There was a cat fight Friday at BC Place and when the fur stopped flying, the BC Lions had ground out a hard-fought win 36-29 win over the Tiger-Cats of Hamilton. Here’s how I saw the game, From the Stands.
Friday night could have very well been Kevin Glenn’s last start for the Lions for the foreseeable future with Travis Lulay very close to returning. But Glenn made a statement in this game, throwing for over 400 yards and also using his legs more than we’ve seen him do thus far in a Lions uniform. Yes there were two more interceptions (both tipped passes) but Glenn turned in a gutsy performance and the veteran QB looks to be settling in as a Lion. Should he be needed down the stretch, the Lions look to be in good hands behind centre.
With just nine catches coming into the game, Shawn Gore had his best game of the season to date, with 5 catches for 117 yards, including a huge 43 yard catch in the fourth quarter that gave the Lions a little breathing room after a Paul McCallum field goal extended the lead to a touchdown.
Manny Arceneaux also had a 100 yard game that included his fourth touchdown of the season, and the Lions were able to spread the ball around, even getting Rolly Lumbala involved in the offence at key moments in the game.
The biggest problem the defence had on the night was giving up the big play. But as they old cliché goes the Lions bent but didn’t break, once again allowing just one touchdown as a unit. Newcomers Alex Bazzie and Ronnie Yell continue to impress. The latter replaced Dante Marsh at corner back after the hamstring that had bothered Marsh at practice earlier in the week sent him to the sidelines for the night. Yell seems to be all over the field and is becoming a key piece of a good Lions defence.
The rushing of Dan LeFevour and the receiving of Sam Giguere gave the Lions the most trouble, but in the end they played well enough to prevent touchdowns, something they’ve done all season long for the most part.
Brandon Banks had a strong game returning the football for the Ticats, including a punt return for a touchdown. He averaged over 20 yards on both kick-offs and punt returns but the Lions also benefited from the strong leg of Ricky Schmitt and the veteran field goal kicking of Paul McCallum whose reduced role this season may have contributed to a 47 yard field goal on the way to going five-for-five on the night. While chasing Banks on his TD return, Schmitt seemed to tweak something in the shoulder he injured in his scooter accident a few weeks ago, but managed to finish the game and should be ok.
Cause for Concern
The Lions trainers were a busy unit Friday, with injuries to four starters a cause for concern. The most concern revolves around the ankle of Andrew Harris, who picked up the injury on his first touch from scrimmage. Harris gutted it out long enough to give the Lions one more touchdown in the third quarter, before shutting it down for the night. With nine days between games the Lions will hope the player responsible for about a third of their offence this year will be ready to go against the Argos.
Another concern is the injury to new offensive guard Jermarcus Hardrick who had been settling on the left side and playing well. It sounds like he may be out long-term, so second year guard Kirby Fabien will regain the starting role next week. If Harris can’t go next week, the Lions would likely activate Tim Brown which they could do by starting Fabien.
Josh Johnson and the previously mentioned Dante Marsh were the other casualties on the night.
As the Lions continue to fight great summer weather when to comes to putting bums in the seats this season, Friday’s crowd of 24,236, the smallest of the season, was probably the loudest so far. The fans got a lot of encouragement from the Lions sideline as well, especially when Khalif Mitchell wasn’t in the game. The passionate and colourful Mitchell ran up and down the sideline all night getting fans out of their seats to make some noise for the Lions defence.
But give some credit to the Lions as well, who have been trying to educate fans right from the start of the league to bring the Roar Factor and get loud on defence. It’s starting to hit home in the stands and that can only serve the club well down the road this season when crowds traditionally get larger and louder in the fall.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the game. Post a comment, or hit me up on Twitter @BCLionsDen. Make sure to check out BCLionsDen.ca for all of our Lions coverage and Pawdcasts as well.