Sometimes you give someone a second chance in life, and they make the most of it. How ironic then that the BC Lions made the most of their second chance against the team that gave it to them just a week ago.
Casey Printers returned to Hamilton for the first time since being released by the Ticats this past off -season and guided the Lions to a 34-27 overtime victory, ensuring the Lions will play for the right to play the Montreal Alouettes next week with a birth in the Grey Cup game on the line.
Printers led the Lions going 24 for 35 for 360 yards and 1 TD, while rushing for another himself. His pocket presence was outstanding on the day and he avoided any major mistakes. Geroy Simon (5 catches, 111 yards) and Emmanuel Arceneaux (6 catches for 120) were Printers’ main targets but the Leos also mixed in dashes of Martell Mallet and the fresh legs of Ian Smart to produce a very solid offensive game plan.
On defense, the Lions silenced their critics who said they couldn’t stop the run, as they held the Ticats to just 36 yards rushing all game, and just 34 to DeAndra’ Cobb who torched them for 267 yards in two games earlier this year. The Lions racked up five sacks on the day, three to Brent Johnson and the other two going to Outstanding Canadian finalist Rickey Foley.
The game was largely a defensive battle but the Lions controlled possession, especially in the first quarter where they had the ball for 10:57 second of the half. Unable to convert in the red zone, the Lions settled for field goals before Printers rushed for his touchdown in the 2nd quarter, giving the Lions a 16-6 lead at the half.
Hamilton had their own problems in the redzone adding a field goal to cut the lead to 16-9, but with 5:55 left in the third they hit pay dirt on a spectacular catch by Dave Stala that tied the game on the extra point, and the Ticats looked to be swinging momentum in their favour, but the Lions would respond on the next drive, with key receptions by Ryan Grice-Mullen and O’Niel Wilson and a pass interference call in the endzone that set up a 1 yard Rolly Lumbala touchdown to restore a seven point advantage for the Lions.
After the Ticats punted on their next possession, they had the Lions backed up 2nd and 15 on their own 8 yard line, Printers hit Emmanuel Arceneaux for a 49 pass to keep the drive alive and give the Lions excellent field position. They added a couple more big Acreneaux receptions to keep the drive going to begin the 4th quarter but the drive ended with a Paul McCallum fielg goal to give the Lions the ten point lead, and things started to look good. McCallum added a single before the Ticats drove and cut the lead to 8 points after a Nick Setta field goal.
The Lions got the ball back with 2:09 left but couldn’t sustain a drive, and had to punt giving the Ticats the chance to drive for the tying score with 1:32 left. And drive they would, with big completions to Arland Bruce, Chris Bauman, Marquay McDaniel before finally capping the drive with a touchdown pass to Stala and a 2 point convert to McDaniel to tie the game at 27-27.
The Lions had 22 seconds to work with and appeared to have worked themselves into position to win the game on a field goal after a completion to Geroy Simon inside the Hamilton 20, but the Lions were flagged for procedure on the play, the seventh such penalty of the game against the Lions and the game ended up in overtime, much to the chagrin of Lions fans.
The Lions lost the coin toss and the Ticats elected to start the extra session on defense. The Lions had been throwing all game and on the first play fropm the Ticat 35 yard line in overtime, they caught the Ticats off guard handing off to Martell Mallet who ripped off a 27 yard run to set the Lions up first and goal. On the next play Printers found Ian Smart who dove for the endzone and broke the plane, giving the Lions a 34-27 lead and forcing the Ticats to try and match their touchdown.
Glenn and company couldn’t get the job done, first on a hand-off to Cobb that went nowhere and then Brent Johnson then sacked Glenn, setting up a 3rd and 19 that fell harmlessly incomplete and the Lions had punched their ticket to Montreal next week.