HAMILTON — It was the B.C. Lions’ game to lose with a quarter to play against the Tiger-Cats, and they did.
Leading by 15-points in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, the Lions seemed destined for their second win of the season.
But with the extra cushion on the scoreboard B.C. took the foot off the gas, and in doing so allowed Brandon Banks and the Cats to claw their way back.
Hamilton, led by Dane Evans under centre, began its mountainous comeback with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation. Trailing 34-19, a chip shot field goal from Lirim Hajrullahu opened the flood gates as the Cats fought all the way back, capping their comeback with a last-minute touchdown toss from Evans to Banks.
The 23-yard connection was the pairs’ second touchdown of the night.
— CFL (@CFL) August 11, 2019
Despite his team posting a season-high in points, DeVone Claybrooks’ Lions drop yet another game, with mistakes again proving too much for his squad to overcome.
“Sometimes we can’t get out of our own way,” said the first-year B.C. head coach. “It’s almost like they’re trying to do too much to be ‘the guy’ instead of just being a guy that wins the game.”
Though the offence was firing on all cylinders, Claybrooks knows there is still plenty of work to be done on both sides of the ball for the 1-7 Lions.
“We have to learn how to win,” Claybrooks said. “Looking at [our offence] from back here it looks like it was a very good game offensively, but when you peel back the layers of the onion we weren’t as tight as we should have been when it mattered the most.”
No stranger to CFL success, Mike Reilly showed up in a major way for B.C., bouncing back from a 66-yard passing performance in his previous game – a 45-18 beat down at the hands of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Reilly threw for 306 yards on Saturday, plus a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions.
With two Grey Cups already in his collection, the nine-year veteran has proven he knows how to win, a trait he hopes can rub off on his struggling squad.
“We played really good football offensively for three quarters and change and then we lost our place, let our guard down and didn’t take advantage,” said the 34-year-old in the locker room post-game.
“We got to believe that we’re capable of winning a game, not get so wound up and tight that mistakes are made but also stay aggressive and not think the game is in the bag and take out foot off the gas.”
Receiver Bryan Burnham and running back John White provided a much-needed spark for the CFL’s eighth-ranked offence. Burnham extended his reception streak to 72 straight games, hauling in a pair of touchdowns and 149 yards of production in the process.
— CFL (@CFL) August 10, 2019
White put on a show as well, with the league’s fifth-ranked running back continuing his impressive production on the ground, rushing for 124-yards on 15 carries and a pair of TDs.
— CFL (@CFL) August 11, 2019
The Lions will look to quickly put the loss behind them as they are back in action on Thursday night in Winnipeg for a matchup with the West division-leading Blue Bombers.