Lions lose heartbreaker to Blue Bombers

Dec 19 2017, 5:55 pm

The B.C. Lions lost a heartbreaker on Saturday night, blowing a big halftime lead and losing 29-26 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in front of a dismal but predictable crowd of 19,826 at BC Place.

The first half of this game was all B.C., thanks to budding rookie quarterback Jonathon Jennings. Jennings had an astronomical first half, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns (two to Emmanuel Arceneaux, one to Austin Collie), and he helped the Lions take a 23-9 lead into halftime.

Afterwards, however, the Bombers came out firing on defence, holding the former Saginaw State Valley star to less than 100 passing yards in the second half. He finished the day with 372 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, which is usually a fine stat line, but certainly isn’t what you would have predicted given his first-half numbers.

Bombers’ quarterback Matt Nichols performed abominably on Saturday, completing just 19 of 34 passes and throwing for just 179 yards and one touchdown. The ground game wasn’t effective either, with second-year running back Cameron Marshall garnering just 29 yards on 10 carries.

Still, Winnipeg outscored B.C. 20-3 in the second half, and a large part of that was by virtue of their special teams. The once highly-criticized unit blocked a convert, blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown, and pulled off a crucial fake punt on 3rd and 11 that kept a drive alive late in the game, which ultimately led to the game-tying touchdown.

The Lions were unable to capitalize with under two minutes left in regulation time, allowing Winnipeg’s struggling offense to make amends and march up the field, just in time to allow kicker Sergio Castillo to boot a 41-yard walk-off field goal with no time remaining for the 29-26 comeback victory. Castillo was brought in this week to handle the field goal chores after Lirim Hajrullahu missed 4-of-5 attempts last week in a 24-23 loss to Edmonton.

The Lions currently sit at 5-9, and the Bombers now hold the season-series tiebreaker against them. Montreal (5-8) is also still in contention to cross over to the West. The Bombers’ comeback means this is still a three-way race, and one that could go down to the very end.