Lions stay perfect at BC Place with big win 0
VANCOUVER - In B.C. Lions language, it's called the dome-field advantage.
Underneath the retractable roof at BC Place, formerly fitted with an air-inflated dome, the Lions have stressed time and again that they want to make their stadium a fortress - a place where opponents despise entering and, ultimately, where the Lions themselves thrive.
So far, they're doing it.
The Lions have gone undefeated in eight straight at BC Place since its re-opening last September - including Friday's 39-36 shootout victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in front of a crowd of 25,109. It's a win-win, literally, for the team and their fans.
"We're doing what we have to do on the field," said Lions centre Angus Reid. "One, we win. Two, the atmosphere is great out there. It's a place everyone in Vancouver, including ourselves, love to come to and everyone outside of Vancouver hates coming here."
While they again defended their fortress during Week 2, it certainly didn't come easy. Despite missed offensive plays and notable holes on the defence, sprinkled with mistakes here and there, the Lions managed to persevere, and as coach Mike Benevides put it, "We found a way to get it done."
Thanks to a pair of late first half touchdowns, and timely plays on both sides of the ball, B.C. improved to 2-0 to start their 2012 campaign.
"The best thing we did tonight was battle through not playing well," said quarterback Travis Lulay, who threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns. "The offence, we weren't consistent. The defence played great and special teams set up a couple scores. But we were able to score enough to win."
Hamilton, a team that won five of their last six meeting against the Lions, struck first, and got it from a big play by rookie running back Chevon Walker. A week after scoring his first ever points in the CFL with an 89-yard rushing touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the 24-year-old didn't wait long to top it.
Just six minutes into the game, Walker took a pass from quarterback Henry Burris and found a gap from deep within Tiger-Cats territory before evading several B.C. defenders for a whopping 95-yard touchdown. However, the Lions didn't leave the stunned BC Place crowd silent for long.
On the next drive, Lulay led the offence to nine plays down the field before capping it with a six-yard pass to Shawn Gore for a touchdown, tying things up.
The back-and-forth on the scoreboard continued. Burris found fullback Daryl Stephenson for a nine-yard score early in the second quarter before the Lions responded just before halftime with a couple touchdowns of their own - all in a span of 17 seconds.
It began with Lulay and Gore connecting again, this time on a 26-yard play. On the next possession, Burris' pass was picked off by defensive back Anthony Reddick, who ran it all the way to the one-yard line. Andrew Harris punched the ball in for the rushing touchdown.
Just like that, the Lions took a nine-point lead into the half. And they never looked back.
The two sides exchanged punt returns for TDs in the second half - the first time since 2008 that two CFL teams have returned kicks for major scores in the same game. Tim Browns got it for B.C., a 81-yard return, while Chris Williams scored for Hamilton, a 67-yarder. Field goals by Paul McCallum put the game out of reach, despite a couple late endzone scores by the Tiger-Cats.
Burris finished with strong numbers - 359 passing yards, and four touchdowns - but Hamilton still fell to 0-2 to start the season. Lions' Brown had 296 total return yards while Harris rushed for 147 yards.
"The reality is we made enough plays that we had to," Reid said. "To be great, you can't play with those swings up and down. We're not perfect yet by any search of the imagination but we're 2-0. Which is a lot better than 0-2."
Note: Ryan Phillips was helped off the field in the fourth quarter with what coach Benevides called an ankle injury. Phillips will get an X-ray but the team remains "hopeful." Gore also left the game with a hamstring injury but he said he's ready to go for next week.