
At the start of the second half, the Alouettes reached the red zone for the third time of the game. Adams tried connecting with Dante Absher but his pass was knocked down by Jalon Edwards-Cooper. Cote stepped up and completed his fifth field goal of the night to cut the deficit to two points.
The Lions took control of the contest when Reilly threw his second touchdown pass of the game. With 9:03 to go in the fourth quarter, Reilly found Keon Hatcher for a 17-yard pass to bring the score to 24-15.
"I thought we made the plays we needed to make when we needed to," said Lions head coach Rick Campbell. "There were a couple of times we went backwards on penalties, which hurts us, but we made big plays and we stepped up.
"Playing on the road like this, in the fourth quarter when you need plays to be made, our offence did it so good for them."
Cote converted his sixth field goal of the night with 4:31 to go in the game to bring the Als within one major score. But Lions kicker Jimmy Camacho added a late field goal of his own, his second of the night, to seal the win.
Cote joined Terry Baker, Damon Duval and Colt David as the fourth Alouettes player to score at least six field goals in a single game.
“When my name is called, I need to make the points and the field goals, so I made it," Cote said. "But it doesn’t taste as good if we don’t get the win at the end of the day. Personally it’s a good day but I would’ve taken a couple less field goals for a win, of course.”
The Lions host the Saskatchewan Roughriders next. The Alouettes embark on a two-game road trip, beginning with a Friday night clash against the Toronto Argonauts.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.
The Canadian Press